3 Reasons to Quit the Book You’re Reading
I was texting with a friend about the box of books I sent him last week. He said they are motivating him to finally finish the novel he’s been reading for…well I’ll just say it’s been quite a while now. I said, “You’re still slogging thought that one?” I suspected he may not like it, so I suggested he quit and start something he might like more.
My friend’s response was: “I forget that’s an option”! He explained the book’s style is compelling but the content is quite violent and that’s a bit much for him right now.
My immediate response was to tell him how I started a book last week and quit about 30 pages in because the characters were Russian and one of them is named Vladimir. I can’t handle that theme in my fiction right now, I’m bombarded with it in reality! I’m sure it’s a well written novel, it’s gotten a lot of buzz, but I simply don’t want to read it right now. And that’s reason enough to quit.
Sure, sometimes I feel pressure to finish a book I don’t like. I usually don’t give into it. I’ve written in the past about my strong belief in quitting books I don’t like. In fact, I think anybody should quit anything they don’t like!
So if you’re in the middle of a book right now that you’re not loving, think about why, and know these reasons are only a few ways to summarize why it’s totally okay to quit!
3 Reasons to Quit the Book You’re Reading
1. It’s boring.
Yes, you are allowed to quit boring books. You’re also allowed to keep reading them if you want. Sometimes non-fiction can be a bit dry or historical fiction can be dense. There are times it’s worth powering through because you’ll learn something or get to a better part of the story. If you’re bored to death and not getting anything out of the book, set it aside.
2. It’s upsetting you.
Sometimes things going on in your life might not be at the forefront of your mind, yet when you encounter certain content you’re triggered in some way. This happened to me recently with The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah. I’d bee looking forward to reading it, heard great things, and then realized the theme of PTSD and domestic violence was going to bother me so I quit.
3. You don’t like it.
This is a broad category, and technically it includes numbers 1 and 2.This one’s pretty broad, I know. But I want you to stop and seriously consider this for a moment: if you don’t like a book for any reason, you can stop reading. In fact, you should stop reading. Timing is a huge factor in having a positive reading experience. Not every book is created to appeal to every reader all the time. You don’t have to use the Q word, consider it hitting pause on the book, you can always come back to it.
As a writer myself, I can promise you, I wouldn’t want anyone to force themselves to read something I wrote. I suspect most authors feel the same way.
I understand there are extenuating circumstances that cause readers to power through something they don’t enjoy, so here’s my advice for those questions:
What if it’s a selection for your book club?
I wrote about this exact situation when I faced it with Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. If you’re struggling with this, go read that post. Otherwise, my advice in a nutshell is: give it your best shot, show up for the discussion even if you quit the book, be honest with your club members.
What if the book was a gift or lent to you and the giver is waiting to hear back?
This has happened to me in both directions. In fact I recently lent a close friend a new novel I devoured and thought she would too. She didn’t. She slogged through. She was honest with me about not loving it like I did, and that’s totally okay. Similarly, my sister-in-law once lent me the first of one of her all time favorite series, hoping I’d be hooked. It was definitely not my jam and I said so. I pointed out the parts of the book I liked, and we had a nice discussion. She was bummed I didn’t want to read more, but she didn’t hold it against me.
What if you know the person who wrote the book?
This is a tough one. Again, I say give it your best shot. Skimming is totally acceptable. Then give your honest feedback with kindness.
I hope you find this advice helpful when you realize you don’t love the book you’re reading. Some people say life is too short to read books you don’t like. I think life is too long to spend time doing anything that doesn’t bring you some amount of happiness!
As always, I want to hear from you. Do you quit books or stay the course? And why do you make that choice?