Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

How many pages do you give a book?

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Tonight, my husband turned to me as we were reading and asked, "How many pages do you give a book before you give up?"

Good question. I wish I had a set number. Why DON'T I have a set number? I've read many books for far too many pages only to stop reading 3/4 of the way through, wishing i'd just stopped and moved on weeks earlier, when i was still in the opening pages.

My husband was at page 50 of the book he was reading. It was an award winner, and he'd been looking forward to reading it. But he was bored by it.

I said I thought it depended how long the book was. Fifty pages for say, a literary 400+ book, but maybe only 25 for something shorter? He was concerned 50 pages wasn't enough of a chance, but COME ON. Really? Fifty pages, at about 250 words per page, is 5,000 words. Surely an author can cause something captivating to happen in 5,000 words. Can't he???

In any case, I like the idea of a set number. A rule. An out. But I don't think we should call it "giving up". I'll give credit to my ex-husband here, who, when we divorced said, I don't think we should consider it a failed marriage after 7 years. I think we should consider it a success at being married for 7 years. I agree. "Giving up" on a book suggests that you failed as a reader. But you didn't. You simply adhered to a guideline. You succeeded at giving the book its fair chance for 50 pages. And now you're not going to give it any more time. If you want to talk failure, the book failed. The author failed to captivated a reader. But I don't think the reader can fail. And I say that, taking full responsibility as an author, to make sure I do my best to keep readers interested.

How many pages do you give a book? Do you ever suffer readers' remorse when you stop reading a book and then wish you'd read it through to the end?

How do you feel about books that win awards but that you find slow to read? Can you think of a book that was ultimately well done but could've been better had the book been more tightly edited? Or would doing so change the overall feel of the book and thus, potentially not make it an award-winner or as memorable a book?

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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