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The Daily Dose
Smattering of Romance, Paranormal, and General Observations

Daily Dose | Do You Struggle to Finish Books?


You remember high school where you had to read the book the teacher assigned whether it was Silas Marner, The Old Man and the Sea or Cheaper by the Dozen? You remember having to finish reading it no matter how boring the tale or how dry the writing? I admit, I loved the idea behind Great Expectations, but there were passages when I wanted Dickens to just get on with it. In other cases, it was Shakespeare that I dreaded reading – Shakespeare was a playwright, his work was meant to be seen and acted out, not read. But that’s assigned reading, what happens when you’re reading for fun?

Reading Books: The Struggle

Reading for fun shouldn't be a struggle, but sometimes, even the best books have their moments. I have occasionally come across books that I thought I would like, but when I got into reading them, I found it hard to sink into the character, the setting or the story. Those books aren’t a struggle to read because if I can’t get invested, I’m just going to set it aside and reach for another book.

But what about the books that I am invested in? What happens when the characters I love and I’m invested in get stuck in long scenarios that I don’t like, that I’m not supposed to like and I just want it over? I’ve had this experience twice recently and both with authors I absolutely adore. I loved both books, genuinely and I’ve re-read the first one at least three times, but the section I struggled to read the first time did not improve in any future readings. Not sure about the latest book, I haven’t had a chance to re-read it yet.

What Books?

The first book was BONE CROSSED, the fourth Mercedes Thompson book by Patricia Briggs. The book was great, advancing the storylines and deepening the relationship between Mercy and Adam. There were some seriously beautiful moments in the book and the writing was top-notch as always. So why would I possibly struggle with it? There’s a section where Mercy is taken prisoner and well, to be honest, those couple of chapters were just unpleasant to read for me and I had to force myself not skip through until that sequence ended.

In the more recent novel, FROSTBITTEN by Kelley Armstrong, we are once again joining narrator Elena and her mate Clay as they deal with a convoluted mystery in Alaska. The narration by Elena was intriguing; so much has changed in her life since our first journey with her in Bitten. Of course, this is the fourth Women of the Otherworld narrated by Elena and I love seeing inside her relationship with Clay and how it has matured. But there is a very long sequence where Elena faces the very real possibility of rape and it just seems to go on and on and on and on. It was a very real struggle to make it through that portion of the book, though there was an ultimate pay off later.

So Why the Struggle?

So both Armstrong and Briggs are top-notch writers and I am totally a fan. I pre-order all of their books sight unseen and I’ve yet to be disappointed, so why would I find it a struggle to read sections of those particular books? I think it was seeing these two really powerful women put into situations where there was just no escape, no matter what they did or how well they reacted, things kept going wrong – particularly for Elena. I was frustrated and worried for her and frankly, I did not want to see her abused in any way shape or form.

And to be fair – Elena and Mercy are both more than capable of looking after themselves. But I have no problems with Clay or Adam shredding what threatens them.

I’d recommend these authors and these books in a heartbeat. Because the characters are wonderfully rich and textured and I struggled with those parts because I was so invested in those characters.

Have you ever struggled to finish a book?

A lifelong writer turned author, Heather Long's first book Remembering Ashby is available for purchase at Sapphire Blue Publishing. Coming soon is the urban fantasy: Prime Evil. The Daily Dose explores books, television, writing and more -- all topics that Heather enjoys.




6 comments posted.

Re: Daily Dose | Do You Struggle to Finish Books?

Heather Long: Thank you for your article. I know only too well what you've talking about.

Usually I can spot early on whether I want to finish a book. The first chapter, at most two, should be enough. How much of a fish do you have to eat to tell whether it's rotten?

If I'm deep into a novel and run into a problem, it depends on how big a problem it is.

If, say, a lead character I've emotionally invested in turns into or is revealed to be someone I can't stand, often because he/she does something I abhor, I'm through with that book. There's no point in reading more because there would be no payoff for me. And I certainly would not be interested in finding out what happens next to that character.

What if the author goes wrong in a small way? E.g., an obviously contrived fight scene results from a misunderstanding and could have been cleared up in a few lines.

I figure the editor told the author to add the scene so there would be more conflict between the characters and drama in the story, even if it's clearly artificial and therefore ineffective. Or the novel had to be longer to meet the required word count. I just shrug it off, hope that doesn't happen again, and keep on reading.
(Mary Anne Landers 8:01pm November 2, 2009)

I've definately read a book where I had to struggle to finish it. I think it was the authors writing of a certain section also that turned me off. I can't remember which book it was I struggled with so, it was fairly recent, but I have memory problems and a few books away and all I can remember is if I liked a book or not, not the specifics, blame it on age, medication and a bout with meningitis.
Any or all. So, yes, I really do try to finish the books, they are fairly pricey, and I hate to put the book down and not finish, if it is an author I usually like. Like you I will try to get past the struggling part and get through to the ending. I have only once or twice put a book down and absolutely not finished it.

Have a great day!

dancealert at aol dot com
(Brenda Rupp 3:02pm November 3, 2009)

When I reach a passage where I want to put the book down - for whatever reason - I skip to the end. If I like the ending, I will endure the passage. If I am not happy with the ending, the book goes to the bottom of my to read pile. Maybe another day I will be in the right frams of mind for it!
(Karin Tillotson 3:06pm November 3, 2009)

Charlene Harris's "Dead and
Gone" was one that I struggled
a little to finish. In general
the storyline did not advance
much and the continuity errors
were very jarring. I have
loved and laughed out loud
while reading the rest of the
series and was so disappointed
after waiting so long for a
new Sookie book( I actually
had and read the first 8 books
back to back).It felt as
though this book had been
rushed and not edited very
well. Even though it had been
about 6 months since I had
finished the earlier books I
noticed error after error in
the continuity. Usually if it
has been awhile since I read
the last book I am less likely
to notice these errors, but
these were big ones and they
made me stop and question
myself. Now I love Sookie
enough to give the next book a
chance but this next one holds
Sookie's life in its hand.
(Lisa Richards 9:11am November 4, 2009)

I don't mind reading long-winded, explanatory passages as long as they serve a purpose. Often I actually need to see inside characters' minds to see why they act or react the way they do in a story.

Actually I'm really glad that I found this blog entry: I was unaware that there was another story about Elena and Clay. I went to one of her book signings about 2 years ago and at that time she was doubtful whether there would be another story about them. Thanks for the heads up.
(Sigrun Schulz 1:39am November 5, 2009)

I love to read the 'series' type of murder mysteries. I have so many favorites that thre isn't enough room here to list all of those authors. But I have just started reading the " Donna Rose" murder mysteries by Norma Tadlock Johnson. The first book " Donna Rose and the Slgu War" started out to be so good that I couldn't put it down. " Donna Rose" being my age, was kind of a "grumpy old wo(man)" but I did start to love her character But then towards the end of the book I got the feeling this author was getting tired of writing this story and then just ruhed the ending to a close.
Another series of mysteries by Robin Hathaway, the Jo Banks series is the same way. Her first book " Scarecrow" started out so good but then the story ending seemed to be rushed, to me anyway.I am starting to read the next book in this series " satan's Pony" and I do hope the ending isn't going to be rushed. I love to read stories from my age group, written by authors my age. But some of these authors seem to rush the endings too much. Maybe, like me these authors feel the need to rush with the hopes that they will live long enough to finish the book!!!!!????????
(Linda Cooper 2:02pm January 21, 2010)

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