How much time should you give a book?

After the heavy reading for my nineteenth-century novel course, I was looking forward to a fast-paced thriller to kick start my New Year reading. I wanted a page turner, something to read very quickly before getting back to the nineteenth century.

A few years ago during a holiday to Turkey, I read a book by Linwood Barclay. No Time for Goodbye, I think. I’d picked it up at the airport. It came with a recommendation from Richard and Judy. I read it in a day. It kept me engaged enough to stay up into the early hours, which I could do, of course, because I was on holiday.

At the start of this year, I wanted something just as engaging. Without hesitating, I picked up another Linwood Barclay, A Tap on the Window. 

Just 100 pages in, and I could quite easily have thrown it through a window. I could have stopped reading, but I didn’t. I kept going. I hoped it would get better, ignite some spark of interest. If I’ve invested time in a book, I always like to finish it. I struggled on. And what a struggle it was.

I thought it might get better. I thought it might pick up pace. It didn’t. It was slow, clumsy, predictable and irritating! It was definitely IRRITATING!

I got the impression that the book had been produced in a hurry. There was a real lack of care to it. Maybe because the first books by Barclay were bestsellers, then it’s taken for granted that the others will sell, even if they are sub-standard. Perhaps it’s just a case of bashing them out.

Some of the writing was nothing short of sloppy. The worst thing was that the author did not give the reader any credit whatsoever. We were told everything. I didn’t have to do any work. I was bored. I know I’m repeating myself here, but I was irritated by the plot and the characters. I started laughing out loud at some of the lines from the main character. I hoped that he’d just get shot and that would be the end of it.

There also seemed to be an abundance of Mars Bars. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the Mars Bar myself, but in this book they seemed to be everywhere. See page 395 if you don’t believe me.

Rather than the page turner I’d hoped for, this book turned into a massive feat of endurance. It was like taking part in a marathon. I should have just walked away, but I wanted to finish it.

By the time I finally reached the end it was mid February. I’d started in the New Year. It has taken me an embarrassingly long time to read what should have been a fast-paced, can’t put it down, thriller.

There are so many good books out there, just waiting to be discovered. What a shame I’ve wasted so much time on this one. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned.

So, without wasting another second, I am heading back to the nineteenth century.




5 thoughts on “How much time should you give a book?

  1. There are so many times when I’ve endured a book hoping that it would get better and it never does. Really we just need to get to a point where if we’re not enjoying a book, we just put it down and move on. There are so many other books out there that we WILL enjoy! Of course, that’s much easier said than done…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a question with a varied answer. If I’m reading the book for someone (fellow blogger/writer, friend, etc.) I’ll really try to push through so I can give them an honest review. If I KNOW the book gets better, I’ll give it more time for example The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo didn’t catch me until the titular character, Lisbeth Salander, showed up. The first hundred pages were about this security company that I couldn’t care less about until I saw how it related to her. Then I breezed through that and the other two without stopping.

    I have been known to finish books out of obligation though, but usually by page 100 if it’s not holding me, I put it to the side. I did that with the first book of the Mortal Instruments series. I have way too many books on my Goodreads list to waste time with stories that don’t pique my interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Writing Life – Spring inspiration comes early | Liz Champion

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