When to stop reading a book

Kelly Jane Torrance has a very good article on this question.  This part is quoting yours truly:

"People have this innate view – it comes from friendship and marriage –
that commitment is good. Which I agree with," he says. That view
shouldn't, he says, carry over to inanimate objects.

It's not that he's not a voracious reader – he finishes more
than a book a day, not including the "partials." He just wants to make
the most of his time.

"We should treat books a little more like we treat TV
channels," he argues. No one has trouble flipping away from a boring

There is more:

"If I'm reading a truly, actively bad book, I'll throw it out," he
says. His wife will protest, but he points out that he's doing a public
service: "If I don't throw it out, someone else might read it." If that
person is one of the many committed to finishing a book once started,
he's actually doing harm.

Mr. Cowen, who says he couldn't finish Alexandre Dumas' "The
Three Musketeers" or John Dos Passos' "U.S.A.," offers a more direct
economic rationale. He notes that many up-and-coming writers complain
they can't break through in a best-seller-driven marketplace. "We're
also making markets more efficient," Mr. Cowen says. "If you can sample
more books, you're giving more people a chance."


I throw out books that I think are bad with my waste paper, giving them a fighting chance of being rescued by a worker at the recycling facility.

Books that I think are worse than just plain bad or that I find offensive get discarded with my waste paper, too. But I destroy them first, just to be on the safe side.

I'm sorry to say that this is exactly the approach I took to "What Price Frame?" Except I did not throw it in the waste bin. :)

If a book is uninteresting, I usually stop reading pretty quickly. Everything else would be stupid: I'm a very very slow reader of uninteresting texts.

And Tyler, seems like you like to hear yourself talking in your quotations.

Someone once said (or is thought to have said),
"I never met a man I didn't like." That would
be rarer with books. Napoleon liked to read,
sometimes in very busy settings, but he would
throw a book across the room if he disliked it.
In the two decades of my teaching, I got well
into several interesting books which I didn't
finish purely for lack of time. Since I left
teaching, I have seldom read more than ten
pages of a book I didn't finish. I was unable to
complete "War and Peace" until I left the
classroom. I do think, however, that you can
read individual poems and only some essays in
a new volume. And I have done so for many years.

If I don't throw it out, someone else might read it.

I felt that way after making it only thirty pages into Atlas Shrugged.

This advice is as old (and venerable) as Dr. Johnson.

I like to read the 'Look Inside' and reader review features at Amazon in order to get the general scope of a book...I also find many books have longer preview reads @ google books...taking a speed reading course during HS helped me to become a much faster reader which helps in discarding unwanted books long before wasting further time.

I usually give books 50 pages - for me that's 15-40 minutes, depending on genre and how complicated it is. but since I have 373 books in my 500 square foot apartment and another 289 in storage, I mostly read books from the library.

This advice has changed my life. I take my attachments to the next level...I refuse to buy another book until I finish the one I am reading. Sometimes I just give up when I have to, but most of the time I significantly miss out on things I thought would be interesting but don't bother buying just so I can make sure that I stay committed to a book I never finish. Which means the rate at which I read a book per year is very low.

So what shall I do now? Go buy a book. Maybe "Create your own economy?" I'll let you know if I finish it or not. =P

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