How many pages do you give a book before you quit reading it?
July 7, 2014
How far do you read in a book before you close it for good and move on to another one?
Readers close most books within the first twenty pages or so.
I hate to be predictable, but I fall into this same pattern.
Except that I probably don’t make it twenty pages.
If a book doesn’t grab me in the first ten pages, I can’t stay with it.
I know this means I may have missed countless pages of great writing in my lifetime.
Sorry, but I’m too old to keep reading something that may or may not come to life on page fifty.
I was not always so impatient. When I was young, I imposed a reading discipline on myself. My goal was not to quit reading for the day until I had read a hundred pages.
I’m a slow reader, and I wasn’t skimming.
Much of what I read in those days wasn’t fiction. It was dense philosophical or theological stuff, which made the sledding even tougher.
When I did read novels, I read classics because I felt like I needed to be familiar with the great works of literature.
That was tough sledding, too.
Dostoevsky isn’t an easy read.
Fast forward forty years.
Now virtually all I read is fiction.
Most of the books I read are the works of Indie authors, the people I believe to be the real writers, the men and women who write because they must with little hope of developing a broad fan base. They keep at it anyway.
But when I read a book by an Indie, I judge it by the same standards as one written by a “brand name” star. Maybe I judge it even more harshly.
That is one of the ironies in the book world.
I’ll stick with James Lee Burke or Pat Conroy even if I hit a rough patch and my mind starts to wander, or I feel the urge to move on. I guess I do that because I come to those sorts of books with a bias in favor of the writer. I have read enough of their words in years past that I convince myself that just around the corner I will find words worth remembering.
But with the first book of an Indie author, one whom I have not read before, I don’t have any goodwill built up. If that writer bores or loses me in the first ten pages, he’s toast.
However, when it comes to my own writing, I have discovered the way to move forward, the way that should please my three fans and avoid the death sentence of their reading only my first twenty pages and quitting.
I plan to write nineteen page novels from now on.
How about you?
How far do you read before you close a book forever?