Second Chances

discussion

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while. I’m not terribly prone to holding grudges as a person, but I find that this doesn’t necessarily translate to my bookish decisions.

I rarely give second chances to authors who have disappointed me. Well, this sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Like authors have some sort of responsibility to make me love their books? But it’s the only way to not drive myself crazy, really – my to-be-read pile is enormous as it is, without adding books by authors I’ve given a chance but haven’t enjoyed.

srcek

There are cases when I read the first book in a series, for example, and know upon finishing it that I will never pick up the sequel(s)Hounded was one such book, as was Perfect Ruin. They weren’t necessarily BAD books, I just couldn’t connect with the main character at all and the style wasn’t made for me. A non-serial book that cemented my dislike for an author (in less than 150 pages, no less), is The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway – I can’t explain it to you, but that fish killed all my desire to ever read another one of his books. Such is life, eh?

Then there are authors I have given second (and third and fourth) chances. But their books never got better. So why am I doing this to myself? Hell if I know. I promised myself after reading Every Last Breath that I won’t be reading another Jennifer Armentrout book because they are badbadbad (hello, slut shaming, pointless love triangles and having readers pick the love interest by A POLL – I think smoke came out of my ears when I heard THAT particular bit of craziness) but I also know myself and will probably fold as soon as I see that Wicked got a sequel. I know everyone says life is to short to read bad books, but some are so bad they’re actually good. Am I making sense at all?

I sometimes stick with an author even though their books didn’t wow me, just so I can finish a series and cross it off my list. *sigh* Leaving series unfinished is one of my great vices so I’m trying to be better at that. I don’t know whether I’ll be giving the last part of the Malediction trilogy a go yet, for example, but I might, even though I didn’t really enjoy the second book in the series.

Then there are authors I’ve sworn I’ll never read again but was convinced by other people (*cough* my husband *cough*) that giving them another chance would be worth it. And it was… until it wasn’t. I’m talking about Joe Abercrombie, of course, whose First Law trilogy I read a while ago – and hated the ending. I just thought it was completely pointless! Then I gave Half a King a try, loved it, adored Half the World and… HATED the ending in Half a War. Ugh! (To be honest, my husband couldn’t have known how this trilogy would end, I actually finished it before he did, I commandeered the last book as soon as it arrived, that’s how excited I was.) Why, Joe, why? Why do you make me care for your characters and then disappoint me so? (I know books aren’t written for me, but sometimes I wish they were…)

srcek

What, then, is the conclusion I can draw from this? I would love to read all the books in the world. I would. Really. It’s my heart’s greatest ambition (well, not really but it would be pretty awesome, don’t you think?). But I can’t, so I have to make some decisions on how to pick my next read.

Sticking with an author whose book(s) I didn’t enjoy seems like a pointless thing to do because there are so many other authors whose books I haven’t given a try yet. It almost seems unfair to those yet-unread authors if I continue reading books that I’m not enjoying. I might finish a series if I’m halfway through already and the books aren’t monstrously long, but then I also feel like I owe it to myself to read books I actually like.

srcek

What’s your take on this?

Are you a loyal reader who sticks with an author no matter what or do you drop them like a hot potato as soon as they displease you?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • For me, it depends…

    If I have faith that the series might conclude in an interesting manner, I can forgive a slow middle book. I loved book #1 of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, “Annihilation,” but book #2 was SUCH a drag. I still plan to finish this trilogy, though, because I like VanderMeer’s writing style and I adore the creepy setting of these books.

    Other books can anger/frustrate me enough that I drop the series for good – e.g. Allie Condie’s “Matched” trilogy. Book #1 sucked me in with a pretty writing style (despite a fairly ho-hum dystopian YA setting), then book #2 turned out to be SO BAD. Abandoned that one for good. Bluh.

    P.S. I don’t begrudge you even a bit for not wanting to read more Hemingway. I read one of his novels for the first time this year, and I’m not dying to read any more, either.

    • Haha, Hemingway seems to be losing his edge. (Though to tell you the truth, my brother recently borrowed The Old Man and the Sea from me, loved it and is now reading his 4th Hemingway book… *sigh*)

      Yeah, with series/trilogies, the second book often decides things for me. And they’re so often bad! I feel like a lot of series would benefit from being duologies/standalones…

      And you’ve made me glad I skipped Matched – I was really fed up with dystopians at the time I checked it out and decided to leave it for later… Obviously a good choice.

  • This is an interesting question!
    Personally, if I read a book by an author I usually love and it disappoints me, I’m usually willing to give them a second chance. I suppose most authors probably have one book that isn’t quite in the same league as their others. However, if the first book I read by an author doesn’t do it for me, I usually just won’t bother reading another one. If I haven’t already read something by them that I like, then I presume j just don’t like their writing (which could be right or wrong – maybe I just read their worst book first!).

    • Yeah, this is my problem, too – can I really judge an author’s entire opus by one book? Probably not but I always come back to the problem of TIME – as in, I don’t have enough of it. But yes, every author should be allowed a bad book every now and then, right? :)

  • Very interesting discussion topic and one that I’ve struggled with myself. On the one hand, I can have a hard time letting go. If I started a series and liked it, I will tend to continue the series despite the fact that the series seems to be getting less and less good – or the fact that I outgrew the series for instance. That being said, if something happens in a book that I really deem unforgivable, I’ll give up the series – and likely the author – like a bad job. If I DNF a book, or rate it like 1-star, chances are, I won’t check out anything by that author again…unless tons of glowing reviews start coming in and make me change my mind. Usually though, if I break up with an author, it’s usually for the best LOL! Awesome post ♥

    • I feel like we should write authors “Dear John” letters – “I’m really sorry I’m breaking up with you but our relationship just isn’t working anymore… It’s you, it’s not me…” :D (Poor authors.)

      That said, peer pressure is definitely a huge thing to consider – I often fall for the hyped-up books and I’m sometimes disappointed by what I get. I wonder what would happen if I just refused to read books like that – but I’m too curious to let them pass.

      Thanks for stopping by, Micheline! :)

  • I used to be really bad about this and finished EVERYTHING I started–every book, every series, no matter how bad it was. Now? I know how limited my time is, so unless I’m purposely reading something just to not do homework (the equivalent of watching cheesy Hallmark movies), I stop when I’m not enjoying it or not interested. I usually know if I’ll continue a book within the first chapter or two. If it hasn’t grabbed me, so long! Finish the first book in a series and don’t care enough to continue? Move along! It’s a little sad, but freeing.

    As far as giving authors a second chance…there are one or two authors I know I’ll almost always enjoy, but otherwise I tend to judge on a book-by-book basis. If I didn’t love your writing style but now you’re publishing a super cool looking fairy tale retelling that sounds absolutely amazing and awesome, I’ll probably give it a try. :)

    • Right? I feel like my priorities are shifting, too – if I don’t like something, I feel less and less obligated to stick with it.

      Ah, I do have more auto-buy authors. I like following young writers’ careers especially, seeing how they evolve with time. And sometimes I find a book by an author and then binge-read their entire backlist.

      And yes, fairy tale retellings are my crack, too, it’s a given that I’ll look into them even if I am uncertain about an author.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kel! :)

  • Well, for me it’s based on the writer’s style the most. Like, Sarah MacLean. I want to love her books. I do. And I never hate them, and I don’t think they’re bad. But I just don’t think she writes books that I enjoy. Personal reading preferences.

    But there are authors that I keep coming back to, similar to you and JLA. I do like JLA, but I haven’t been keeping up with her stuff lately. I have read some Abbi Glines books talk about terrible. I mean, SO BAD! And yet, I’ve read more than one or even two. I don’t know why!

    • I think that with bad romances, it’s like with junk food – you KNOW you shouldn’t eat the entire chocolate bar but you do anyway, because it makes you feel good temporarily. :) I use this argument whenever someone asks me why I read trashy romance/erotica. :)

  • Maraia

    Wait, I thought you liked “Half a War”?! (I still haven’t read your review yet, because I’m waiting for a car trip to listen to the audiobook.) Eek.

    I definitely agree that life is too short – and my TBR too long – to waste my time with books or authors I don’t enjoy. I used to feel guilty about it, but just as authors don’t have a responsibility to make us love their books, neither do we have a responsibility to either read or love them.

    I’m automatically wary of authors when I don’t like a book of theirs, but I am sometimes open to trying again, depending on why I disliked the book. It helps if readers I trust recommend other works by the author. I’m still working with this when it comes to series, but I feel a lot less obligated to finish them than I used to. For example, I’m perfectly fine with my decision to not read “Lion Heart,” “End of Days” (sad about this one!), or “Their Fractured Light.”

    On the other hand, there are authors I love whose books I will read (almost) no matter what, such as Juliet Marillier. I thought the first two books in the Shadowfell series were painfully boring, but since she’s a favorite author, I finished the trilogy and actually ended up enjoying the third book.

    I also agree that sometimes books can be so bad that they’re good. Not every book we read has to be amazing, and sometimes it’s refreshing to read an absolute crap book, haha.

    • Aghhh I DID like Half a War but I didn’t like the ending! It’s like he purposefully creates characters that I take an interest with and then just MESSES THEM UP (and I don’t necessarily mean he kills them, I just HATE what they’ve become). BAH. I’ll have to think long and hard before I read something of his again – A. will probably buy his books and then I’ll wait for the series is finished before I start it – I’ll make A. tell me if it has the same problem. Ha.

      Yeah, I like your point about not being responsible for loving books – it really goes both ways. I hope every author finds an avid audience, I just don’t have to be a part of it.

      You’re not finishing the Scarlet series? I’m rather looking forward to Lion Heart, it sounds interesting. But yes, End of Days was pretty bad. *sigh*

      And I think you sometimes have to read crap books because they make you appreciate the really good ones even more. :)

      • Maraia

        Er, you’re not making me any less nervous to read Half a War, haha.

        Nope. I wasn’t a fan of the first two (Amber of Books of Amber sums up my feelings quite accurately in her reviews), so I decided it wasn’t worth reading. You win some, you lose some, right?

        Exactly!

  • This is a really good question! For me it depends on how much I didn’t like the book. If it was just okay, then maybe I’ll consider continuing the series. If I loathe the book, I’ll probably be a bit more hesitant on picking the second one up. It’s always a risk though – because you never know if you’re missing something extremely good or if you’re about read something terrible, you know? Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous discussion! ♥

    • Thanks, Zoe! :)

      That’s a good idea, making a distincton between books you “dislike” and those you “loathe”. So if you give a book a 1/10, you’ll drop the author but a 4/10 might get a second chance.

      And yes, I always worry about missing out on great books, especially if they’re hyped-up.

  • LOVE this question! So. I won’t drop an author instantly. I almost never do that, unless it is such an unappealing situation that I never want to subject myself to it ever again (that chick who wrote 50 Shades, basically). Mostly, I am good with a second chance. But after that? Probably not. It isn’t that I WON’T read their books, I am just not going to go out of my way TO read them, which essentially equates to the same thing.

    Also- seriously, a poll to decide a love interest!? I… yeah, no words. Oh, and I will absolutely pass on Hemingway with you. Yawn.

    • Yeah I still haven’t gotten over the love triangle poll. I’ve been putting off writing that review to see if I can calm down a little but it just isn’t happening so I guess I’ll have to rant a bit.

      Haha, I considered reading Grey (the sequel to 50 shades) but decided not to because I’d be supporting an author whose idea(l)s I strongly disagree with + I have better things to do/read.

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

  • Jolien @ The Fictional Reader

    This is such an interesting topic!

    I do agree with having so many books I really want to read, that I automatically ignore books I know I probably won’t like. That includes books from authors I didn’t enjoy before. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald… I absolutely loathe The Great Gatsby and I have no desire to pick up any of his other books. I’m trying to think of other examples but none truly come to mind in the moment. I think I may be avoiding authors whose book I’ve disliked without even realizing it..

    Great post! :)

    • Ohh welcome, my fellow Gatsby hater! :D That book is POISON. I hated Daisy so much – and I will probably never read another Fitzgerald book, either, I don’t cate if they’re classics. I mean, not even Leo DiCaprio managed to endear that book to me and that’s saying something.
      I had a similar problem with Wuthering Heights – I had to read it for a class at Uni and hated all the characters. Terrible.

  • Great post!

    I have to admit it’s not really until this year that I started paying attention to who I was reading. Like you I have a huge TBR, there are so many books I want to read, so I’ve always wanted to read as many different authors as I can. This year I started to focus more on reading more work from authors I like, and I’ve really enjoyed doing that – now I feel like I can talk about my favourite authors with more confidence, because my favourite authors aren’t authors I’ve only read one book by anymore.

    When it comes to the flip-side of the coin, however, I don’t tend to pick up books by people whose work I haven’t previously enjoyed. I don’t think I’m being entirely fair there, because some people have written some terrible books and then some that are blow-your-socks-off brilliant, so is depriving myself of more than a specific author’s work just cutting my own nose off to spite my face?

    Ultimately I think it depends what kind of author they are. For example, if there’s an author who specifically writes historical fiction and I didn’t like their historical fiction, I’m probably not going to pick up more of their work, but if they’re an author who’s written everything from contemporary to sci-fi to crime, and I only didn’t like one of those books, I’ll probably give one of their other books in another genre a try. I think a good example is Stephenie Meyer; not many people like her Twilight books, but even people who don’t like Twilight have really enjoyed The Host.

    So for me it just depends on the author more than anything. :)

    • I like researching my favourite authors’ backlists, too, it’s interesting to see how they’ve evolved as writers.

      Mhm, you’re right – it really does depend on how diverse an author’s writing is. It’s easier to discard someone who writes only in one genre (especially if it’s a very rigid genre like historical romance, where you expect certain conventions to be met) because you can predict what their writing will be like. I know I sometimes gave second chances to authors like that and my opinion didn’t change in the slightest.

      You know, I haven’t read the Host. I tried to once but it didn’t work for me – but I saw the movie, which was okay. Did you like it?

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  • What you’re saying is true, there is not enough time in the world to be wasting on books you don’t enjoy, but I am always determined to keep trying again with authors because they might have a bad book (or ten) but there is always the chance the next one will be better. I know I should stop reading Jennifer Armentrout, her books are all kinds of bad, but I can’t! There are some authors who you know write some terrible books, but they write these stories you can’t help but want to read. I get sucked in every time and I think my issue is, her books are the ones I know I would have loved at about 16 and so I keep wanting to read them.

    At the same time, if I do read one bad book by an author I am so wary about reading a next one. Take Megan Erickson, I hated Make It Count, it was a ridiculous story with a character that did not have very big issues who blew them out of proportion, but the other two books in the Bowler University series I loved and I put off reading them for ages because I didn’t like that first book.

    I can’t judge an author by just one book. I am a very forgiving reader, though. I like to judge each book individually wherever possible. Sometimes you find an author you know you don’t gel with for whatever reason, you don’t need to justify why you don’t read their books, it just doesn’t work for you. I wish I could be more cut throat and cut some authors off so I had more time for better books, but I just can’t.

    • Haha, this is just the kind of reply I thought you’d write, in the best possible way. I think forgiving readers are the best, they’re what authors want most, I think. :) I feel like my tendencies are non-cut-throat-like, too, I just WANT to be more ruthless. And when I read an author’s entire backlist (like I do with many romance writers), I always end up reading some of their worst stuff, too, but I still like them.

      And that’s a great point – the past me would have enjoyed Armentrout’s books immensely, maybe that’s why I have a hard time dropping her! :)

      • I can’t decide if it’s good you know me so well or bad that I am totally predictable. I am going with good :) And I do wish I could be more cut throat too… but that’s just not the type of reader I am. Maybe it’s because we read romance (romance authors are the worst for having some terrible older books) that we have become forgiving. We are convinced that an authors writing can only get better.

        I am convinced past me’s reading tastes are to blame for my undying devotion to Armentrout’s books, she is the author I wish I had read when I was younger. We’re all allowed a guilty pleasure author… that one you know writes nothing good but somehow still draws you in with each new book.

  • I RARELY ever give authors a second chance. It’s not that I don’t want to, but there are simply too many other authors out there that I want to check out, or other works form authors I know I like.

    One author in particular is David Walton. I read his novel Quintessence, and, well, it had great ideas and promise, but I didn’t think he executed those well and I was really disappointed in the end. Earlier this year though, I got a message from a publisher, asking if I wanted to check out his two new books, Superposition and Supersymmetry. I was hesitant, but hey, free books? And like I said, thought his other book did have promise.

    Turned out being a great thing I gave him a second chance. Not only did I think he had better ideas and concept for these book, but I also thought he executed them excellently!

    I’m still very hesitant to give authors – I think Walton was a rarity – but I suppose if a book gets enough hype, and from people who tastes are similar are mine, I’d give them another chance. For the most part though, I’m going to stick to who I like, and giving new authors a shot.

    • Ah, yes, the HYPE. Ugh. I feel like I should stop reading hyped-up books because they often exaggerate how excellent the book is but I always end up caving to the pressure.

      And yeah, I agree with you – I prefer giving new authors a try instead of reading book by authors I’ve tried but disliked. Thinking about all the unknown authors and unread books sometimes makes me feel really sad I am a mere mortal, probably 1/4 through my life… SO MORBID! :)

      But yes, some authors deserve second chances – if we judged everyone by their debut novels, it wouldn’t be fair, they get better at their jobs like everyone else.

      Thanks for the comment, as always. :)

  • Joann Downie

    I dont usually give authors a second chance unless there’s something really compelling to make me try again.

    • Yeah, if I dislike an author, I have to be REALLY intrigued about their next book to read it!

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

  • For me, It completely depends. I’ve dropped some authors after one terrible book, given some a try with a different book, not even tried other books by authors I do love, read entire series I didn’t like—I’ve done it all lol. I’m more of a specific book/series person than an author person though. So, if I like one of their series but then don’t like the next one I try, I’ll still try another by them if it interests me. It’s less likely, though not impossible, that I’ll try another book by an author if the first I read it terrible. And I don’t force myself to read books just because they’re by a certain author if that book is simply not my thing.

    • Ah, I definitely agree with your last point. If I’ve enjoyed an author’s paranormal fantasy series, that doesn’t mean that I’ll read their sci-fi, for example, especially if I don’t like the descriptions (JK Rowling’s detective books being a perfect example).
      But there are some authors I would follow to bizzare genres – like Rainbow Rowell and Victoria Schwab. They’re authors that have dazzled me with everything I’ve ever read by them so I’m more than willing to give them a chance. :)

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  • Giving an author a second chance for me is all about why I didn’t like them in the first place. If it’s an authors first book, then I’ll probably give them a second chance with a later book or their next series. If I really don’t like the characters, I won’t finish a series but I might try a different series if it’s recommended to me. I think the main reason I wouldn’t give an author a second chance is if I DNF one of their books. There’s kind of reason to spend my time on them when I could be reading other things, just as you said :)