New poll - Page rule

Monday, August 12, 2013

Over the years, I have read about several readers who gave books a specific number of pages before considering giving up on them.  Some set it as a rule and some are less strict about it.  If we look at a poll I made some years ago, 51% of the respondents answered that they finished all the books they picked up.  If that number still stands, half of us readers shouldn't have a number of pages rule to give each books a chance.

At first glance, this kind of rule seems like a good idea if you want to read more books of quality and don't have any time to waste but I'm pretty sure that if you apply this concept with everything you read, you will probably pass on some great novels with a slow start. That question popped up when I read a comment by a reader on my recent review of Mage's Blood by David Hair.  The reader dropped the book after a hundred pages.  He didn't mention it was because of a rule and it was probably simply because he didn't find anything of interest after that many pages.

As I commented, I understand the feeling and I'm not writing this post to try to change his mind but this novel is, as far as my opinion goes, a good example of a book that could be put out to fast.  I'm certain that we can all find other names to add to that list, books that have a slow start but ends up to our satisfaction. I would probably have missed on Erikson's Malazan series or R. Scott Bakker books if I had a 50 pages rule.

I have never read with a number of pages in mind before giving up on a book and I admit that it's not often that I put one down before the end. However, being a reviewer, I think that I have to read most of them to the end to give an accurate opinion of the whole work.  Still, there are some books that I had to put down. Sometimes they remain on the to-read pile for later; I think there are some novels that you have to be in the right mindset to enjoy...  sometimes it's simply not to my taste but that doesn't mean that it's a bad book...

Taking everything into consideration, even with so many good books to enjoy, a page rule number still seems a wild guess to me.  Anyway, with this poll, I'm interested in your experience and opinion. It's time to share!

How many pages do you give a book before giving up?
- Less than 20
- 50 or so
- 100 or so
- Half of it
- I always finish them
- Depends on the book


Antonakis said...

I usually give a book 25-30% of its total length before I quit. I think that's a fair amount of pages that allow the author to present his story and characters. If I don't like it by then, I don't really believe that anything more can happen to make my change my mind. There have been exceptions to this rule of course, for better or for worse, but that's what I usually do.

Phil said...

@Antonakis: Do you have some examples of books you dropped?

Antonakis said...

I can remember clearly a book that I could not continue and dropped recently. It was "How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe" by Charles Yu. It was one of those books that I felt like it tried to be clever too much for its own good. I dropped it just after reaching the mid-point and used a quote from the book in my review: "There is a sense in which I am pretty sure this makes no sense. I don’t know where this is going. I don’t know how it ends."

Antonakis said...

Ah, I remembered another one that I had to drop very recently. It was Pattern (Scavenger Trilogy #2) by K.J. Parker . I stopped reading this one at 28% (p. 160) and I noted: "This book is not really working for me. The plot drags and it feels like there's no point or aim in this story. It didn't grab me at all and I found the story uninteresting. Maybe I'll continue later."
...but we almost never do, do we?

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