Do you give up on bad books?   Put them down before the end?

I used to be horribly stubborn.  I would wade through things I found numbingly dull, like Charlotte Bronte’s Villette.  I’m quicker to give up now, especially when I have a shelf of books beckoning me.  Just recently I gave up on Love, and Other Impossible Pursuits.  It may contain the “wry candor and tender humor” that the publisher claims, but it was buried beneath name-dropping brands and a painful display of grief.  Not the good kind of display of grief, where you put yourself in the character’s shoes and have a good cry, but the kind that you want to look away from, embarrassed, because it’s become ridiculous.

I also might have given up on Downriver if it hadn’t been our Wednesday book club selection.  The man doesn’t understand the delicate art of exposition.  He lays out the set-up like a couple two-by-fours. Clunky.  The characters don’t surprise you.  The plot does, because you expect it to be a plot-driven story.  A bunch of problem kids stealing equipment and setting off rafting down the Grand Canyon.  Sounds like a page turner, right?  Or at least you’d better hope.  And it’s going along decently until you turn the page and suddenly the game’s up.  Next to anticlimactic in the dictionary, there is a picture of the book cover.  And the summary gets boxed into a stilted letter.  I wasn’t expecting any True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle but I was hoping for a little bit more satisfaction.

Jeff thinks there’s something to be gained from finishing a bad book.  (Apart from a heated bashing, I suppose?) Which, yes, that’s sometimes true.  But how do you decide when to give up?