1. Xyphon
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    Xyphon Member

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    How much will you read?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Xyphon, Aug 31, 2011.

    Hello guys, I have a question for all of you today.
    How much of a book will you read before deciding if it's worth your time? Basically, how many pages or chapters or percentage of a book will you read before making the judgement of whether it is a good book or not?

    Obviously, some books start slow, as they need to ease you into the situation. They also need to introduce the characters and whatnot. Because of this, I will usually read about 30 pages of a book before making that judgement. I think this is a fair number because most books are over 200 pages so you really aren't reading that much.

    That being said, there are some books that I give up before I really start them, and that is mainly if I can tell from the first few pages that it just isn't my kind of book(not to say that it isn't good, it just isn't for me).

    There were a few books in school that when I began I had the initial assumption that the books were bad(you know, school books and whatnot), and the beginnings made me think the same thing. However, after reading a bit into it I found that I quite enjoyed the book.

    Two examples of this are "The Catcher in the Rye" and "The Stranger(otherwise known as "The Outsider")". I didn't like the beginning of either of them but when I got into it(especially for "The Catcher in the Rye"), I started to really enjoy them.

    So... how much will you read?
     
  2. Mr. Sweet
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    Mr. Sweet New Member

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    Not sure I agree with the notion that all books start slowly. To test your hypothesis, I picked up some random books I had lying on my desk. Here are the first lines of them all. I did not filter these.

    "Jose Palacios, his oldest servant, found him floating naked with his eyes open in the purifying waters of his bath and thought he had drowned."--The General in his Labyrinth, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    "When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin." --The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka

    "Garp's mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater."--The World According to Garp, by John Irving

    "My suffering left me sad and gloomy."--Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

    "So."--Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney



    All these lines capture me and make me want to read more, except maybe the last one.
     
  3. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I'll give a book a page or two.

    Maybe less if I determine the writer thinks it's okay to waste my time by starting slow just because they can.
     
  4. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Same for me.
     
  5. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Definitely incorrect about most books starting off slow, at least not in recent times. In fact many books are guilty of starting strong then lagging after the first few chapters. Anyway I look at the blurb. If the concept is something interesting enough to get me to open the book, then I'll give it thirty pages. Thirty pages is enough to determine whether a story has enough of a draw to keep me invested for 300 pages. I currently finish about 10 percent of the books I start.
     
  6. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Same for me, too.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't mind slow starts as long as it gets interesting around 40-50 pages in.
     
  8. Xyphon
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    Xyphon Member

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    A page or two is a little harsh, isn't it? There is only so much that can happen in 2 pages. Also, there aren't many books that have a lot of stuff happening in the first 2 pages. Most books that I have read have the first 2 pages as an explanation, showing the setting and maybe giving a little info on the main character. You can't honestly expect every book to have its first 2 pages to be action packed.
    What about a romance novel? What about a drama? Rarely does anything happen in the first 2 pages for these genres.
    EDIT: I suppose it was a bit too much to say that most books start slowly, I will fix that.
     
  9. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That depends. If I like the author already, and know they may be prone to rambling (Dickens, Steinbeck), I'll give more leeway.

    Otherwise, a few pages. Sometimes a chapter or two.
     
  10. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    It's not always about what is happening, but how it's written. I can tell whether or not the author is going to engage me within two pages.

    If those pages just explain things and show me the setting, I'm putting the book down.
     
  11. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    This. If it's written in first person, I go to about the end of the first page, and if it's written badly as I've found most first person work to be, then I put it down. If it's by an author I like or if it's something I've been told is good, then I can usually go to the end.

    A lot of the time, I found myself disliking the style of writing in the Sookie Stackhouse books, but I persevered because a) I wanted to beat my brother's girlfriend to the end of the series (even though I started about two months after her (I did beat her)), and b) I'd committed time to it already, so I decided to finish.
     
  12. Xyphon
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    Xyphon Member

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    If you don't care if anything really cool is happening, yet you don't want the first 2 pages to explain the setting, then what exactly is it that you want?

    I am partially asking because I feel that my beginning is a bit weak, and I want some ideas on how to make it a bit better. I would post it here, but I haven't been a user for long enough.

    Also, if I remember correctly, Brave New World explained the setting in the first few pages, didn't it? That was a great book. I think some of you are very harsh when it comes to judging a book.
     
  13. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    1. There's a difference between something being engaging and something being pure information. The first is good and easy to read. Exactly as it says on the label, it engages you. The second is showing off: "Look how much I know about the place I made up!"
    For example, not much happened (in comparison to the entire book) in the first couple of chapters of Harry Potter, but we learned who the characters were as opposed to just being told. There was some telling (about Aunt Petunia basically being a peeping Tom and all that, but mostly we learned from their actions and dialogue who they were.

    2. There's actually an argument here somewhere on the value of Brave New World as a novel, considering that there's a large readership who believe it's practically a copy of an earlier work.

    3. If you think your beginning is weak, look at it and find out why you think it's weak. I mean, this isn't something that somebody ELSE has told you, clearly; you said that YOU think it's a bit weak. So consider what you think would make it stronger, and work on it.
    When you post it here, you should be content that you (YOU) have done everything (EVERYTHING) you can for it.
     
  14. Xyphon
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    Xyphon Member

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    Alright, I see what you mean now.
    The fact still remains that it is an interesting read, despite the fact that the beginning is just an explanation of the setting.
    Well, I generally thought it was a bit weak because of the general complaint about "slowness". When I read it, I enjoy it, but it's hard to tell if it is genuinely good, or if it is just my blindness for my own work.

    Basically, my story is about a world where machines are all run by magic as opposed to everything we use. It starts out with the main character in class, thinking back at his situation. It is shown (partially through his thoughts, partially through narrative), that he used to be part of royalty, but he was disowned by his family because he had a low rating in magic (as they need to keep the good 'blood' in their family). It shows his discontent with being in a public school as opposed to a magic school, and his disliking for the fact that everyone else is content with their situations.

    Do you think that sounds boring? It is a novel targeted towards young adults, keep that in mind.
     
  15. LostInFiction
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    LostInFiction Senior Member

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    Once I start a book (or even watching a film) I have to finish it. If it's a great story then I want to finish it but if it is indifferent, rubbish or absolutely diabolical then I have to finish it in the hope it redeems itself. It's an annoying habit but I just can't help myself! lol.
    Once I've read the entire thing I am very clear on whether I enjoyed the book or not :)
    A couple of books I wanted to put down include: Wicked by Gregory Maguire, Witches and Wizards by James Patterson and I really should have left the cinema half way through A.I....
     
  16. Xyphon
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    Xyphon Member

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    I am that way for films, but only because I don't want my 10 dollars to go to waste. I have never met someone before that is that way for books(unless maybe they bought the book before starting it), but I can still see why you might feel the need to finish the book after you started it.
     
  17. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unless the writing is just horrible and I can't find anything redeeming in the storyline, I will give a book a 100 pages before I give up. I've read several books that had slow beginnings, but middles and endings so great it was worth it. But if it doesn't pick up by page 100, then the writer is just crap.
    I think it's okay to have some slow explanations sometimes, but I think it needs to be done at a point where we actually care about the character enough to bother to learn it. Right now I'm reading a game of thrones (which is taking forever because I have a million other books to read for school), and there is so much information given that I probably would have liked to know when I began caring for the characters, but I still don't do that, so I just skim read it all.
     
  18. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^
    See, reading 100 pages seems like a bit of an 'investment' already. I'm not nearly that patient if something strikes me as being rubbish.

    Similarly, I don't keep all the books I buy. Some are definitely one-time-reads only, so I don't see the point in keeping them on my (pristine) bookshelves. :)
     
  19. NaughtyNick
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    NaughtyNick Member

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    I always want to give every book I read a chance, but every now and again I come across one that goes way over my head. A few months ago I randomly withdrew Ulysses by James Joyce from the library. I read the first scene and was left so confused by the dialogue and the prose in general that I had to give up.
     
  20. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I don't have a set amount.
    I have tossed a book aside after two pages, or after two chapters.
    If I took the trouble to get it, I will give it a chance.

    I have tossed a book at half way also.
     
  21. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Active Member

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    If it's from the library, I'll give it three chapters or so, depending on the chapter lengths. If I bought the book myself, I'll read the whole damn thing either way.
     
  22. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Active Member

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    This is how I felt about Warrior by Marie Brennan. (No offense to anyone who may like that book.)
     
  23. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Since most of the books I read have been recommended by someone I know I tend to give more leeway. The biggest reason for putting a book down for me is that I'm squeamish with certain types of violence.
     
  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with popsicledeath, Trish, Malory, and others. A page or two. If there isn't something to grab my interest within that first couple of pages, I've got better things to do than to continue reading it to see if it gets better.
     
  25. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wonder if the answers pertain to browsing through a bookstore or books already purchased. Because those are two vastly different situations. I'm sure a library fits in somewhere here, but I don't use a library since they never seem to have the latest books.
     

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