50 Pages or A Sex Scene

That’s when I make a decision, as a reader.

I’ve been reading since I was little. Granted, I wasn’t reading books with more than 50 pages, or anything containing sex scenes, but I’m sure I had a system even then to distinguish between what I wanted, and what I didn’t want. It probably related to illustrations and inclusion of, or lack of, kitty cats.
Now that I’m older I’ve got a handy little thing called Goodreads that I use to make my list of “to-reads.” And oh my, friends, that last is long. So long that I really should consider breaking a leg or devising a bed rest of some sort here soon.
I exercise, I eat (somewhat) healthy, I’ve got a pretty clear family history when it comes to the really bad health words. But… I’ve got a nagging sensation that I won’t ever be able to read all the books that I want to read before you know – I ‘m dead.
That’s because I work in a library, and every box I open tends to add another 4-5 books to the “to-read” list, whereas every week I chalk up at the most 2 on the “read” list. It’s not a good ratio. So I’m re-instituting a rule I devised in college, when pleasure reading took a backseat (pun intended) to the meatier (pun intended) stuff.
50 Pages or A Sex Scene
That’s right. If I could give less of a crap about the characters or plot in the first 50 pages OR if I get to sex scene that does absolutely nothing for me, then the book is dead to me, and it goes on the “not-to-be-read” pile. 
Granted, some books have a sex scene much quicker than others. The most memorable early sex scene I can remember was a Page Two event that really did nothing for me, but I kept going because I was intrigued by the balls it took to just throw that out there. In the end, the book was crap, but it was a lesson learned.
What’s your rule? When do you decide to part ways with the not-so-awesome plot?

8 thoughts on “50 Pages or A Sex Scene

  1. It takes me a lot of discipline to actually stop reading a book that I paid for. Maybe I'm just cheap like that. But I've been training myself, because my time is too limited to be spent on junk. So, I have the “work” rule. The minute it feels like work, I'm done… or I turn it into work, by taking notes on what makes it not work, so I will avoid the same things.

  2. I have the same “to read” versus “read” ratio as you, but I'm absolutely terrible about not finishing books. Even if I don't like them, I almost always need to know how they end! I'm just starting to employ a “skim” tactic for books if I'm not enjoying them.

  3. Derrick – Very true. I find myself in the position lately where my time is worth more to me than money though. So I'll take the hit on the book and trade it with a friend for something my time is better spent on.

    CB – Yes, the skim tactic. If I'm feeling particularly antsy I'll skim for the first sex scene ; )

  4. I don't have a hard and fast rule. It's more of a “I'll know it when I see it” approach. A gratuitous sex scene isn't a deal breaker for me, but if the main characters are insipid or annoying I will usually put it down. This, coupled with the fact that I generally read 2-4 books per week, is why I hardly ever buy books, and rely on the library instead.

  5. It usually only takes me a chapter or two. If I get in fifty pages, I'm usually too invested by then.

    The last I put down, I was 20 pages in. But considering it was like 300+ pages and I could easily find out the ending on Goodreads or Amazon, it was easy to quit.

  6. I feel the same way — my life won't be as long as my TBR pile. If the reading is for fun, I'm hard core. If I'm not hooked by the first or second chapter, I'm done. However, if it's for research, I'll try my best to stick it out.

  7. Marin – Oh, a gratuitous sex scene might be a “deal-maker” for me… if it's well written.

    Suzi – I don't put many down, I confess, which is why the old rule is being re-instituted.

    Beth – Reading for research, yeah thats… kind of a different story. Obviously I have different qualifications for NF, although instituting 50 pages or a Sex Scene across the board could get interesting.

  8. Nice rule!

    Like you, I'm super-busy and my TBR list has grown like kudzu. I just can't cut it back. I don't think I have a set page number. There's just a sort of internal timer that goes off and I'll decide not to waste any more time. Also, there's a certain amount of ick that I can take before I have to quit, even if a book intrigues me.

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