A is for Abandoning a Book

I am considering abandoning this book (The Hero with a Thousand Faces), because I have made no progress on it.

I teased it last Tuesday, but I have made only a few pages worth of progress since than. That amounts to less than a page a day. Maybe half a page a day, maybe less, I am not quite sure, but around half a page a day.

It’s just that The Hero with a Thousand Faces is so dense, with these insanely long sentences. It’s so hard to read. I have to reread basically ever paragraph in order to make sense of it.

It’s a struggle to finish even one page. I like to give a book about a hundred pages before I stop, but it will take me weeks and weeks to even finish the first hundred pages. But if I stop, this is the first time I will stop reading a book I actually want to read so fast.

I haven’t decided yet. I’ll give it another three weeks before I decide.




35 thoughts on “A is for Abandoning a Book

  1. Yeah, I’m usually slow to give up on a book as well – especially if it is one that I thought I would like. I will abandon a non-fiction book more quickly than fiction, though. I guess I’m just not as patient with non-fiction. 🙂

  2. I haven’t abandoned many books, but I understand that situation that you’re describing. Pride and Prejudice was kind of like that for me until I started getting into the rhythm and style of the writing and then it started moving faster. I ended up enjoying that book immensely

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  3. I think we all have done this… My last “walk-away” was Cutting for Stone. It was a rough read and I eventually had to set it down and not feel guilty.

    1. Oh, how could you walk away from “Cutting for Stone”? It is one the best books and best-written books I have read recently. Superbly exemplifies good writing.

  4. Sonia, I try to read one book at time, all the way through, and, even if I don’t like the book, rare, I finish it — while my unread magazines pile up. A friend came by one day and saw the stacks: “Oh, you have a magazine collection,” she said. How positive she is. Sometimes, though, I will read a book part way, set it aside and come back to it later, even a year or so later.

    Nice meeting you. Hope you stick with the A-Zs. 🙂

  5. Hi Sonia! I know how you feel. Now that I have less time to read, I find I am more picky about what I finish, because there are so many more to go. 🙂

  6. I started Hero with a Thousand Faces while on holiday and had to put it aside until I was ready for it (still waiting). You’re right it’s such a dense book, it’s not the kind of thing to read lightly.

    These days I’ve become better at abandoning books I don’t like – life’s too short!!

  7. I wouldn’t feel so bad if you abandon the book. If it doesn’t resonate with you, it doesn’t.

  8. I used to not abandon books just on principle, but then my partner pointed out that there are hundreds of thousands of other, much better books out there to read, and I shouldn’t waste my time on a book that’s not doing it for me.

    Still I have some rules about book abandonment, so I don’t do it willy-nilly. If the book has phenomenally bad writing, for example, I give myself permission to let it go. If it does terrible things to my suspension of disbelief, I also put it down. If the author wears his or her despicable politics on their sleeve, I toss it. Other than that though, I try to keep reading until the end. Which is why I have been struggling to finish Perdido Street Station for four bloody months. Even the knowledge that I only have 150 pages left to read isn’t enough to motivate me to finish it. :,(

    N J Magas, author

      1. In my opinion it’s 300 pages longer than it needs to be, but I don’t care much for world-centered books. I prefer character-centered books, so I’m finding Perdido to be incredibly dull.

  9. I think the important question is, why are you reading it? If you’re reading it because you value Campbell’s insights and want to integrate them into your own writing, then I think you should stick to it, even if it is tough going.
    However, if this is just for pleasure, than it certainly sounds like it is failing! I have plodded through books because I felt like I needed the knowledge tangled within their words, The Silmarilion and Bible come to mind, but I have also abandonded books because it was no longer worth it, such as Dante’s Inferno and Jung.
    On another note, if you do decide to set it aside for awhile, let me know. Maybe in a couple months when I’m ready we can slog through it together 🙂

      1. It might be worth it then to slog through, or at least give yourself some more time. If it’s so dense that you’re not actually getting much in the way of insights, then it may well be time to reshelve it.

  10. I have a handful of books I never finished reading because I just couldn’t get into the stories. They are sitting on a shelf with bookmarks still in from where I left off. Someday, I may go back to them, but I have so little reading time that I want to spend it on books I enjoy. As Celine, above, said, life is too short.

  11. I used to feel so guilty when I abandoned a book! I’d force myself to slog on. Now I just skim through to the end, and feel relieved that I can move on to something better.

  12. I know this was a little bit ago, but I am thinking of embarking on The Hero with a Thousand Faces come June. I don’t know if you wanted to give it another go, or not, but maybe reading it “together” could help?

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