August 24, 2012
Book Club: Where's The Point Where You Stop Reading?
The other day I talked about reading Denis Johnson's "Tree of Smoke" and about how I was going to stop reading this book. To my surprise I wasn't the only person there who has stopped reading a book before the end.
"Tree of Smoke" is a behemoth of a book (700 page paperback) that is about a Psy Ops CIA agents in Vietnam during the war. There are other characters as well who are all somehow connected to the Psy Ops. And the book's title is a reference to all their faith during the war.
To be fair to this book was crushed by my own expectations. I read about Psy Ops, CIA, Vietnam War and my radar went up. The book had my interest. I've always had a fascination with history, wars, and espionage. So I became exited to read this book.
300 pages in and I can't see what the actual plot is to this book? Now I fully admit I'm stupid and probably don't get the point of this book, but after 300 pages you'd think I would get the point by now. The book halfway through to me is just rambling nonsense.
Do I stop reading "Tree of Smoke" though? I'm halfway through a book I don't like but I'm torn if I should quit reading this book. Maybe I'll understand the grand point of this book if I continue reading? Maybe the book still has interesting sections that I haven't covered yet?
Where is the point though when you stop reading a book though? For me with "Tree of Smoke" the point where I had to just take a break from reading it was around page 350 when I became frustrated with what I perceived to be a lack of a plot.
What's your breaking point though? Do you stop reading when you can't find the point of a novel? Do you stop when you become frustrated with the language? (Faulkner or McCarthy books can be frustrating reads because of the language.) Have you read a book that you just didn't like and stopped reading it? Also what books did you stop reading and why?