When to fold?

To fold is to discard one’s hand and forfeit interest in the current pot. …..Wikipedia

princess.jpg    black-swan-green.jpg    holding.jpg

These are the three books I’ve folded on in the last few weeks.  Black Swan Green by David Mitchell was probably the worst of the three.  The first chapter was actually pretty intriguing. Some kid is skating on a pond and he sees a ghost that freaks him out and makes him fall and hurt his ankle.  He then goes looking for help at a creepy house near the pond. A creepy lady opens the door and brings him inside to nurse his ankle. He wakes up to realize she has trapped him in the house and he can’t get out.  Sounds good right?  Yeah, I thought so to, but then the second chapter had NOTHING to do with the first, so now I’m all confused and frustrated, so I skim through the third chapter hoping to figure out what the hell is going on and still nothing is making sense so then I close the book and never open it up again.  Back to the library for you buddy.  Sayonara, Adios, AufWeiderschauen, Goodbye!  I’m tempted to hide a post it note warning on the first page that says STOP!  Don’t  Read!  This Book Sucks! The first chapter is a LIE!  But I have to restrain myself since I’ve been on thin ice with the librarians ever since my 2 year old had an “accident” on the carpet.   Oops.   Actually, I know someone will probably read this and tell me I should have stuck it out, everything would have eventually made sense, it’s an excellent story, best book they ever read, yada, yada, yada…..the thing is it’s hard to be patient when I have The Thirteenth Tale, the Shadow of the Wind, and The Book Thief all staring at me from my nightstand.  So I folded, can you blame me?  The other two books that got thrown back were The Constant Princess by Phillippa Gregory which I just wasn’t in the mood for, and The Holding by Merilyn Simonds which was just plain dreary.    There was a time when I used to feel bad about doing this, but that was long ago and any avid reader will tell you there are two many good books out there to waste your time on the ones that don’t interest you.  My most famous rejection was Atonement by Ian McEwan.  I remember I was so excited about it that I actually purchased a hardcover (I almost never do).  I was smitten with the cover art and back page review.  I cleared some time off the calendar after lunch, found a good restaurant with a nice quiet table and started to read.  Three chapters later I threw the book across the room.  Then I picked it up, dusted it off, and promptly returned it to Borders for a full refund.  Now many people have told me I should have stuck it out, and they are probably right, but to this day I don’t regret it.   My question for all of you is…When do you decide to fold?  Do you have a three chapter rule or certain page limit?  What books have you folded on lately?  Whats your most famous rejection?  Are there any that people are STILL urging you to finish reading?  Are there any that you rejected only to pick up later and love?  I wanna know! I need to know!


13 Responses to “When to fold?”

  1. I am going to comment on your books that you folded on first. 🙂 I have never read David Mitchel, but I am told I should. I am surprised that you did not like that book. Then, Philippa Gregory. Me and her have a love/hate relationship. Lately, it has been mostly hate. The only book by her that I think is worth owning is The Other Boelyn Girl. I am hearing mixed reviews on her new novel, so I haven’t decided if I will read it or not. And, I am glad you agree with me on The Holding sucking. Now, I am the most in need of saying something about Atonement. I liked that book enough to read more from him, but Amsterdam was HORRIBLE. I could not handle that book. I haven’t read Saturday, yet, or any of his older books.

    And, I read books and stop every so often. I am not scared of it, my friends think that I do it too often. But, the way I see it, life is too short to waste on a bad book! But there have been times I started something, put it to the side, and then ended up loving it. I just can’t think of a specific example right now.

  2. Kailiana – I looked back at the Amazon.com reviews for Black Swan Green and they of course are all GLOWING. I just couldn’t get into it.

    I Loved The Other Boelyn Girl but have not read anything else by the author. In The Constant Princess, I did not like the “voice” of the narrator, so I ditched it.

    I’m glad you didn’t like The Holding either, at least I know it wasn’t just me.

  3. I fold when I it starts to effect all of my reading. For example, if book X starts to make reading a chore and I start watchin reality t.v. marathons instead of reading I drop the book A.S.A.P. I have no guilt. Life is too short and there are far too many books to read to be concerned about just one.

  4. I read (and finished) the first book in the No. 1 ladies detective agency series. It sucked big time, but I felt obligated to read it because my girlfrined mailed it from another state (with glowing reviews). Anyway, ditch it and read The Thirteenth Tale now so you can discuss it on my book blog in November!

    By the way, there is a way to adjust the size of your photos (i.e. book cover images) in WordPress. Once you have the image in your post, make sure it is highlighted, then click on the little tree button (close to the link button on the posting toolbar). From there you can manually (using numbers) adjust the size. WordPress is funky sometimes, so if that doesn’t work you could always take your mouse to corner of the image and try to drag it larger. Just in case you were interested.

  5. My husband and I both tried Black Swan Green and gave up. I couldn’t get into the foreign slang, but the book just had a strange feel to it in spite of that. I can’t recommend The Book Thief highly enough. It has to be one of the best books I’ve ever laid eyes on. It did take several pages to get into, but it certainly wasn’t a struggle. Now… I absolutely loved Atonement, but it took well over 50 pages before I was hooked. So… hard to say when to ditch a book. I knew right away with Black Swan Green. I just try to trust my gut and give a book at least 50 pages before making a decision one way or another. Having said that, Small Island took over 200 pages before I changed my mind and it wound up being a great read. Go figure! One thing I never do is go back and try again after ditching a book. Life is too short.

  6. I quite enjoyed the Other Boleyn Girl… the Constant Princess is also good…. it just takes some warming up ( like Dickens, sometimes you need to get through the first fifty or so pages, eh ?) , The Book Thief is, I think, redefining the world of YA fiction at the moment…. the prose is fresh and dark and it encapsulates (simultaneously) so much light and sorrow. The Thirteenth Tale, I think, does not quite live up to the expectations of its hype but it was still an enjoyable rainy-day mystery…worth reading for a couple of wonderful “moments”; like so many books, fleeting but still distinctive, these moments.

    I hated the Holding and I know many people who sent Atonement to a similar doom.

    Hopefully the next batch that inspires you will keep you more captivated.

  7. I usually fold when I decide I really don’t care what happens in the plot and/or to the characters or if I haven’t picked the book up in days. I really enjoyed The Constant Princess (but then, I’m a history buff). Sometimes, though, you have to be in the right mood to read a certain type of book. If the timing isn’t right, then it won’t work for you. Hope you are able to find something you enjoy soon!

  8. Steph – Thanks for the advice. I will be emailing you with more questions!?! I’m saving the Thirteenth tale for a trip to Boston next week.

    Les – I’m glad you mentioned something about the slang in Black Swan Green. I didn’t care for it either, I found the dialect really distracting.

    Melrose and Libris – I had a feeling The Constant Princess would probably get really interesting but I wasn’t feeling it at the time. I still want to read alot of other things by the writer!

  9. As for finding something good to read…on a whim yesterday, I grabbed Twilight by Stephanie Meyer and OH MY GOD I am totally hooked! Seriously, the book comes everywhere with me until I’m finished.

  10. Hard to say. If I find I don’t want to pick it up, I drop it. If it feels like it might take a little work first, I’ll try a little longer. But I’m not one to hold on for very long if it looks like a dull book. Life’s too short and there are too many books.

    And I am SO thrilled to hear you are hooked on Twilight. I love Stephenie Meyer!! I am going to reread it soon so I can read New Moon!

  11. Hi. I usually try to read at least three chapters before I decide to fold. Some I end up going back to later on and am happy I did. I am into chapter 4 of Towelhead and think I may fold on this one. It’s pretty good but the sexuality is a bit much. Almost annoying.

  12. There are variety of reasons for me to fold, now that I think of it. First off, I’ll fold and toss the book aside with great force if it’s what I call “pedestrian,” or so run of the mill, boring, trite and/or badly written I’d rather scratch out my own eyes than read it! Second, I’ll fold if I’m really just not in the mood for that particular book at that particular time, even if I think I will want to read it some other time. Finally, sometimes I fold without any reason at all, or just because life (or other reads) gets in the way.

    I seldom feel guilt anymore about folding, but I do sometimes make a mental note to consider trying certain books again. I guess that sums up my philosophy.

  13. Jeannine – I totally agree with you on Towelhead. I don’t mind sexual content in a book, but when the girl is 13 years old, its a little gross.

    Lisa – I fold for alot of the same reasons you do, and without guilt as well.

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