I usually stay with a book, even though I’m sort of just plodding through it. I persevere and get to the end before putting it aside with some relief. If you get, say, half way through a book I reckon you’ve invested enough of your time already and owe it to yourself and the author to go the distance.
I mean, you wouldn’t go to a football match and, just because it hasn’t lived up to expectation, walk out at half-time, would you? You’d give it a chance to improve.
But more recently I’m changing. For a start I’m no longer acquiring my books in the same manner. For many years now I’ve generally bought at charity shops where you can have a good nose around, pick up the book, read the blurb, make a reasonably certain decision that it’s up your street before parting with your £1. (I generally throw a bit more in actually, in a charity shop, as I suspect others do). The other way I’d acquire a book is by personal recommendation, from someone I trust. Then I’ll dive into Amazon and call it up, confident that it’ll be OK.
But now it’s bit different. I’ve acquired a Kindle, so there’s no more picking up the physical book to check it out. Of course if you stick to the better-known authors you’ll generally know what you’re getting. And if there’s a predominance of 5-star reviews then, assuming the genre is right for you, you can shop pretty confidently.
The other thing though is that I’ve been nosing around the blogosphere much more in the last year or so. With my new wannabe author hat on I’ve taken much more interest in the 99% of the writing industry that swims around under the surface, below the headline acts. There are big numbers of writers out there, as well as many commentators and bloggers. Many (though not all) of the writers are desperate to be read and they will do most anything to sell you their book.
As a result I’ve been taking a chance on some new writers. Actually it’s hardly taking a chance as Kindle downloads are ridiculously cheap, and often free. And I’ve had the pleasure of discovering one or two very good writers that really ought to be more mainstream and successful. Their writing is a cut above many of the household names that churn out predictable work to an established and loyal reader base.
But I threw two books in the corner last night, one after the other. (Metaphorically speaking of course, those Kindles aren’t cheap). One started off nicely enough, but suddenly, one after the other, three of the characters developed super powers! The end (for me) came as a bloke careered through a town on a motor bike avoiding certain death by all manner of stunts and somersaults which might have looked good on the big screen but really… But it was free and I give credit to the author for writing and completing any story but what a waste of time. (Others might like it, maybe I’m just not the author’s target market by, like, 40 years).
The next was a short story about a couple, one of whom was a transexual. I’m puzzled as to how it’s there in the first place and I lasted about two pages.
It’s no wonder that one sometimes falls gratefully into the arms of John Grisham, Nick Hornby, Patricia Cornwell, Stephen King or Ian McEwan.