When do you give up on a book?


That pivotal moment…

photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/9mNBKa

Sometimes we just need to give up on a book…
photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/9mNBKa

Do you have a point of no return when reading a book? Are there unforgivable sins an author can commit that stops you reading in your tracks? I believe there are, here are a few I’ve come across.

1. The fundamentals of writing are off: This can be anything from really poor spelling, to incorrect grammar usage or a combination of both. It can also include books that seem to have no plot, stories that don’t seem to fully form ideas and resolutions and also when the author is obviously selling the story for other formats (like the big screen).

No one thing in that list is usually enough to make the throw my kindle across the room, but a hefty combination of any of them will certainly sway me.

2. Unrealistic characters: Also sometimes referred to as the Too Stupid To Live (TSTL) character. When a character that is 12 years old reacts to a situation better than most adults, that’s just wrong. When they make decisions based on some random piece of information instead of the glaringly obvious or when they are either too perfect, too stupid or too flawed to be real.

I feel like doing this...photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/8DE5ZV

Sometimes I feel like doing this…
photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/8DE5ZV

I haven’t come across many of these, but I have been privy to a couple and they made me want to cry. If your protag can’t react like a 12-year-old if s/he’s 12, then change him/her. Or at least show the reader a volume of past experiences that might have matured him/her mentally.

3. Jamming beliefs down the readers throat: This one is a personal one for me. I dislike any book where the protag or even the author when writing tries to force you to convert your beliefs, thoughts or dreams to theirs. I have seen this done in a couple of ways, one being constant repeating of the same message throughout a book and/or forcing mass amounts of information about said subject at the reader.

Let’s be clear here, I have no problem with religion or faith or anything like that, you can believe whatever you wish to believe in. So, I am all for the character/s in the book being religious, praying, talking to Yoda or God or whoever, showing tenacity in adhering to their beliefs of whatever kind, following their dreams, learning a new skill or lesson, but I will NOT read a book where the author is obviously trying to convince/convert the reader of that same thing.

4. Seeing the movie/TV series first: A rather odd one I know, but occasionally this has been an issue for me. The prime example of this is with Dexter. I was introduced to the story of our lovable serial killer by way of Foxtel. I instantly enjoyed the on-screen presence of Michael C. Hall and his portrayal of the character, Dexter. I quickly finished watching Seasons 1 and 2 of the show and rushed out to buy the books by Jeff Lindsay, alas the representation of Dexter on-screen was too different to the character in the books that it became really rather confusing to read.

It didn’t feel like I was reading about Dexter, but his shoddy cousin who happened to look kind of like him and act kind of like him. It was a rather strange experience. Hence, the book earnt its place on my couldn’t finish shelf.

What rules did authors break, what sins did authors commit or what else might stop you from reading? Share with us below.

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13 thoughts on “When do you give up on a book?

  1. I do find it difficult to finish a book I don’t like, for whatever reason. There are so many wonderful books out there, and not enough time to read them all … I suppose that could be one reason why my preferred format is that of the ‘short story’. Although I do feel that grammar, structure and so on, is if anything even more important in short fiction; there’s nowhere to hide!

    • I agree with you on the structure and correct word choice in short stories M.R.

      The shortness of them does lend itself to a sort of urgency to get only the best and most correct words across. You don’t have anywhere to hide as you say.

      I have written a few short stories in my day, I do find it difficult to cull the word count. I think I am naturally wordy 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I just could not, not finish a book. I would either pity read it or force myself to finish it. I admit that there’s some boring ones. But, once I pick them up, I have to finish them. Currently reading at least a few pages before bedtime so I can finish it, get it over with and never look at it again.

    • I used to be like that too. I mean I’m almost 30 and I’ve only ever not finished 5 books, and most of them were in the last 12 months. 😉

      As it stands right now, I often have too many pressing things to devote my time to that I find I just can’t push myself to read it if I truly don’t like it.

  3. Typos are my main issue. If I find typos in the first few pages, or bad grammar I put the book down (I’m a very unforgiving reader!) My time is so precious to me that I can’t waste it on badly written books…

  4. I’ve never given up on a book, no matter how long it took me to read or how dull. There was Jaws (Saw the movie first, of course) which is UNBELIEVABLY boring. Spielberg took all the best bits, believe me. I even slogged my way through Les Miserables, and that took a long time and desperately needed editing. There’s a page and a half description of a gap in a wall a character is looking through, for instance.

    Some books I can see are just written for the big screen. The Lost World, the sequel to Jurassic Park is one such book; you certainly get the impression that Michael Crichton was writing it with a movie in mind.

    There are surprises to be had even in the dullest books. I just finished Little Women – a book about nothing if ever there was one – and the sequel was included (Good Wives) which was great. If I’d given up, I would never have got that far.

    War and Peace is another example. The first 300 pages are quite hard going, but after that it starts to fly.

    No, I never give up on a book, but now I have the internet voice to tell people exactly what I thought about it.

    • I used to be like you Tony, a lot of people were shocked that I could read as much as I do and not come across a book I couldn’t finish.

      Up until very recently, my couldn’t finish shelf only had two books on it (Dexter and Wicked), now a few more have joined their ranks, but the percentage out of the books I read is still very low.

  5. The main issue for me is if the book is about a topic I do not have a lot of knowledge about and the author writes in a way that they expect you to know what they are talking about..I lose interest and find it too hard to read.

  6. The worst is when you read something published and think: “I can write much better than this.” Then you fall into a depression because you have no excuse but sheer laziness for not getting off your bum and writing…or maybe it’s just me…

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