How to Know When it’s Time to Quit a Book

If you follow me at all, you know I’m a huge advocate of DNF-ing books. In fact, I’m a big fan of quitting anything in life that isn’t serving me. Although whether it’s a job or a new hobby or a book, quitting is almost always easier said than done.

So when it comes to books, here’s my best advice for how to know it’s time to set it aside.

How to Know When it’s Time to Quit a Book

Photo by Ella Deane on Unsplash

You aren’t eager to pick it up.

You know that feeling when you’re loving a book and you hate to part with it? You think about it all day, counting down the hours until you can read again. Well, this is not that! The opposite experience is this: when it’s time to read, you’re hesitant to pick up your book. You do something else instead of reading. If you aren’t eager to pick it up, don’t! That means it’s time to let it go and move on to something else you’ll love.

You’d rather scroll on your phone.

When I find myself popping back and forth between my social media apps: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, then I know I’m probably procrastinating on something important. Sometimes that’s sending an email or folding the laundry. Similarly, I find myself on my phone way more when I’m currently reading a book that I’m not into.

You’re skimming.

If I love a book, I’m eager to take in every word. I want to follow everything that’s happening. When I’m bored and/or desperate to get through, I scan the pages quickly. If you’re doing this, that book isn’t worth your valuable reading time. This is a lesson I’m still learning!

You don’t care about the characters or plot.

This is one of the big signs for me that I should quit a book. I’m more of a character driven reader than plot driven. I want to connect with the characters and care about them. If I dislike all the characters, I can’t keep going. If I don’t care about the choices they’re making, or don’t care about what happens to them, this isn’t a book for me.

Likewise, if you’re a plot driven reader yet you’re disinterested in what happens next, that’s not a book for you. If there’s no twist in the world that would redeem the book in your eyes, put it down.

My general rule for quitting books is this: if you don’t like a book, you don’t have to read it.

There’s no need to force yourself. Even if it was a gift, or it’s a book club pick, or any other number of reasons us readers cling to books way past when we should.

Another reason your should quit? The sweet relief that comes when you finally let yourself off the hook!


1 Comment

  1. Saturday Miscellany—3/27/21 – The Irresponsible Reader

    March 27, 2021 at 11:19 am

    […] of a Reading Slump: What to do when you just can’t seem to work up the motivation to read. How to Know When it’s Time to Quit a Book In Defense of Kvothe: A Candid Look at a Divisive Character—it’s odd that such a beloved […]

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