When to Drop a Bad Book

I have trouble quitting. I always have, always will and I’m glad I do. But that makes it hard to discard even the worst books before I flip the last page. I’m currently about halfway through a SciFy novel by an unknown author and I simply am not enjoying it. The plot is engaging but I’m not excited to sit down with the book. Every time I pick it up, I think, Okay, let’s get through this so I can read something else.old book

Life is short and there are millions of books I will never get the chance to read in my lifetime, so why am I still reading this weak  SciFy novel?

I’m hesitant to put it down because I know there is something I can learn from it. Besides the fact that the book is way more detailed than I prefer, I can’t put my finger on a good reason for my dislike for the book. I keep going down the list of things I typically pick on in fiction: weak and inconsistent characters, too quick and convenient of a plot, bad writing, ect. Although the writing is not excellent, it is better some YA novels I’ve read lately. The author lays everything out a bit too cleanly (often more wordy than necessary) but the plot keeps moving forward at a good pace. The characters are round and unique but they’re not capturing my attention. The SciFi aspects are strange and working well with the story but the world as a whole doesn’t make sense to me.

I read for two reasons: 1) because I enjoy it and 2) because I want to absorb as much as possible to improve my own writing. If I toss this book aside, I won’t learn what not to do in my own writing.

So I guess the answer for when to put down a bad book, is once I’ve learned something from it.

 

How quickly do you toss a book out that is not capturing your attention?

Have you come across this dilemma lately? What did you do? 

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About Sarah JS

Aspiring writer, lover of words, book nerd, working editor, and permanent student of the world

Posted on February 13, 2014, in A Writer's Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I have to say that I have this same problem. I find it really hard to “officially” quit a book, even when I know what I don’t like about it and I know I’m not enjoying it.

    I think my problem comes back from knowing too many of those people who can finish a book no matter what. It makes me feel like I have to be that way too, when I’m just not. I’m envious of those folks who can force themselves through reading even the worst books.

  2. I recently read Absurdistan and hated it after about fifty pages but kept with it hoping it would get better. It didn’t but I had to finish it. Not that it felt like that came from the book. It came from me being stubborn. Maybe next time I might just give up, but I did learn stuff from it and that’s the problem. I wish I could see I’m getting nothing out of it, but I can’t

  3. I think I always just read on because I hope it will get better. So many books have a weak beginning but a really awesome ending, and I always feel like I’d miss out on something potentially really great if I quit a book in the beginning/half way through.

  4. I love this post! I really try my hardest to not quit a book because I know that if I do, based on my history, I’ll never open it back up again. Anyway, I like your perspective on this 🙂

  1. Pingback: Pros and Cons of Reading Multiple Books at Once | Glass Typewriter

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