Do You Finish Every Book You Start?

A few days ago a friend of mine came to visit and when she saw the many books I’ve accumulated on my various shelves since the last time she was here, she asked me “Do you finish every book you start? When will you get through all these books in your house?”

Actually this is a question that many real book readers are struggling with regularly (including me). Now there are really two camps about this: one who has to finish a book once started, no matter how bad the book turns out to be, and the other who only finishes a book if it’s good, leaving the rest unfinished. Of course this second camp can go through a huge bookshelf much faster than the first.

my many books
my many books

So where do I stand? Years and years ago I was reading every book I started, even if I literally hated it, or got me boring to tears. At some point, however, I realized that I were amassing more books (through buying, trading and library loaning) than I would ever get to – and authors wouldn’t stop writing books just because I couldn’t keep up!

So I made the painful (at the time) decision to let go of a book if it didn’t speak to me.

And let me tell you, I never regretted this decision and that’s what I still do. If I pick up a book and it doesn’t get me excited at around page 100, the book goes to the “can’t bother with” shelf until I have enough of them to bring them to the local church charity bookshop. If it’s a virtual bookshelf with Kindle books or other eBooks, I just delete it from my device.

Not only that, but since I started this blog, I decided that even if I get a book to read and review, I will not review it if I can’t finish it, it’s just not fair, not to the author and not to the blog readers. That’s why you won’t ever find on this site a review of a book that sucked really bad.

Of course this also brings me to another question – how can I finish all the books I already have on my shelf? And how can you?

Well, with this system of read 100 pages and decide to continue reading or I move on has already helped me make a small dent in my huge TBR shelves. However I still have around 1000 books at home (I used to have over 2000, but at some point I gave away about half of them when a very charitable mood struck me).

And one day I just had an epiphany. It is OK to not read all the books on the already overflown shelves. It is ok if the room looks like a well worn out library or a warehouse for the matter. I simply gave myself the permission to read as many books I can and not stress about the rest. And so can you – if you have too many books at home, it’s ok to let go of some of them. As I mentioned before, authors won’t stop writing and there will be always more books to read than you will ever manage to do in this lifetime.

So how do you deal with books that you’ve started reading? Do you finish every book you start, even if it badly sux?

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17 Comments

  1. I always give my best effort to finish each book I pick up, especially because I find the last 100 pages often redeem a “not so great” start.

    I know exactly what you mean about stressing yourself out about reading as many as possible, though. With so many unread books on the shelves, I definitely get anxious about finishing them before buying new ones.

    I think it comes down to what you want your reading experience to be. Do you want to read as many as possible and be proud of your accomplishment that way? Or do you want to take it slowly and enjoy the process of reading in a relaxed way?

  2. I used to read every book I started but that was years ago. If I don’t like it, I move on.
    I DO, however, have a challenge with letting any books go that are on my bookshelves. I love books and parting w/them is ridiculously hard (so sayeth my overflowing shelves 😉 ).

  3. Nope, I do not finish every book. If I get halfway through a book and it is still not holding my attention I give up and get another.

  4. I have books I have repeatedly started or tried to pick back up until I finally realize, you know what, this one just isn’t for me. That’s hard to do when you just LOVE reading and books, but time in life is limited so it should be spent on things that inspire us 🙂

  5. I only read books that I am sure will see to the finish.. that is my rule! But that doesn’t stop me from having a land fill of a book case haha

  6. I have tried to put a book that I wasn’t into aside, but I find this very very difficult. I think I have only not finished 2 books and I still very guilty about the 1…

  7. I am a pretty ridiculous reader. I do finish the books I start even if they are terrible. My son and I both read a lot and he will stop reading something and move to the next book. I don’t know why but I just have to read what I start. It is so bad sometimes it took me 3 months to read one book because it was just awful but I couldn’t quit.

  8. Nope, I don’t. I LOVE to read, and after so long of reading, I know what books I like and what books I don’t. So I normally read through the 5th chapter. If nothing grabs me by then, I move on.

  9. I generally try to finish every book I purchase. But if a book seriously does not interest me and I’m bored reading it, then I won’t finish it. It’s not worth it. Plus I’m probably already getting excited about reading a different book. That being said, I don’t typically review any books I did not finish. I do add it to my did not finish shelf on Goodreads though.

  10. I do, but if it’s boring I skim through most of the pages, just in case the book will get interesting. Sometimes it is worth it and a book may have started boring but turned into a fantastic read. Other times it doesn’t stop being boring. then it’ll take me a very short time to read through, jump pages, scan others quickly, get to the last page and say ‘Well, THAT was interesting!’ 😉

  11. Sadly, I do finish every book I start. I wish I weren’t like that, because I have wasted a lot of time reading a bad book when I could have been either reading a good book or doing something productive.

  12. I think the only time I ever really finish a book is when I am on holiday and I take a specific book with me. I think sometimes my overstimulated mind could do with finishing a nice happy relaxing fun book. I do read certain books several times though, like ‘Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy’ or ‘Alice in Wonderland’ 🙂

  13. No, I don’t. If I start a book and I am not hooked by the end of the first chapter, I stop reading it. I hate to waste my time if it seems like I am not going to be able to get into the book.

  14. I think if you give a book a fair shot and don’t like it, why waste your time and bother reading the rest? Especially since there are soooo many other books out there that you can read and enjoy. Sometimes if I don’t have much else to read or if the book is just ok, then I will finish. Some books suck me in enough to finish because I want to find out what happens even if it’s just an ok book. If it’s truly horrible I will stop reading. Once in a while a book will start out bad or boring but get better. In that case I either keep reading to see if it does get better or kinda skim through the rest of the book just to see what happens.

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