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BOOK Can I criticize (or hate) a book I haven't read entirely?

Discussion in 'Education, Learning, Books' started by MJ DeMarco, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Thought a thread on this was worthwhile, and might be worth a discussion since it has come up on multiple occasions lately...

    Both here:
    BOOK - Can't Hurt Me: by David Goggins, Review and Discussion

    And here:
    BOOK - The reason I don't like Think and Grow Rich...

    The central question is, at what point can you criticize or hate a book?

    How many chapters do you need to read in order to say, "This book sucks, I won't continue and add to my sunk cost?"

    2 chapters?
    2 hours?
    The table of contents?
    Referrals from dozens of your peers/friends?

    For instance, I haven't read Tony Robbins' book, "Money Master the Game." I have, however, received dozens of emails from people who complained about it, telling me to avoid it and said it was a huge Slowlane junket fest. So, it isn't a book that I recommend and one that I take issue with because Tony (obviously) did not get rich by a Slowlane metric, stockpiling money into his 401(k).

    Yes these are judgements formed from third-person narratives and testimony, which does invite potential logic errors into conclusions. Conventional wisdom says, "Don't judge a book by its cover" which isn't something I agree with wholeheartedly. If the house is dilapidated from the outside, advertising "come in here and see how compound interest can make you rich!", I'm not going to care about its imported Italian furniture and silk curtains.

    At what point do I get a license to say "Avoid the book" or "I didn't like the book"?

    Never, until I read it entirely?
    6 chapters?
    50 emails from fans?


    Or, must you read the ENTIRE book (even if it continues to suck in your opinion) in order to say with confidence, "I hated it"?

    And yes, I don't like speaking ill about a book where I haven't read at least a few chapters to "give it a chance".

    Likewise, if TMF or UNSCRIPTED didn't grab a reader in an hour or two, I wouldn't expect him/her to continue. He/she would have a license to say, "Meh, don't read it. Couldn't finish it."

    Obviously this is a subjective matter and there won't be a right answer.

    But I'm interested in hearing everyone's thoughts.
     
  2. Jello
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    Jello Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Imo one has to read at least a part of the book to create a opinion on it.

    I always try to read the whole book. That's what I learned at school and somehow it got in my system and in 99% of the times I finish every book I once started.

    Also when I start something I like to finish it. But that's not always the best thing to do, which is also explained in Unscripted. Somewhere along the way you have to call you losses and decide to quit since it doesn't lead you to nowhere.

    Back to the book that isn't worthwhile reading to the end. Imo one has to read at least a part of it to form one's own opinion. You can always be honest and say I didn't read the whole book since after chapter three i lost my interest.

    Never I would criticize a book based on a opinion from others, not even if these others has my deepest respect.

    However I could say. I didn't read the book since people I think are knowledgeable, didn't recommend it.
     
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  3. GPM
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    GPM Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    Putting down books is something that I have a very hard time with. I feel the need to finish, no matter how bad it was.

    There is literally only one book that I ever stopped reading. I was about 13 and I had purchased it from a garage sale and planned on reading it for a school book report. It was about 350 pages long and I think it was called Reaper. I remember there being no "rave reviews" or any sort of praise on the cover.

    There are several books in recent memory that I have read through to completion, and regretted every hour of it. I now review the books I read in a spreadsheet and a #/10. They get piss poor scores and I make sure no one else reads them.

    I too am curious as to when I should be putting the book down. I need to do that more often
     
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  4. NMdad
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    NMdad Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER

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    I used to feel bad if I didn't finish reading a book. Now, I don't care as much.

    If I get bored, frustrated, etc., I'll typically read ~20% before ditching it. So, out of a 300-page book, maybe up to 60 pages.

    Some books it's easier to decide--they're either really good (lots of meat), really bad (99% fluff), or so poorly written that I move on & get the info from a different source.
     
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  5. NMdad
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    NMdad Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER

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    I've done the same thing. But you can't recapture that lost time--better to decide it's OK to ditch the book & spend that time more productively.
     
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  6. ZCP
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    ZCP Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    @MJ DeMarco how do you know you got the entire message if you don't attend the entire seminar? what if someone only saw a small snippet of you on one occasion and formed a full opinion on you and used their influence sphere to spread that opinion to others with that being the only thing they saw of you?

    maybe they saw a 30 sec youtube clip of you in the dark on your patio with your hat backwards ranting about the slowlane and decided you were a punk kid w/ bad ideas and told 1000's their take without ever looking more into your message.....

    how long should they have stayed with your book? what if the good stuff in your book was at the end?
     
  7. MTEE1985
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    MTEE1985 Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Two very different questions in my mind. You can say you don’t like a book whenever you want. You have zero authority to tell people to avoid it if you haven’t read it entirely. Can you tell them you couldn’t finish it and your reasons why? Absolutely. Avoid it? That’s iffy in my mind for one reason:

    What if the last chapter has something that will be life changing for somebody?

    It’s just like what you wrote about in Unscripted, why would you take business advice from somebody who doesn’t own a business?

    Why would you take book advice from somebody who hasn’t read the entire book?
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  8. ZCP
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    ZCP Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    here is what i do ..... i normally don't go into a book unless several people w/ some expertise in that area recommend it. if the first part sucks, i ask them if i should bail. if they say 'stick with it', i finish the book. then debate what i read with them. THEN form my opinion / decide what parts i can use.

    as an engineer, i need to see enough data to be able to form a basis for an opinion.
     
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  9. Yzn
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    Yzn Contributor

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    You should go to goodreads.com and type in the name of a book you want to read. You will be so confused to read it or not and USUALLY the reviews makes you lose motivation for the book to be honest. You could find two exactly opposite reviews and be like how did that happen.

    Having someone you trust give you feedback on a book would be better.

    But even then to be honest I would still recommend reading the book personally or scanning through chapters and reading the ones you find interesting.

    So basically you should be the judge. After how much reading? I believe you should be able to scan through the whole book before you can judge, even though you didn't read every page.

    I experienced it whilst reading your book actually...when I read the intro I was very attracted to what's further, but when you started talking about changing the mindset and how you should start thinking fast lane instead of slowlane I was like that's it for me. No more. The reason was because I read 10 books before yours that just talked about mindset the entire book that I was sick to my stomach. Keep in mind however that I believe that chapter is very important still because there are people who haven't read the mindset talk before your book so their experience would be totally different to mine.

    When I skipped to the last chapters where there were actual methods then I was like again damn I'm glad that intro really did mean what It promises.

    So that's how I treat every book I want to read. And It has worked for me.
     
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  10. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    That's their perogative.

    Again, they looked at the house and didn't like it, now they don't want to see the inside.

    Not saying that's right or wrong, that's just life. Everyone makes judgements on first impressions, even if those aren't accurate.

    Ill answer your question with another question...

    If within the first 45 minutes of the day long seminar you heard "All engineers are introspective idiots who can't see the big picture" and "Women should never own businesses" and a variety of other things that you don't agree with, and can refute quite easily -- do you need to stay and hear the entire seminar?
     
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  11. rogue synthetic
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    rogue synthetic * Not actually Rutger Hauer Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    My rules of thumb:

    If I'm reading to learn something, I want it to teach me as efficiently as possible, without lying to me or misleading me.

    If I'm reading for enjoyment, it better entertain me.

    With most popular nonfiction, I'm after a little of both. On the education side, most books these days are pretty well-organized, so I can power-skim the TOC, the intro, and the chapter sign-posts to figure out if it's worth a damn. The Big Idea of a book shouldn't be hard to find or summarize. The presentation of the idea may help or hurt, depending on the author.

    Fiction can be harder. Bad writers can make themselves clear in the first few paragraphs. Sometimes a story will fizzle later on and you won't notice without reading most of it.

    I think it's entirely possible to understand the message of a book without reading it cover-to-cover. I used to be a perfectionist about books, but lately I've had to learn to say "bye bye" if they don't earn their keep. This isn't always because the book is bad. It might just be that I can digest the Big Idea without an extra 250 pages of narrative or boring statistics I don't care about.

    Or it could just be a bad book.
     
  12. whiz
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    whiz Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Give it a fair read and if it doesn't work out, then be realistic and say something like

    "Disclaimer: I only read 4 chapters but the writing tone just didn't work for me"

    Instead of

    "That book sucks"

    Nothing wrong with judging if you're honest about what material you're basing your opinion from

    ---

    I feel like after you consume enough media (movies, books, etc) - you start to recognize patterns of what you like and what you don't like

    Pattern recognition / judgment is an integral part of evolution and the reason we're here today so of course we're going to apply it to like, everything

    So of course you CAN judge a book, just don't act like your opinion is God's judgment from the Heavens
     
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  13. NuclearPuma
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    NuclearPuma Bronze Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I have a different question. If the author doesn't follow their own advice, does that mean you shouldn't listen to what they have to say?
     
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  14. Santi Merino
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    Santi Merino Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    I think this is a very tough question, basically because how do you know that in the part you are not reading there is incredible content? Maybe that cannot happen in 50 shades of Grey as it's a novel, but surely that could happen in books like Money Master the Game (I haven't read any of these two).

    Let's take as an example the UNSCRIPTED chapter in which MJ talks about "Follow your passion" and "Do what you love" page 205; Fools Gold: "Do what you love" and "Follow your passion".

    I love this chapter but recently I saw some people who think the opposite. (I'd say most people who didn't read TMF or UNSCRIPTED thinks the opposite indeed). The point is, let's imagine this is one of the main chapters of the book; maybe "Follow your passion" is your way of life and when you read this chapter you decide to stop reading and burn the book or something.

    You could say this book is a sh*** for what it says about "Do what you love" but you missed practically the whole book as this chapter is a few pages long. You missed a lot of value and knowledge because you did read something you didn't like and you closed yourself off from the whole book.

    Of course this is an exaggeration, but what I mean is that we judge so quickly and we lose some "golden nuggets" of the things we see and read.

    So, in my opinion, the point where you get a license to say "I didn't like the book" is when you read a significant portion of the book (I'd say between a 25% and 50%) and you know you did read "enough bullshit". The thing that will never change is that "bullshit" is your opinion.

    I look forward to listening to more opinions!
     
  15. 404profound
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    404profound Gold Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Depends what element of the book is being criticized. If you want to evaluate the comprehensiveness of a book on a specific domain, the table of content is probably sufficient. But then again, taking that at face value allows for false positives, because a lot of authors pay lip service in their table of contents and then do a lousy job writing content to it. I do think authors tend to be consistent from one section to the next in writing style, so for stylistic considerations you probably don't have to read far before you can make an assessment. In sum, I think any book ought to be read at least one or two chapters in before making any confident judgement. That mindset of course puts the consumer at risk, because they have to make a purchase based on assumptions of received quality. The Amazon preview function helps with that a lot; don't have to be a riverboat gambler with my book purchases.
     
  16. ZCP
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    ZCP Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    That is where I'd ask the person that recommended the seminar. If they say stick it out, I would. Then take what I could out of it to help me.

    If i'm the first of the group to go to that particular seminar, I stick it out to be the guinea pig for the group and report back.

    You are leading a lot of people with your books and this forum, wouldn't you want to make sure you have the full information to pass along to the group?
     
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  17. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    My rule has always been the point at which I throw the book across the room.

    I find this may be accompanied by me shouting expletives, sometimes very creative ones. Depending on the underlying philosophy of the book, it may happen as early as Page 1.
     
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  18. Rabby
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    Rabby Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Personally, the only way I would stay for something like that would be if I intended to make a study of the presenter's inner workings. They would have already lost all credibility with me as a presenter, because their thinking is defective.
     
  19. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    I wonder if this discussion would allow us to come to a definitive conclusion, or a method to follow when a book doesn't perform in a person's initial read of early chapters.

    Read all of it? Half?

    What would be a "life law" to follow?

    Because I definitely agree ... hating the first half of a book (and getting nothing out of it ) does NOT mean that the latter half won't provide great value.
     
  20. Walter Hay
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    Walter Hay Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    This thread seems to be mostly about educational books, or at least ones claiming to be educational, and I might be unpopular for introducing the world's all-time best seller, the Bible. (According to Guinness Book of Records, 50 billion copies and counting.)

    It is an educational book of indisputably ancient origin, and it contains masses of historical facts, many of which have been previously disputed or even ridiculed until modern archaeology has proven them true.

    Very few people bother to read the entire Bible, yet they are happy to criticize it on the basis of two things:
    1. The opinions of others, most of whom have never read it.
    2. Their own opinion, without reading it, but based on dislike of some of the fairy tale type doctrines taught generally by promoters of religion.

    Originally an agnostic, I have read the entire book. In fact I have read it in its entirety well over 50 times, and the New Testament over 100 times. I never accepted what I was told by either critics or learned commentators to accept as its message, but I learned for myself.

    Yes, masses of people hate or criticize the book, without a clue about its real message.

    Walter
    P.S. I have been an avid reader since being bedridden as a child. In my Featured User thread I mentioned that in hospital I read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. It has been rare for me to discard a book before finishing it.
     
  21. TreyAllDay
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    TreyAllDay Whatever it takes Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I think within a few chapters you should understand the general ideology, and it's perfectly fine to make a recommendation or judgement call! =) Otherwise, the author doesn't do a very good job of clearly laying out their arguments, and I wouldn't recommend the book in that case either.

    "CRUSHING IT" by Gary V was in the donation bin after 3 chapters.

    I have so little time for reading and so many I want to read that even if I LIKE the ideology of a book I can get sick of it fast if it's not useful.

    A good example - around the time I read MFL I bought "How To Get Rich" by Felix Dennis. I didn't learn ANYTHING about "How To Get Rich" in the first half of the book, I hated it. BUT some might like it?
     
  22. PizzaOnTheRoof
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    PizzaOnTheRoof Seasoned Action-Faker Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    My opinion is that if a book can't make you want to keep reading then you can stop and say you didn't like the book.

    However, I wouldn't tell someone else not to read it simply because I didn't like it. They may find it valuable.
     
  23. NuclearPuma
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    I skip ahead.

    If I don't like some part of a book I skip ahead to the end of that section and try to find the concluding summary.

    Then it's on to the next chapter, section, whatever.

    You don't have to read a book all or nothing and you don't have to read a book front to back.

    There are a few books I don't re-read the whole book, I re-read select chapters.
     
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  24. Andy Black
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    Andy Black Any colour, as long as it's red. Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I used to pride myself on finishing every single book I started, and I read 3-4 fiction books a week as a kid.

    Then, when I was in my teens, I decided that was a dumb macho thing (for me) to do.

    Now I drop it like a hot snot if it doesn’t get me in the first few pages. Authors know they should get people in the first few pages, and if they haven’t, then I figure “how you do anything is how you do everything”.

    Sheeit. My attention and my time are some of my most valuable commodities (just ask my kids as they battle for my attention and time constantly).

    I buy books to solve the problem in front of me. I often don’t read from the start but dive straight into where I want to. It could well be from having done IT support looking after mission critical systems. If a system falls over we don’t look for the relevant 300 page manual and start at page 1... we skim the contents and index trying to find the answer to our problem.


    I used to also take pride that all my books were pristine. Now I love books being dog eared with pencil scribbles in them.

    That’s what I think the author would like to happen to their book - read from cover to cover multiple times and carried around in a coat pocket for weeks on end with a pencil as the bookmark.


    I’ll happily bin a book if nothing grabs me in the first few paragraphs and a subsequent skim.

    If the author was in front of me talking crap or about something I’m not interested in then I’d politely extricate myself and be on my way. Why should I give that person even more of my time just because they wrote it down?


    More insidious I think is that we can fill our heads up with nonsense that can take us days, months, or years to undo.

    Nope, that door isn’t open just because a pen was put to paper.


    I don’t think I pass judgement on books though. In the TAGR thread I just said “I skimmed it and put it down”. In the Goggins thread I just said “I bailed after a minute listening to it on Audible”. That’s me saying they didn’t grab me, and letting you know how much of a shot I gave it so you can form your own opinion of my opinion.
     
  25. Timmy1990
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    Timmy1990 I Will Not Stop! Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    If I don't enjoy a book and it's starting to drain me or I feel I get where the whole entire book is going I just wont go ahead with the rest of it 9 times out of 10. Time is your most valuable asset. Now where I would keep listening or reading to a book is if I have listened to a book from the same author before and found value within it. For example if MJ Demarco listed another book for sale and I got to a point where I'm thinking I can't get through this, I would keep listening purely for the fact the author has proven there value to me before so I am inclined to believe that it will turn around.

    Same goes for other books I felt the same way about.

    I got to chapter 7 of David goggins and I felt it was just going around in circles.
     
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