Hits and Misses

I am presently reading a book about the Civil War–Gettysburg to be exact. I picked it up on the discount rack at Wal-Mart. I am embarrassed to say that most of the books I buy come from some sort of discount rack, either in a store on online. Because I am one of those who benefit from people buying my books, I really should be buying the hardcover books, but I don’t. I admit it: I’m cheap.

But this is a little more in-depth that I usually go for with a historical “novel.” I say “novel” because it really is non-fiction, but written in novel style. And because when I read fiction, I am looking for a good story, but this incredible volume is slowing me down in my reading for entertainment.

So why don’t I just put down the book and grab another one? Really, I don’t know. It’s not like I don’t know the ending: the South loses. But there are some books that I decide to stick with to the very end because I feel like I am getting something out of them, even when they aren’t as entertaining as I would have liked.

How do you decide whether you are going to continue with a book or not? Or put the other way: when do you decide to stop reading a book? I have a library at home, a study with three walls lined with books. I’d say about 20 percent of those are books I haven’t read or started and put aside. Sometimes it’s false advertising: you read the back cover and see a unique premise and think that the book has possibilities. Then you read the book and find that the author can’t write. That happens often, unfortunately, when I pick up indie books. For the most part, you get what you pay for. Indie books don’t have a monopoly on lousy writing, but it’s a lot easier to get it out there when you do it that way, and thousands of books appear every year that should have been kept in the bottom drawer of the desk.

So sometimes it’s just lousy writing. Other times it’s typos, misspelling and bad editing. I would imagine those two reasons would kill pretty much any story that I start.

But sometimes there is a book that has a good premise, good writing and editing, but is just plain slow. That’s when I ask myself whether I should invest more of my time in a book that moves like molasses. And the result is about 50-50. I think, deep down, I am looking for something with each book I read: entertainment, inspiration, knowledge, or maybe to feel good that I tackled a book that wasn’t “fluff.” In any case, the answer is subjective.

And then there are times when I am just not in the mood for a particular type of book. I went through a period when I was reading a lot of YA books, and most of them dystopian stories. When they all started sounding the same, I knew it was time to switch gears and go in another direction.

So tell me…what tells you to stop reading?