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On Giving Up

2013 September 10

This morning, on the way to work, I threw in the towel. I’d been readingLife of Pi for the last week and I was over it. I’d been feeling stalled, uninspired, and a little bored over the first 100 pages or so, but I downright just couldn’t take it anymore when the main character (Pi) gets stranded in a lifeboat with wild animals (including a Bengal tiger, a spotted hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, and an orangutan named Orange Juice) after the ship he’s taking  to Canada with his whole family sinks in a storm.

This book won the Man Booker Prize and it was made into an award-winning and beloved movie. Joe enjoyed it and recommended it to me, and many other friends have read it and loved it. So, even though I didn’t understand how a book about a boy in a boat with a tiger would appeal to me, I listened to the hype and picked up Joe’s copy from our book case.

I was plodding along steadily when it occurred to me last night that I just wasn’t enjoying the book. Once this thought enters my head, it’s difficult to escape. I don’t like quitting books, but the lure of the other books stacked in my “to read” pile on my desk is so great–they have so much potential! What if my new favorite book is there, waiting for me, and I’m wasting my time on this story I could care less about? The final straw came this morning as I was reading on the crowded subway on the way to work. I was already in a bad mood because I didn’t get much sleep last night, I skipped the gym to go vote in the NYC primary, I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and the one cup of coffee I’d had wasn’t cutting it. So, perhaps I was hasty. Perhaps I was too impatient. But a scene in which some serious animal carnage is described just pushed me over the edge. I don’t deal well with animal suffering, even fictional animal suffering, so I closed the book and threw it back in my bag, angry at the world.

Now, my cranky mood this morning could be partially to blame for my giving up on this book, but it was probably only a small factor. In the end, if a book I’m reading is making me more frustrated than happy, and if I don’t look forward to reading it, I’m going to put it down. Life is just too short, and I’ve got WAYYY too many other books I’m looking forward to reading.

Do you ever give up on books? What pushes you over the edge? Have you read Life of Pi? Am I crazy for not finishing it?


7 Responses Post a comment
  1. September 10, 2013

    Oh, I think you should keep going! You’ve passed the only truly gory part of the book. I just re-read it after several years… it’s my mom’s favorite book and she got so excited about teaching it in conjunction with the movie’s release that her enthusiasm inspired me. Truthfully, I didn’t like it as much the second time around, but what really impressed me this time was the imagery. The ending is pretty thought-provoking, too.
    I hardly ever give up on books… but I used to sometimes read the end of ones that I got bored with to see if they turned interesting. Usually that inspired me to figure out how the author got from A to B. I *don’t* recommend doing that with Life of Pi though! You should muddle through! If you hate it, you can blame me (and/or Joe, ha).

  2. September 10, 2013

    I haven’t read Life of Pi, partly because the person who recommended it to me has a perfect track record of recommending books that I hated. I agree with you that life is too short to waste on bad books. I quit reading books all the time, and a lot of the books I can’t get through are very popular. I think I managed one chapter of The Devil Wears Prada and then just about threw it at the wall in frustration. I do force myself to finish difficult classics.

  3. Nancy permalink
    September 11, 2013

    Life of Pi is on the top of my worst books list. I gave up on it and never looked back. It’s ok!

  4. September 12, 2013

    I gave up on Life of Pi as well! I don’t even think I made it 100 pages. I’ve actually discovered that I usually dislike Man Booker Prize winners, but I often like the rest of the shortlist. Regardless, I put this up there with The Kite Runner, which is another incredibly popular book I put down after starting. I don’t care if it removes me from the trend or social conversation–I’m not going to waste my time on something I dislike when there’s plenty out there to be interested in.

  5. September 12, 2013

    I never had any interest in reading Life of Pi, but then reluctantly added it to my To Read list after many friends told me how much they loved it, and how much they thought I would love it. I have yet to tackle it, but plan to give it a try one of these days.

  6. September 14, 2013

    I quit this book and never looked back! There are too many other fish in the sea.

  7. September 26, 2013

    While I enjoyed Life of Pi, I completely understand Abandoned Books (even a draft of a post in my blogger dashboard with that title). Life is too short and the to-be-read pile is too long. Sometimes I go back to finish books, but most of the time, I don’t bother. No harm in it if it’s reading for pleasure you’re after.

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