How long do you hang in with a book? by Camy Tang

I’m afraid I kind of offended a friend of mine because I didn’t finish a book I started. She was appalled. “How can you not finish a book?”

Me: “I don’t have time for books that bore me.”

She reacted as though I were going to burn my books rather than simply not finishing them.

I admit, I used to ALWAYS finish my books. Even if I was bored to tears, I would slog through and finish it.

Then I hit 35. (That was almost a decade ago)

And my TBR pile hit 5000 books. No, that is not a typo. Granted, half of those are ebooks, and a huge majority of those ebooks I got for free, but STILL.

(On a side note, ebooks have been very bad for my TBR pile. I used to be limited by my shelf space, or rather, the amount of surface area in my house, but now with ebooks, I am unshackled.)

I realized my TBR pile exceeded what I would be able to read before I died. Yes, Book Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy (I borrowed that from knitter Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, who said something similar about yarn stashes).

How to be able to choose what books I’d read before I died and which I wouldn’t? I couldn’t. So then, whenever a book didn’t interest me, I stopped reading.

It was very hard at first. I have a slightly obsessive compulsive thing about finishing stuff once I start.

But then I would look once again at my TBR pile and I would step away from the book.

Some of you might be cringing in horror. I apologize. But I simply can’t keep reading a book that doesn’t interest me when I could move on to another book from my TBR pile that does.

How about you? How long do you hang in with a book? To the bitter end? Or do you give yourself 3 or 5 chapters before you’ll put it down?


About Camy Tang/Camille Elliot

Camy writes romantic suspense as Camy Tang and Regency romance as USA Today bestselling author Camille Elliot. She is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of the Sunday worship teams. Visit her websites at and to read free short stories and subscribe to her quarterly newsletter.
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19 Responses to How long do you hang in with a book? by Camy Tang

  1. Tracy Rodgers says:

    This one really resonates with me. I was about 38 when I decided that I had too many books waiting to be read to slog through something that had NO appeal to me – just to say that I had finished it! Like you I have SO many books waiting to be read. (And that doesn’t include books that I enjoyed so much that I want to read them again someday.) Now I will say that I try to make it at least 1/3 to 1/2 way before I give up. There have been several books that I ended up really loving that took that long to “get into”. But if I’m at least 1/2 way and find that I could care less – I put it down and go on to the next!


  2. Usually like you, about 3-5 chapters in I know that a book is not going to hold my interest so I give it up. It doesn’t happen too often, but yeah, life is too short to be stuck in something that I have no interest in.


  3. Maureen Lang says:

    I have a sister who never leaves a book unfinished, no matter how many times she rolls her eyes over content. Since she’s my older sister, I guess in our family age doesn’t have much to do with it.

    But for me? I give my printed and ebooks about 3 chapters, and if I’m not connecting with the characters (even if the plot does inspire a similar eye-roll from time to time) I’ll keep going. I have, however, learned something interesting about my habits when it comes to Audio books, which I’ve only just begun relying on in the last couple of years. I’ll give an audio book more time to draw me in, especially if the narrator is good. Perhaps as many as ten chapters. I’m not sure why this is the case, except that I’m able to multitask (such as listening in the car while I’m driving somewhere) so it doesn’t feel like I’m wasting my time. But even then, if the characters aren’t to my liking or the story isn’t working for me, I’ll still give it up after a third or so of the book. Even while using my time as wisely as I can, life is too short and there are too many other books to read to suffer through one that I’m not enjoying.

    Nice topic, Camy!


  4. I have read over 225 books already just this year. It is rare that I can’t get into a book and quit, and just say, no more. I give it a few chapters and if the book just doesn’t work, I stop. BUT having said that, I do no write a negative review on the book, I just chalk it up as “this book was not for me” and let it go. It angers me at the people who write a negative review just because they could not get into a story. I write reviews for all the books I read, unless I just have to say, this one isn’t my cup of tea. We aren’t going to like every book we read. What I roll my eyes at, the next person may just love. We are individuals and have different taste.


    • camytang says:

      Very true! I’ve found that a lot of books I love, other people haven’t liked, and other books most people like, I’m not terribly keen on. So even if I have to post a review, such as for Netgalley books, I do mention that it’s my own personal taste and someone else might not be bothered by what bugged me about that book.


  5. imabrassy1 says:

    I usually try to read all my books But I do get bogged down and if it doesn’t come round in a chapter or two I usually bail. I am on a personal reading goal of 205 books this year. I got to 200 last year. I usually give a book at least halfway but sometimes I bail at 5-6 chapters. I have stayed with a few and was rewarded for my diligence. I was given a book by a publishing company/author and was supposed to review it. I bogged down and it is still sitting on my headboard with the place marked. Needless to say I didn’t review that book. I hate to give a bad review on a book so I usually don’t review that book. I try to find the best part of a book when I review one but I don’t want to give away the whole book so I say things like it grabbed me from the first paragraph or She did it again, what a great book. I would just rather get the book and read it for myself not have someone tell me what happens.


  6. Kelli Albert says:

    I have way too many in my TBR pile, both on my shelf and my e-reader. I typically grab any newer books by my favorite authors to read as they come out, then go back to the others. I choose based upon what mood I am in and skip the ones that don’t look as interesting. I guess I don’t even start the ones I am least likely to enjoy. I have very few that I started reading and didn’t finish. They still bother me. Lol. I understand the OCD thing,


  7. Mikal says:

    I’ll admit that I’m one of those who *has* to read a book until it’s finished, regardless of how I feel about it. I’m a firm believer that every book is someone’s favorite book, therefore I should read every book I pick up. Buuuuuut…my TBR pile is huuuuuuuge, and I’m getting too old to be so patient. LOL! I’m thinking of setting down the book I started last night and going to a new book. And it’s by an author I normally like. (It’s not you, though! Promise! LOL!!!) But you gave me courage. 🙂 I’m gonna do it.


  8. I don’t even make it 3-5 chapters. Sometimes I will skim the rest or speed read but if I don’t like it, I am not going to finish it. Like you, I have too many other books to read and don’t want to miss out on something compelling and beautiful simply by being diligent. I also will not a read a book I know I am not going to like due to subject matter or genre no matter how great the recommendation. I read to be informed and entertained. And there are some things I do not need more info about nor do I find entertaining.


    • camytang says:

      Me, too, there are some books I won’t read, but they’re not in my TBR pile anymore because a few years ago I went through and culled all the books I wasn’t going to ever read. I got rid of boxes of books! They were mostly genres I don’t enjoy, but I got the book for free or on sale or because other people recommended them.


  9. Naomi Shores says:

    If it doesn’t “capture” me within the first couple of chapters, I’m done. I did just “slog” through Dee Henderson’s “Undetected” because she is one of my favorite authors and I kept hoping that the intrigue/suspense would show up but it never did. 😦


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