When is a book a Sustaining Book, and when should it be thrown aside?

When is a book a Sustaining Book, and when should it be thrown aside?
Source: Reusableart.com

When do you give up on a bad book?

I'm sure there are such things; I've run into two in recent weeks. (No, not "Moby-Dick" -- I'm going on with that.)

I started a book called "The Pain Chronicles," but gave up on it. Call me suggestible, but it made me feel rotten.

Then I tried Ewan Clayton's "The Golden Thread: The Story of Writing." I thought there might be something there to write about, but I never dreamed it'd be this kind of post. The book is a history of the development of the act of writing, looking from carvings to books, without much sense of character or impact on people. I love looking at things historically, but it was just too much for me.

The experience of two duds, two bad books in a few weeks, left me thinking of a quotation and looking for it:

"This is not a book to be thrown aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

But my Bartlett's Familiar Quotations didn't have it. Neither did a book about the person I had heard credited with this cleverness, "The Complete Dorothy Parker" (Viking, 1972).

I gave in and tried Google. I located a site, Quote Investigator, which Bartlett would have loved (or worked for). The writers of the site indicate that the quote seems to have appeared originally in Reader's Digest in 1960, and attributed to Parker at a later date.

So I'll go on with "Moby-Dick" and return these other books. I think I'll have enough to read anyway. "Moby-Dick" has intriguing characters, and interesting adventure is beginning. I think it's my Sustaining Book for now.

Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.

Do you give up on bad books? Do you give up on bad blogs? (Oh, well, I'm all right, eh?) If you don't give up, how about subscribing? Just click on the "Subscribe by e-mail" tab and follow the prompts.


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  • Probably, the reason you didn't find the quotation is that Nazi book burning has given such sentiments a bad name, for good reason. It reminds me about a time when office library staff was told to throw out "inventory," but that's too complicated for me to want to go into, other than that the computer makes the office and the inventory now superfluous..

  • In reply to jack:

    Well, thanks for reading, Jack. But I'm only getting rid of the books because they aren't what I want to read right now, like clothes that don't fit. If you'll take a look at the Quote Investigator site, you'll see that the words were used -- just not necessarily by Parker. (There are a couple of reviews there listed in my "complete" Parker reader which I must, well, review soon.) I have three library boxes and a very tempting room at a park fieldhouse where the books might wind up. It's just a question of where I'm going, and maybe of what else I'm carrying at the time.

  • In recent years I have read some duds from start to finish out of stubbornness: maybe I had plans to review the book; maybe the book came highly-recommended and I hoped to like it; maybe the book began with a bang and then seemed to lose its way.....but now I feel myself developing an attitude of "I don't have time for completing books that I'm not connecting with in a genuine way." (I had to laugh when I read where you wrote "I gave in and tried Google." - I get it!

  • In reply to folkloric:

    I get stubborn, too, folkloric. But you're right, time's precious. Thanks!

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