If a book doesn’t hook me in the first two chapters, I set it aside and move on. You should set your own standards and parameters, but do set them. I probably begin four times as many books as I finish for this reason. Maybe you think this is a waste, but I only have 40 years left, remember? And that’s if I exercise every day and take care of myself. I have no time to waste on books that don’t interest me.
This is my exact mentality.
Sometimes I don’t even give a book full two chapters. I’ve read the first ten pages of countless numbers of books and found that I had little interest in reading more. (Kindle’s free previews make this possible.)
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I’ve avoided nonfiction most of my life, but lately I’ve found a few that have snagged my interest.
I suppose it started last year, when I read Lyndsay Faye’s Dust and Shadow. I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan but never had much interest in reading any of the books not written by Conan Doyle himself. Then I came across Faye’s book, which is about Sherlock & Watson investigating the Ripper murders.
It’s still mostly a fiction novel, but it has a real true crime feel to it, as it incorporates meticulously researched details about the actual Ripper killings. It was a great read, and the true crime aspect of it made Conan Doyle’s characters come to life in a way I hadn’t experienced before, even in his own stories.
From there, I’ve moved on to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which I just started reading last week. It’s utterly gripping so far, and because of it I’ve developed a new interest: nonfiction novels, especially related to true crime.
I’m planning to tackle The Devil in the White City next.