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? 


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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