When to give up on a book

Who knew planning a wedding was stressful and time-consuming? Well, I found that out last week, which is why my posts seem farther and farther apart. We are getting down to crunch time until the “big day” (less than three weeks), so I have been doing some much needed arrangements. Let me tell you, picking out the music has been the hardest part.

All the personal stuff aside, last week I realized I wasn’t reading as fast or as often as I had been before. If you check my blog often, or even just once last week, you would have seen that I was reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I thought I was going to really like the book, since I enjoy his T.V. show, and it was supposed to contain some useful advice for dining out. However, this couldn’t have been further from the truth.

I remembered partway in that I find Bourdain rather pretentious. This theory was only reinforced by the book. Not only that, but it was BORING. He gives “advice” for those who want to look like they cook like a chef, but his thoughts are outdated (garnish with a sprig of parsley!) and pompous (most people have butter in their house, but according to him, only real chefs do). He repeats himself, and I had only read a few chapters.

So this lead me to ponder: when do you give up on a book? I have heard a couple of different theories. One is that you make it to 50 pages, and if you still have no interest, drop it. Another interesting one is that you take the number 100 and subtract your age. Read that many pages, and if you feel nothing, let it go. Ok, so I had to read either 50 or 74 pages. I did one better and read about 90.

I could not bring myself to finish the book. I finished 4 Blondes, why not this one? I think there are a lot of reasons. I discovered I no longer liked Anthony Bourdain as a person. In a fictional novel, the feelings about the author are rarely involved. In an “auto-biographical” novel, that’s really all there is. He has an attitude toward non-chefs, and from the beginning of the book comes off as having an “I am better than the reader” demeanor.

I thought I would really like all of the behind-the-scenes information he gives about dining out at restaurants. There is the ever popular “don’t eat fish on Mondays,” which I will say James and I have followed ever since he read this book (by the way, he never finished it either). After reading the actual chapter about this, it made me feel like it didn’t really pertain to me. We don’t live in New York, although we visit often. I am sure there are some ideas that carry over to the D.C. area, but I felt like some of his comments were more for the shock factor than anything else.

I am not a huge fan of non-fiction. I have read some really good non-fiction novels, but if given the chance, I would choose a fiction novel any day. I sat there looking at all of the other books I had to read on my shelves, and I questioned why I was wasting my time. Technically, I never bought the book, James did, so doesn’t that mean it shouldn’t really count toward the large number that I am requiring myself to read? I admit that seems like a cop out, but at the end of the day, reading is for pleasure, and this book gave me none of it.

So, I put it back on the shelf for now. I can honestly say that I don’t think I have any intentions of picking it up again. I have moved on to a classic, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I am ashamed to say that I have never read it. Although, a few chapters in, it already makes me ask this question: if the book had been written today, would it still be as popular?

I have also been listening to The Host by Stephanie Meyer audiobook in my car. It’s… interesting. Twlight meets Aliens. That review will be coming in the near future, since I only have about 4 discs left. I will apologize in advance for any lengthy gaps in posts. With the wedding so close we have a lot to do!

I am curious, do you have any “rules” for when to put a book down and move on?

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2 thoughts on “When to give up on a book

  1. I completely agree with you when you say books should bring enjoyment. I was an avid reader until required reading for school and having to analyze and make notes for every single paragraph of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” sucked all enjoyment I got out of reading. Only recently have I started reading for enjoyment again, and like a long lost friend, they have welcomed me back. I’m mixing in new books with some of y old favorites that have sat neglected on my shelves. I still have a list of books I “should” read rather than want to read, so I go about a chapter a year. Not the way the writer intended, but how else do you get through “War and Peace?”
    -Eliabeth

    • I know what you mean about analysis sucking the fun out of reading. I am happy to actually be reading the classics now that I was supposed to read then. I am glad you are enjoying reading again; it should never feel like a requirement! Maybe skip the “War and Peace”?!

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