Choosing the Right One!

(A modified version of this post has been published in The Hindu Open Page. You can read it here)

I’m not sure if it has anything to do with my OCD, but I can never leave a book half-way and go on to read a new book. It’s not possible to judge a book by its first few pages, so I proceed with the hope that it would get better. What if the story had a good twist, and what If I missed it? Sometimes it gets better, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a risk that I know I have to take. And a good book, makes it worth the risk.

A friend of mine, who is also a voracious reader, sets a book aside the moment she loses interest. Even if it’s within the first 20 pages. When I happened to talk with her about this habit of ours, we realized that both of us were at two extremes. We joked about how each one should have a threshold. She said that the threshold should be slightly higher for her (so that she doesn’t miss a book that might get better with the story) and slightly lower for me (so that I wouldn’t have to waste my time reading not-so-good books), considering our reading habits. Fair enough! 

Fortunately for me, I’ve never regretted reading any book. Thanks to blurbs, they help me decide whether it is the kind of book that I normally read. But there is more to a book that what It says so in the blurbs. It can be better or worse. You never know that till you finish the book. Yes, there have been instances when the plot would’ve been weak, or a cocktail of two of more old plots, unnecessary deviations, characters and what not. But I wouldn’t go to the extent of calling them bad. As long as there is at least one person who likes the book, I feel it can never be bad. It’s just that we might not have liked it. 

So, when someone who wanted to start reading (it’s never late, you know!) asked me how I could find out if a book was good enough, I couldn’t give a convincing answer. What might be good for me, might not necessarily be good for others. Since I come from a family of voracious readers, my sister and father helped me initially by picking out books for me and recommending their favourites. Gradually I could read blurbs and find out, to an extent, if I would enjoy reading. Now I know what people mean when they say some things can be learnt only from experience.

There are many aspects which have to be considered before one comes to a conclusion about the book. For me it’s the story and then the writing style and of course the characters. 

So what do you look for in a book? And at what point do you decide if a book is worth the entire journey? Do share your thoughts!

 Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

41 thoughts on “Choosing the Right One!

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  1. This is something I have pondered on for a long time now! When I step into a bookstore, how am I supposed to decide on the “gripping” brief alone to know whether the book is good? Should I read the first chapter? Or two? Will that tell me about the book? Will the reviews tell me how “smashing” the book is!? It seems to be an endless struggle!

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  2. Reviews on Amazon.com and the average Rating. I spend a lot of time reading reviews to get an idea about the book. Then comes the name of the author. Then comes recommendations from others. But my issue is, at any point, since there are too many great books to read there is not much time to experiment!

    Destination Infinity

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  3. It depends upon what are your interests. I would read any book and finish which deals with war, military, politics or espionage.

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  4. Hello greetings and good wishes.

    Very interesting thoughts about reading a book. I belong to another category of reading books. I read the first few chapters and the last few chapters of most books and feel happy that I have read the whole book. True I don't read the whole book unless the book grips my attention right from the beginning, page after page.

    I agree it is not possible to form a true and fair opinion about a book unless the book is read from first page to last page. For this one has to have tremendous patience.

    Best wishses

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  5. A connection. That's the only thing that I look into a book. sometimes I don't sit ideally unless I have read a book from cover to cover, and at other times I would read a few pages and get the feeling that that's not the stuff I wanna read..
    Now that you mentioned, it got me thinking…..what's my threshold…? I guess I should start giving it some serious consideration. 🙂

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  6. I dont got by reviews, because each of us have a different expectations and different definitions of what is good and bad. I hate to say it,but it will come with experience! 🙂

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  7. Greetings! Welcome to my blog 🙂

    Patience is the key. I've fallen for the trap of reading nice blurbs and seeing good cover pictures only to be deceived by the plot. I've also read some wonderful stories with not-so-impressive titles either. So the opinion can come only after reading the entire book.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  8. How true! We like a book better, if we are able to relate to it. Now I know why my favorite books are my favorites 🙂

    Hehe, that can be really tricky you know 🙂 Good luck with the threshold!

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  9. I believe in giving a book a very good chance – and don't often stop reading one. But if I'm still not liking it when I'm about half-way, I might leave it aside. AFter all, life is too short and there are too many good books out there!

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  10. I prefer to read the blurbs over reviews before I pick the book. And I enjoy reading thrillers. I take my own time to finish a book but no, I dont usually stop in half way unless otherwise the story or the narration tires me off completely. 🙂
    A Rat's Nibble

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  11. In my younger days, I used to read a lot of books and enjoyed reading them. I was hooked on M&B, thrillers and all kinds of books, that was supposed to be very good during those times.
    Now I can't stand reading books, I find them boring after reading just a few pages. I have stopped reading even book reviews, oh, they are so so very boring.
    Somehow very few books are gripping enough to hold one's attention these days.
    I must have changed or the writers these days hardly write books worth reading.
    Happy reading to those who love reading!

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  12. Earlier, I never let a book go midway but I think my tolerance level has become low. I read Gone Girl until the reveal and then I just skimmed the last few pages and forgot about it! 😀 That's a record for me!!

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  13. Very very true. There are good books today, but the number has gone down drastically. Ever since people started looking at commercial aspects, I guess the original charm of a book is lost. I'm not sure if the term 'bad book' was even used those days!

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  14. Earlier I was just like this. But these days, I don't have so much patience. Have you by any chance read any anthologies by bloggers? No offense meant to anyone but I could not read a single one from first page to last. Yes, these days, I return the book if it does not work for me.

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  15. I am in your zone, i can't just leave anything midway (let alone reading a book).

    I guess it is a personal preference as to what the threshold should be, but then one can do skimming if you just have to get rid of it fast…but then you might miss out on the twist.

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  16. I am off reading from a year. I was like you but I think I have changed, I can switch between books and put it away if I am not liking it. There is nothing particular I look in a book, something or the other has to click.

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  17. Sometimes I feel guilty about the many books that are waited to be read in my shelf, when I'm turning the pages with difficulty. I guess beyond a point if it is not worth it, we shouldnt think twice before putting them down.

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  18. Exactly my thoughts Alok!

    After reading your comment, I realized this was true for me in many aspects and not just for books. Yes, every one is different and has different preferences so the threshold will definitely vary.

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  19. That is really a talent, Saru, to switch between books :-). I think I am going to take into consideration the words of all those who've commented here and try putting books down if it doesnt go that well with me.

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  20. I on the other hand rely on people's (who I know like similar things) opinions/suggestions much more when choosing the next book… But ya I have given up my fare share of books without Completion. But that usually happens after the half way mark.. Not too early in a book

    P. S. Great to see you are still writing 😊

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