Problem is a lot of it is dreck.
Some books draw out a story for 1100 pages then stuff all the cool stuff in the last 200 pages. It feels dishonest.
A lot of classics aren't.
A lot of pulp is captivating and fast paced.
I tried reading infinite jest - I had to return it.
I finished fear an loathing in las vegas in a day.
It's a crap shoot.
Cut your losses early - your total reading throughput will be much higher, and most nonfiction books aren’t worth reading all the way to the end anyway.
However once it happened that I changed my mind and continued the book because I found a part of the summary interesting. Usually I take care not to read a lot about a book before starting, because it would be a pity if I learnt about an explanation before figuring it out by myself. So it is a real switch for me, and then I read Wikipedia slowly, ready to stop midsentence if I want to resume the book.
Now I only play one game at a time and I really try to finish it unless it straight up is just not fun for me. I’ve slogged through parts of games where I’ve become bored after X number of hours and ultimately been much happier for it as I witnessed everything the game had to offer (especially with regards to story). Final Fantasy XV comes to mind here. The gameplay had become tired after 30 hours or whatever but getting the whole story arc (for all its flaws) was extremely worth it.
I’ve carried this over to books. Unless I’m really not interested I will stick with the slow parts and generally I’ve been happy with the results. The Stand by Stephen King comes to mind here. It’s like 1,200 pages of tiny font and is pretty slow in the middle but has some stupendous moments and is really an epic tale I’m happy to have under my belt. I do have to pair this with a conscious “required” reading time, e.g. an hour before bed so that I’m always hitting a minimum rate so I don’t slow to a snails-pace and read a book a quarter or something.
Personally I'm reading or playing a video game because of the entertainment it provides. If it's not interesting or doesn't hold my attention, it's not worth slogging through it. Life's too short.
That's one big plus of digital entertainment: I can refund what I don't like in a single click, I don't feel like I _have_ to finish it nor I have to justify my reasons to anybody.
Though I have to admit I've bought for the second time some video games or books I had previously refunded, because I finally understood what's the correct mindset to have to enjoy them fully.
Over the years I’ve met a few others who I trust to recommend books. But most people, even professional reviewers, just don’t work for me.
That said, I’ve only read a handful of books that I’ve finished and thought, “I wish I hadn’t read that.” I can usually get something out of it, whether it’s a classic, pulp, overrated, whatever. It took me many attempts to make it through Dune by Frank Herbert. Part of it I attribute to being a child for my first attempts, but part of it is the style. It’s dry, slow, and political. It’s now one my short list of favorite books. On the other hand, William Gibson’s Neuromancer has gotten about as many attempts from me, but that one I’ve never finished.
Interestingly (to me anyway), I generally find the books recommended by random HN posters worthy reads, both fiction and non-fiction.
The latter two are conceptually related. If you know about metric signatures, you'll be able to tell how. If not, well, you will.
Can't quite put my finger on it; but I think it is that his style changed to what I'd call hyper-realism: He would go on taking 3 pages to describe a room. Seriously, for me the book unbearable boring.
But I still like them well enough.
In my opinion, it works best to just write series. You can just use mostly the same characters. Matthew Stover did that well with the Caine series. I gather that he'd been working on it for at least a few years, and had been told that it was unpublishable. So he cut out a first book, and focused on action. Then another, when it sold well enough. And then, years later, after his Star Wars gig, he published the last two. They're basically a metaplot, and collection of back stories, that probably look a lot like the initial project.
“Sometimes civilizations decide to Sublime! Other folks take their stuff. One ship takes it upon itself to help a younger race not get boxed out of the spoils, fails, and gets depressed. The end”
Most of his other Culture books had more stuff going combined with characters I cared about.
Plus following the thread of an author you like gives you easily 3-10 books of them, and 10-20 books of similar style you know you enjoy of those who inspired them/succeeded them.
It's hardly a "crap shot", except if you buy random books...
As a result, for certain topics I can never bring myself to actually start reading. I have several books that have been on my shelf in this state for years now.
Agree with the cut your losses strategy.
I use screen readers now for immersive reading, specifically Voice Dream Reader (iOS|Android) and Kurzweil 3000 (Windows|Mac|Web). I finally got in to reading habitually after reading some history books. It can still be physically painful for me to read, but it is worthwhile.
Aye, my mother regularly took us to the biggest public library within driving distance. Every few weeks. And we didn't just grab and go, we would spend some time browsing the stacks.
As her mother did before her. It was inexpensive entertainment for those that weren't well off.
I developed very wide interests in everything imaginable, just from stumbling upon really good books.
Mind you though, I didn't develop an appreciation for fiction for a long time. To some, "readers" are those who are always reading fiction.
It's literally free entertainment for children that lets them effectively supervise themselves, and god knows as a parent one can use entertainment for young children.
Plus its an actual constructive skill.
We live in the time with the most access to the most information available and almost no one wants it. I'm constantly blown away that the default position isn't: "Why isn't the human race just constantly reading?".
I have very fond memories of spending time at the library growing up. My mom is an avid reader. I just never picked it up. I remember as a kid thumbing through mostly reference books to imagine up projects I didn't have the money or resources to carry out. Maybe I just never got into fiction and reference books were only as-needed?
I prefer fiction, generally hard science fiction and high fantasy (less so the latter), but occasionally if I come across a truly exceptional historical fiction book I'll and that to my TBR list as well (Shogun, Silence, and Pillars of the Earth, for example). I also prefer longer books, since if I'm sitting down to read something I really want a lot of detail and meat there. Even irrelevant details are welcomed, I almost just enjoy the act of reading. When it comes to selecting books, I value some kind of novelty of uniqueness above almost anything else, but it also has to have a sense of craftsmanship.
I must confess I'm addicted to buying physical books, as well. I have quite a few books on Kindle, and do read them, but whenever feasible (and it isn't always) I prefer to buy books from Amazon. Specifically, Mass Market Paperbacks, which I find to be the perfect form factor (and cheaper than Kindle books, too).
I love the Japanese word Tsundoku. So perfect!
What is certain is your passive-aggressive shot at another users reading choices that doesn’t contribute much value.
... from https://github.com/globalcitizen/taoup
Then I entered "higher education" which involves a large amount of "required reading." Although I was able to complete the "required reading" and coursework, I no longer enjoyed reading the way I had before. Reading had become an unpleasant chore.
Now I seem to lack the motivation and attention span for "recreational" reading and when I try it I just don't enjoy it. Reading non-fiction for interest is a bit better, but it still feels too much like drudgery to be enjoyable.
But then I stopped. The most I did during that decade was read Wikipedia entries or cliff notes. But one day I stumbled upon the alchemist. The book came to me at a moment I truly needed it, and it offered me some answers. Little after I read another fiction, Life of Pi. These are simple books with profound messages that can easily lure you back into reading. I ended reading more than 20 books that year.
Today, I can't imagine myself not reading. Books are where smart people take their time to clearly and precisely formulate their ideas. And the great advantage is that when you forget what's in a book, you can read it again.
If you pick up a book, you arouse their curiosity to do the same. If you pick up a phone and launch an epub reader - not so much.
If your're reading fiction, then it is most likely just entertainment. So, its equivalent to watching a fiction movie or tv show, or whatnot.
I find it odd thats its encouraged and considered good to just read, regardless of content. What you're reading is critical.
You can read 'Harry Potter' and divert and entertain yourself, or read 'A Brief History of Time', and do the same, but also learn a bit.
Harry Potter is a bit of an unfair example as it's intended as a children's book, they still need to build up the skill.
But more importantly, good fiction (and other art) _teaches about the human condition_. I have learned a lot from Vonnegut and Pratchett even though everything I read by them was fiction.
(I haven't read it)
It's not the shelf of the bookshop on which you find it that tells you if you can learn something from it.
There would have to be a tectonic shift in understanding to get me interested in reading another book.
What if the tectonic shift is in a television show you'll never watch?
What if the tectonic shift is in a friend you'll never meet?
What if the tectonic shift is in a meditation you'll never do?
What if, what if, what if...
Maybe I misunderstood this. I thought you meant that you would need a mindset change before you would be willing to consider reading another book. In that case, suggesting that you may never get that shift without reading is a bit of irony (a Catch-22 if you will).
However, if you meant that you wouldn't read a book unless you knew there were some kind of major insight on it for you, then:
1) my statement probably did come off as trite to the point of deserving sarcasm, and
2) I feel bad that your mind is so closed to considering new opportunities.
My point is that opportunities are everywhere and never stop coming, and so one must invariably pick and choose where they'll look. It generally makes for a calmer life to not get too worked up over FOMO, because it's incredibly rare to miss out on anything really important in the grand scheme of one's life.
This meant I no longer felt motivated to read a book not on that list; after all, if I read a book from that list instead, I'd be killing two birds with one stone. Reading a book not on the list just seemed like a waste of time. Of course, I decided which books to read by randomly stumbling upon them, not by picking them from some list, so I was rarely motivated to read books that were on the list either. Not to mention that reading was now homework, where I'd need to think about how to write the report and which excerpts to use at all times.
The result was that I just stopped reading for the most part. It sucked all the fun out of it.
Is there some hidden irony in the pointlessness of this paragraph?
I found it cute. :)
It is so important to me to keep reading and keep improving.
I was later (as an adult) diagnosed with ADHD.
Audiobooks work much better for me, as I can do other things at the same time, but I still get the information passively.
At least not a non-technical, fictional one. At school I'd just dig up a summary. Didn't stop me from getting a job at a FANG.
Whenever I read, I feel like I'm wasting my time. It's slow, boring and feels superficial. Just something arbitrary someone wrote. I can't focus and get no value from it.
>Didn't stop me from getting a job at a FANG.
probably stopping you from being a top developer at a FAANG
Human creativity is unleashed in fiction, where anything is possible, yet still bound by its humanity. That it didn't happen makes it no less human, and possibly more human in that it is completely driven by emotion and pure thought.
Just look at _From the Earth to the Moon_. Long before we knew we could make it to the Moon, we yearned for it. And I think it was that yearning that led us there.