The Boneyard: When Do You Give Up On A Bad Book or Movie?

From the desks of Sean Tuohy and Daniel Ford: At what point in reading a book or watching a movie do you know it's bad? At the beginning? In the middle? The end? How many books or movies have you dropped in the middle and never returned to? How bad does it need to be to walk away?

Rachel Tyner: I used to never stop reading a book or watching a movie, even if I didn't like it, because I had something against leaving it "unfinished."

Now, I'm getting older, and ain't nobody got time for that.

There are so many books and movies out there, so if I don't like something, I'm done with it. I try and give it three chances. Pick it up and read, get bored. Try again a few days later (or weeks, months, etc.). Try again one more time. Recently, this happened with Ender's Game. It seemed like I would love it "on paper" (haha, get it?), but it was seriously a terrible book.

I think you know pretty soon into a movie too. Remember "That Awkward Moment?" Terrible within the first five minutes. When something you are watching or reading is making your life less interesting (or even less fun, if that's the movie/book you are reading), what's the point?

Daniel Ford: I remember walking out of the theater during "That Awkward Moment" with you, Sean, and Steph. It was that moment one of the female characters' father dies and Zac Efron has to have a powwow with his boys to decide whether he wants to go or not because he doesn't want to be considered the girl's boyfriend. That movie still owes me money.

I tried to get into Ender's Game a bunch of times as well. Couldn't do it. Dune, same thing. I used to read much more nonfiction than I do now, and I'd bounce around from book to book if I got to a slower section or if my interests pulled me in another direction, but it's tough for me to put down a book for good.

I mentioned to Sean that I read a book recently that was awful, just awful. It had a good, strong opening, and then became 12 novels in one and none of them were good. And I hate read the rest. I complained to everyone I know. Must of the reactions were, "Well, just stop reading it." But by reading the whole thing I got a great lesson on failure (not that I needed one), and how learn how not to write dialogue.

That being said, you're right about time. It's one thing if all you're doing all day is sitting on the beach reading shitty paperbacks, but all of us have to work for a living. Why torture yourself when something isn't good? Better to go write something great than read something terrible!

Matt DiVenere: I have had the absolute worst luck with movies lately. It's basically a curse at this point. Here's the order of the last few movies I've watched that were offensively bad:

  • “The Drop”
  • “Hot Pursuit”
  • “Focus”
  • “Pitch Perfect 2”

I know that I should take the blame for some of these, but yikes. If I were the creators of “The Drop,” knowing that it's James Gandolfini's last movie, I would have burnt every single copy of that mess and sent the remains up into space rather than have that movie be in his IMDB profile.

The only reason why I watched the whole movie was to be able to fully hate them and thoroughly discuss my hate for them with anyone who asks.

Also, you know a movie is bad right away. The dialogue, the acting, and the soundtrack. Those are my three strikes.

Gary Almeter: I spent 2006 reading Theodore Dresier's An American Tragedy. It took an entire year and I hated every minute of it but just thought it was something I should have read. Never again. Now, if something doesn't grab me by page three or four I put it down and it is dead to me.

I walked out of "The Flintstones" starring John Goodman and Elizabeth Perkins. 

Daniel: I have fond memories of going to see "The Flintstones" with my family. It was one of the rare times in those days that my father had a Saturday morning off. I'm convinced he still regrets taking us to the movies that day.

I'm also more selective now that my time is so divided. I won't necessarily pick up a book that I'm on the fence about if I get in another book that I know I'll probably love. The one time I was swayed by some fall lists and picked up something I originally dismissed, I got burned with a crappy read.  

Lisa Carroll: I feel slightly ashamed to admit that I've tried to read The Hobbit about a dozen times since 2001 when "The Lord of the Rings" movie came out (because I will not break my rule about seeing a movie before I've read the book) and I just can't get past the damn dwarf party. Needless to say I have yet to see any of the films.

However, I do teach the "three strikes and you're out" rule to my kids. I tell them, "Give a book three chapters because sometimes the author takes a little longer with the exposition and if you get through three chapters and he/she hasn't captured you, put it down." I general stick with that rule myself. Except when I have to read a book for school.

The hard part about being a middle school librarian is when I have to read all 20 Nutmeg nominees and then book talk them and convince the kids that I love them all. That's where my degree in theater really pays off.

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