Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Permission to Quit

For the past few months I've been suffering from PHGD (also known at Post Hunger Games Disorder.) Every book I pick up fails to hold my interest. Even my old stand-by, Stephen King, hasn't done the trick.

There was a time in my life that I would force myself to slog through books no matter what. One day I came up with the rule of 50. If, by the time I reached page 50, I wasn't absolutely hooked, I gave myself permission to quit.

Some of you may know that I mentor a group of aspiring teen authors called The Literati. This month we are reading Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I picked it up at the library yesterday and could not put it down. HALLELUJAH! Finally the curse of PHGD was broken! I read 96 pages in one sitting.

Do you give yourself permission to quit, or are you a slogger-througher like I used to be? What books have you not been able to put down?

60 comments:

Julie Dao said...

I'm a slogger-througher to a certain extent. I usually set chapter goals for myself, like "If this doesn't get interesting by Chapter 6, I'm reading another book." Fortunately I haven't had any cases of PHGD lately!

Jen Chandler said...

I used to feel ashamed if I did not finish a book that I started. Now, I figure if it's not holding my interest, why slog through it, wasting time I could be using to find a book that is worth the effort? I'm currently reading "The Ladies of Grace Adieu" by Suzannah Clarke. It's wonderful! I hate having to put it down but if I didn't, I'd get nothing else done!

Jen

Sharla said...

Totally with you on Hunger Games!! It took me a while to read anything else, it just didn't measure up. Had to finally go polar opposite with a chicklitty book "Remember Me" by Sophie Kinsella, to break the block and it was sooooo good, so funny.

It has to hook me in the first couple of chapters, or it's a paperweight.

BTW, go to my blog...I gave you an award!!

WindyA said...

I used to do something similar to your 50 page rule, but now it depends why I'm reading. I've recently started participating on some book tours where I have to slog through it, no matter what, and I've actually learned a lot about myself as a writer that way.

But I have a confession ... I *gulp* haven't read any of the Hunger Games books yet... I know, I know! But it's because I've been trying to keep myself from unfinished series because, well, I've found that Post [insert series name here] Disease was too often at my house!

Kat said...

I always feel that if I am not enjoying a book, then I am wasting my downtime... Therefore, I do the same thing. I try to stick it out for a couple chapters, but if it does not improve, then I am not going to waste my time and switch to a new book. My favourite book is The Birth House by Ami Mckay. Read the whole thing in two days. :)

Sandy Williams said...

That's funny. Just this year I started giving myself permission to quit at page 50. I got tired of slogging through books just because I felt guilty, and since there's so much out there to read, I want to spend my time on things I love, not things I'm just enduring.

Sometimes, if a friend loved a book, I'll force myself to page 100. If it hasn't hooked me by then, no number of recommendations can make me finish.

Fortunately, I like most of the books I pick up.

:-)

Michael Rivers said...

I used to feel awful if I didn't finish a book, so I would slog through many. Over the last 1-2 years, I've gotten much better at stopping. It's still hard but I have to learn how to lighten up on myself.

Mary Campbell said...

I've had the exact same problem. Maybe Hunger Games has ruined us for all other books. I do allow myself to quit, but I know that some of the books I can't get into right now are really good books and I need to give them a chance. Maybe later though. I might have to check out the book your reading.

Nisa said...

I have to admit that I must have pretty low standards... lol! There aren't too many books I feel like I have to slog through. Maybe it's because I haven't read Hunger Games yet, or maybe it's because I'm lucky to read one book every couple of months... I'm gonna go with the latter.

Tere Kirkland said...

Ha! I'm in the middle of like four books last night, but what did I bring in the tub with me? The Hunger Games. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

I did recently whip through the first three Percy Jacksons with minimal effort, though, so it seems that series passes muster. ;)

Kristin Rae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L.T. Elliot said...

I'm totally suffering from PHGD. It's killing me. I used to be a slogger but I just can't do it anymore. There's so much to read out there and if it's not working for me, it's time to move on. I'll have to check out "Life as we knew it." It sounds interesting!

Kristin Rae said...

oops..not sure what happened with my last comment attempt.

PHGD... that's hilarious. I feel like I'm on pins and needles waiting for the third installment! I don't really have a page number rule necessarily, but if I'm not into it, I usually don't go past 100. More than that is just a waste of time if the book is mediocre.
The latest book I've read that I couldn't put down was Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater.
KristinCreative

Falen said...

i used to finish everything i started. But there's just not enough time in my life to read all the good books i want to read, so what's the point?
so now i'll quit if i feel like it

Christina Lee said...

I hate it when that happens. Yep permission to quit over here. Which really got me thinking about agents requesting the first 50, and then saying "no thank you..." after that :(

Karen said...

I quit and usually skim through to the end. I HATE not knowing how a book ends.

I haven't started Hunger Games yet. I want to be closer to the 3rd book release.

jenheadjen said...

You're more generous than me. I think I used to set it at page 30. 50 was just too much for some! Glad you found a new one to keep your interest!

Kristi said...

If it's a book for my book club, I'll slog through it, if only to be able to discuss why I didn't love it (which happens frequently). In ten years of book club, there's only been one book I couldn't force myself to finish -- ironically, I think it's still on the best seller list but I wasn't the only one that didn't finish it.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I'll slog through for a while, but there comes a point when I can't take it anymore - then, I give myself permission to quit. :-)

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I used to finish everything I started but not anymore. 50-100 pages is the max I'll it. I've just got too little time and too much to read and write to waste my time.

What I will do with a book I can't finish is analyze why it let me down so I can compare it to my own writing.

Elana Johnson said...

Oh, I loved that book. That's the one where I went out and bought all the flour and canned goods and stuff afterward. It really freaked me out.

I give books 100 pages to totally hook me. If they don't, I consider quitting. If I've read great things about them, I continue for a little bit. If I can identify why the book just isn't working for me, I walk away.

I'm a quitter. There, I said it. :)

Ann Elle Altman said...

I hate to consider myself as a quitter but yes, I have quit books. Also, if you love that book so much it must be good. I will check it out.

ann

Scott said...

Yes, I give myself permission to quit. Now, that doesn't meant that, at some point, I won't pick the book back up and finish reading it, just that, for now, I'm quitting.

And, I had my own hallelujah moment with Kate Morton's "The Forgotten Garden". I couldn't put the book down and suffered separation anxiety when I wasn't able to read because of, well, life. It's been too long where I immersed myself totally in a book.

S

Tina Laurel Lee said...

I don't slog. Not enough time. And Hunger Games has perhaps ruined a lot of books for me!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Ack! I suffer from PHGD too! I'm going to have to read both books again soon. Right now I'm reading The Book Thief, but I'm not too far into it.

I slog through books until it becomes absolutely painful. Once I dread sitting down to read there's not much point, right? But if it's not to that yet then I'm willing to keep it up. Sometimes I'm rewarded at the end, like with Jane Eyre.

Anna said...

Oh, I loved Life As We Knew It! I'm not surprised it's pulled you out of PHGD. That book haunted me for weeks (and inspired me to stockpile canned goods in my basement). I used to hate putting books aside, but in the past few years I've finally given myself permission to give up on a book if it hasn't grabbed me after fifty pages. It's been very freeing. Happy reading!

Krispy said...

I really wanted to start Hunger Games today, but maybe it's a good idea I picked the other book that I have that's due soon first, especially since I now know about PHGD. :P

I'm a slougher-througher until the end. I don't know; something about NOT finishing a book I've started bothers me, even if it's driving me up the wall. The exception is if I've only read a few pages of it and decided it's not worth pursuing further. If I'm already 50 pgs in, I'm too invested to stop.

Kristin Miller said...

Definitely give myself permission to quit. I read 122 books last year. It wasn't easy and after a while lots of the books started running together. I loved getting a "breath of fresh air" kind of book. But sometimes I just had to give up. There are too many books out there to waste time on ones that I don't like/aren't my style/simply aren't good.

Having said that, there are times I've slogged through the first part of a book only to be utterly delighted at the end of it. :)

Ina said...

I always finish a book, no matter how much I dislike it. I find that I learn more from less than perfect books than I do from those that are clearly amazing. I always try to assess why I didn't like the book; what could the author have done differently to get me hooked?

Simon C. Larter said...

Slogger-througher, definitely. Though often I'll have several books going at once, so it's less of a slog when I can take a break from the slow one.

Liza said...

Mostly I slog through. Lately though, if I've read one book I like, I go back and read all that I can from that particular writer, which means I do pretty well at getting my hands on things I enjoy.

Tamika: said...

Like Nisa, my standards can be pretty low at times. I will slog through for the most part, but now that writing is such a intricate part of my life I'm implementing new rules. I don't have the time to waste on bad reading.

Cheree said...

I'm one that needs to be hooked from the beginning or I just can't continue reading, but I do give it a chance with a few chapters.

Dominique said...

Life As We Knew It is a pretty good book. And it gives one lots to think about.

I'm a slogger througher. I think it dates back to my childhood when my dad told me it was a sign of weak character not to finish a book.

Then again, I only ever pick up books that grabbed me in the first five pages or less, so it's much less painful than it might be.

Wendy (aka quillfeather). said...

More often than not, I'll persevere. It maybe like wading through mud at times, but nevertheless, I figure if someone has spent the time writing the novel, I really should give it 100%.

Saying that, I have been known to, well.... hide it under the pile and pretend I've read it :)

Kimberly Job said...

I generally try to finish books, but I have a hard time turning off the internal editor, so sometimes I just HAVE to stop.

DL Hammons said...

I'm a slogger! Books, movies, music, I finish them all no matter how bad they are.

If you commit to it, then you need to finish it. The same is true for everything else in my life. Pretty simple.

Kelly H-Y said...

I slog through ... I think there has only been one that I ended up quitting about 3/4 through! I don't know how I made it that far, then didn't finish!

Kimberly Franklin said...

I'm a slogger. Sometimes slogging can be good though, because the last few books I've read were slow starting and great ending. You just never know.

Also, I want that book! : )

Jemi Fraser said...

I abandon books after 50 pages too. Life is too short and there are too many wonderful books out there to waste my time!

Jennie Englund said...

Okay, I've had HUNGER GAMES on my nightstand for a few weeks.

But I'm definitely starting it tonight!


Books as of late I've been unable to put down: GODLESS and INEXCUSABLE.

Sarah said...

There's just too many good books out there not to quit on some. If I'm not into by 50 pages, I'm done. My to-read pile is way too high for that.

Shelby said...

yes permission to quit is something I act on quite frequently.

Carolyn V. said...

YES! I'm adding that to my list! Whoop! Thanks. =)

Olivia Carter said...

Oh man... I hate it when I have to slog through books. I'm painfully pushing through a book right now that's gotten HUGELY good reviews. I'm afraid to even say what book it is. But I'm trudging. I have put books away though if I just can't do it.

Love this book! I actually listened to it on audiobook. It made me feel grossly unprepared for ANY disaster but it was a great book.

Bethany Wiggins said...

My seventh grade English teacher always said, give a book to page fifty. If it doesn't hold you interest by then, it isn't worth reading. I have stuck with that philosophy ever since. It's a shame my ninth grade English teacher didn't feel the same way. She failed me for failure to complete my work. Go figure.

Medeia Sharif said...

I have a 50 page rule, too, which applies to mediocre books. With really bad books I quit after a few pages.

I haven't put a book down in a long time, though. Lately I've put more thought into my purchases by studying reviews and inspecting the cover and first few pages to see if I really want a book.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

If I bought the book, then I read it regardless. If it's a library book, I give it a 100 pages (less if it's really bad). Obviously I'd never survive as an agent on this rule.

There're a lot of books I would have ended up giving up on if I didn't keep reading beyond the first 50-100 pages, and those books have become my favorite ones. ;)

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I had the same problem after Hunger Games! I definitely do not slog through if I book isn't working for me.
But I have to say, I've just read NEED and I'm now cured.

inkwench said...

lol - PHGD! I totally suffered from that too.

I usually slog through, especially if I bought the book or if it's very popular. In the latter case, I consider it a learning exercise - why do so many other people love this and why do I not?

Suzette Saxton said...

Thank you, everyone, thank you! We've had a mini-tragedy in our household today (death of a pet) and finding these comments has been a tremendous boost.

Suz

Tess said...

Oh, I NEED this sooo bad! I have a pile of books only 25% read that I keep tossing aside for the very same reason. SAVE ME!!

Mary Campbell said...

So sorry about the death of your pet. What kind of pet? Our dog died just before Thanksgiving and I'm still not over it.

Danyelle said...

Yes, I finally have gotten to the point where I put the book down if it hasn't grabbed me after some decent effort. Mostly it came down to time. It's limited, and I'd rather be spending it on something I enjoy--or not, in the case of housework. :p

Jen said...

I used to drag through the book in hopes to finish it and be satisfied, but I hate to waste my time on something that doesn't capture my interest so I too put the 50 page rule into play, by 50 if I'm not into it, then I give up, I reserve the right to not like every book!

Cute blog! Look forward to more posts!

B.J. Anderson said...

I've been a slogger with this last book I'm reading because I keep waiting for something to happen. I'm on page 200. Nothing has happened.

Natalie said...

I almost always finish the book. But I picked up one last week that I just couldn't get through. I was frustrated because it's an award winner and I really wanted to see what all the fuss was about, but it was too boring, the main character was too unlikable, and I just couldn't do it.

I've been loving Sarah Dessen lately though.

Stephanie L. McGee said...

I totally allow myself to give up on books.

As for ones I couldn't put down, Jasper Fforde's novels. Tamora Pierce. The Harry Potter books. (Well, book 2 was a bit of a slog at the beginning.) LOTR. Pride and Prejudice. I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones that come to me right off. Oh, David Eddings' Belgariad, Mallorean, Elenium, and Tamuli series.

Girl with One Eye said...

I suffer from the same disorder too! Nothing even sounds worth picking up. I have a list of book recommendations from fellow bloggers and I plan to go to the book store this weekend to really review the books. I will add this to my list to check out.

Diana Paz said...

I give myself permission to quit, for sure! Usually around the fifty-page mark too :)

Also suffering from PHGD. *Sigh*