On putting down a book

For the past few weeks I’ve been struggling with one of the books I’m currently reading, specifically Amy Tan’s Saving Fish From Drowning. I did desperately want to like it (the premise of the book intrigued me right off the bat) but now I’m having difficulty trying to wade through it, so this morning when I again put it down, I decided to move on to other books.

I’ve only done this with one other book (Jostein Gaarder’s Maya) and I honestly thought that it wouldn’t happen again anytime soon (I’d only started really getting back into reading this year!) but it did. I feel a certain kind of sadness at the thought of finally setting aside a book as “unreadable” on a personal level, since you’re pretty much giving up on the book.

Personally, I put down a book for good when it’s the middle of the book already and I can’t connect with the characters, and when I’ve started to feel that the sole reason why I’m still reading is that I must finish it since it’s started already. I’ve gone through lots of books with parts that I always find hard to go through (be it because it’s long and dragging, or because it’s emotionally draining) but when this is typical of a whole half of the book… I should be spending my time better.

Saving Fish From Drowning basically was both for me. It had its moments, but on the whole I felt that it moved all over the place at an inconsistent pace. I couldn’t connect to any of the characters (except maybe Bibi herself and Esme) and there was almost nothing happening. There’s a certain sense of voyeurism in following everything (and I mean everything) about a group of people as they trek through their itinerary but it soon felt like a blog that was far too meandering. :P

Should I give Saving Fish From Drowning a second chance? Why? What would make you put down a book you’ve started?


  • @Vega: You’re right — finding reasons to read a book does sound like one is pretty much wasting their time! I just feel a sense of sadness, really, because I did want to read and like Saving Fish From Drowning. It sounded good and intriguing. But it turned out to be a haphazard collection of otherworldly thoughts and whatnot (IMO). I’m still wondering if there’s anyone else who’s going to persuade me otherwise (I also asked at booklisters!).

    @Tina: I usually can’t read chicklit XD I don’t know, I just usually find it a bit too trite, although I do sometimes pick one up (well, just borrowed from friends) when I want some rather fluffy reading. Maybe it’s just the choices I’ve found? :P

    And, I love what you said — about books always being there for you. That’s totally true. Maybe when I’m older Maya and Saving Fish From Drowning will find their way back on my bookshelf. :D

  • I think I did that with two books already — one with a chicklit (I forgot the title, haha) and The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. I just didn’t feel like reading them. :( It’s sad because it felt like I was rejecting a friend, but it didn’t mean I may not read them sometime in the future. Maybe one of these days I’ll pick it up again and read it and actually enjoy it this time. I think it’s also with the maturity of the reader. Not that you’re immature or I am or anyone who put a book down is. Like what you said, you can’t connect. Maybe now you can’t connect, but maybe after a few months or a year or something, you’d finally connect. =)

    That’s the beauty of books — they’ll always be there for you, waiting for them to be picked up and read. :D

  • I haven’t read Amy Tan, but a couple months back I abandoned a book too (Polar City Blues by Katharine Kerr). I’ve reviewed the reasons why; essentially, I was struggling to find a reason to keep reading it, but the novel kept dashing or failing them. And when I ran out of reasons, I stopped, despite having reached the penultimate chapter. If I have to actually search for excuses to keep reading a book, instead of it giving me reasons to read it, I don’t think it’s worth reading! Which was what happened with Polar City Blues.

    However, I think I’ve been spoilt with reading good books for so long, that I now have a low pain threshold when it comes to less good ones. *heh*