100 Pages Give or Take

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I don't know about you but whenever I read a book, especially a work of fiction, I have this theory about the first 100 pages. That is, if I haven't gotten into the characters or plot during the first 100 pages, chances are I won't. Of course I can think of a few exceptions to this rule.

For example, a few years ago I made a deliberate effort to read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It was one of those books that falls into the category of I-really-should-read-this-in-order-to-be-a-good-human. With that motivation I toted a paperback copy around with me and read it every chance I got (mainly during my lengthy commute). At the time I distinctly remember reading the book and thinking It's going to get better. It has to get better. Over and over I kept repeating that mantra. In fact I held onto that hope for the first 400 pages of the book. 400! That's like a third of the book. But know what? It DID get better and I actually started to care about the characters. Not only that but I was fascinated by the political and social message conveyed in the story. Sticking with the book helped me understand what made the work such a pivotal and controversial piece of literature and made me wonder if there is a threshold at which something you dislike for so long can actually turn into something worth liking.

But back to the first 100 pages. Most novels tap out at about 300 pages. Which again is essentially one third of the book.  For me, this is what makes or breaks a book. And even though I might not like what I'm reading I rarely set a book aside, by simply choosing not to finish it. That's hard for me. Even if I really dislike a book I push through. Sometimes skimming to the last couple of chapters just for that fleeting feeling that I accomplished something. I'm not saying that's healthy or even advisable, but that's how I operate. In truth, I admire people that can set a book aside, return it to the library, and move on without a second thought. Sometimes I just feel obligated to finish a book, especially if it's for a book cub. But maybe I should rethink that approach. After all, escaping into something you like is much better than the alternative, right?

What about you, do you push through novels even if they aren't your thing? Or do you scrap a book if it hasn't captured you in the first 100 pages?

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1 comments:

  1. Life's too short to read bad books (or books that just don't resonate with you).

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