Quote of the Week: Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl

“I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.”
~ Roald Dahl

Friday I published a review of The Sun Also Rises in the post The Importance of Being Ernest Hemingway. I finished the book even though I didn’t enjoy it. I read every last word.

Why would I finish a book if I didn’t really care for it? Because I know how much work is involved in the process. It’s a labor of love.  It is out of respect for that great achievement and the courage it takes to put yourself out there that I felt compelled to finish it.

So what about you? Do you read a book you don’t like to the end or toss it once you get bored with it? Post your answer in the poll below.

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18 thoughts on “Quote of the Week: Roald Dahl”

  1. I find that now my reading time is precious. I am not a speed reader and for me to devote time to something I don’t like regardless of how much time the author spent in writing it is not worth it. I already paid for his or her book. I think this idea that to review a book you have to finish it is silly because it puts all blame on the reader and absolves the writer of any wrong doing. If the writer didn’t make the book interesting enough to finish then he or she needs to be given that information so they can work on it for their next book, that is if they don’t bite your head off. Just my 2 cents.

    1. I can see your point Bradley but I feel differently. I wouldn’t review a book I didn’t finish. Let me explain why. The beginning of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was so boring I wanted to gauge my eyes out. If I’d stopped there I would’ve given it 1 or 2 stars but I kept reading and was glad I did because it ended up being a really good book. I feel compelled to finish reading each of the books on the Modern Library list because 1) it’s one of my goals, 2) they’ve been praised by so many, and 3) I feel like I’d miss some important literary lesson if I didn’t complete them. After all, I’m just an aspiring author trying to learn what I can from the masters. And because of my experience with the Dragon Tattoo book, I’ll keep reading other books when I may want to toss them. That being said, I did recently stop reading a book by an indie author (it wasn’t written by any of my friends here so no worries).It was so full of grammatical errors and typos that it was apparent they had no respect for the craft of writing. I’m no grammar nazi. I don’t mind the occasional error but I lost count somewhere in the double digits. If you’re going to publish something and expect people to spend money and time on it then you should at least treat it with the same respect. Review it or have someone qualified review it. I didn’t feel bad tossing it because the author had no respect for the reader to publish something that wasn’t even given a second glance.

      1. See I would rate that a poor book. I do not care how amazing a book is in the second half if I don’t care enough to get there. I just don’t have the time to see if it will get good or not. I also will leave feedback to that extent. I couldn’t finish the book here is why and list it. I feel that to both other readers and writers that is important. Maybe if I was getting paid to do reviews I would finish the whole book or if I was given copies of the book to review but as it is, I am spending my own money and time. I don’t want to have to sit and wait for a book to get good and I really don’t want other people to suffer that same fate.

        Yeah I am scared to review Indie authors work for that reason, lol. But so far what I have read has been good as far as grammar goes.

        Here is the thing, if you are a writer and 90% of people don’t bother to finish your book even though it has an amazing second half… is it really worth it that the other 10% thought it was amazing? Wouldn’t you want to know why people didn’t finish it and what you could work on to be a better writer?

        1. I agree that the review should reflect the issues the reader had with the book and if the first part was slow the reviewer should state so. Constructive criticism can only help the writer. But to me, giving a review when you’ve only read half the book is equivalent to a teacher stopping after a student has missed the first 10 of a 50 question test. “I’ll just give him a 0 since he obviously doesn’t know his stuff.” I just don’t think it’s fair. If you’re going to give someone a grade on something which is what a review is for a writer, then I think you should complete the book. If a reviewer doesn’t finish a book and still chooses to post a review, I think he should at least disclose that fact so that other readers can put his review in the appropriate context to those that read the entire thing.

        2. I agree that the review should reflect the issues the reader had with the book and if the first part was slow the reviewer should state so. Constructive criticism can only help the writer. But to me, giving a review when you’ve only read half the book is equivalent to a teacher stopping after a student has missed the first 10 of a 50 question test. “I’ll just give him a 0 since he obviously doesn’t know his stuff.” I just don’t think it’s fair. If you’re going to give someone a grade on something which is what a review is for a writer, then I think you should complete the book. If a reviewer doesn’t finish a book and still chooses to post a review, I think he should at least disclose that fact so that other readers can put his review in the appropriate context to those that read the entire thing.

          1. But I am not giving the writer a grade for his benefit, I am giving my review mostly for other readers, the writer can benefit from it though.

            The important thing is for me to identify why I stopped reading it so other people who might think similar can be made aware they might not like it.

            It’s not quite the same as a school grade. Especially if it is something that people are going to read for entertainment. As a reviewer I am not being a beta reader.

    1. Sorry about that Charles. People have different tastes so don’t take it personally. Some of the most critically acclaimed books (like the one I just reviewed) are just okay in my opinion. I like broccoli AND peas, by the way 🙂

    1. Up until I decided to set a goal of reading the Modern Library Top 100, I never really came across a fiction book that I couldn’t finish. But I will read every book on that list because the work is so highly praised and it’s one of my goals. But I have stopped reading a few indie books that were full of errors. If the author didn’t put much effort into it then why should I?

  2. I like to think I will persist in reading a book to the end because that person put a lot of effort into writing it and it would be disrespectful if I didn’t. But sometimes, very rarely, I give up. I feel guilty but at least I tried!

  3. I give up when the grammar and formatting is so bad it distracts from the story (either a good story or a not so grand story). I will finish a book that has been polished even if I’m not personally wowed by it and try to leave a review that points out the things I did appreciate: strong characters, humor, whatnot. In my opinion, readers can and should be able to find something they appreciated about a well written book even if it wasn’t their cup of tea.

    1. I agree Sarah. I hadn’t read too many indie books until recently and have tossed a few aside that were full of errors. But if the book is well written (and highly praised like most of those on my TBR), I won’t give up. I’ll continue to the end.

  4. While I would not review a book I didn’t finish in some capacity (i.e., skimming the rest), as a reader, I don’t feel obligated to finish books I don’t care for. Yet I’ve noticed other reviewers who mark the book DNF.

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