Have you ever put a book down and thought, why am I reading this? What possible reason do I have to keep reading? Why am I making such an effort for something I am not enjoying? Only to pick it back up and struggle onward to the end.
Well I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to finish the book. It is okay to want to stop reading something. Not every single book that you read is going to be one you enjoy – it is okay to put the book down.
Abandon it, I say!
All jokes aside, the below list contains five reasons to stop reading a book. Think of them as warning signs that on your journey through a book, might indicate to you that hey, you might not want to finish this book.
1. You don’t want to read the book.
Life is too short for books that you don’t want to read. Don’t let yourself think that because a book is a classic, or because it is a best seller that you need to read it. You don’t.
You shouldn’t pick up something purely because you feel like or have been made to feel like, you should. If you read a blurb on a book and think, oh that doesn’t interest me, then that doesn’t interest you. Don’t let the reviews or hype of something sway you from your own feelings.
Sure, sometimes you may misjudge something and surprise yourself by enjoying it. But if you find yourself half way through a book you’ve been made to feel like you should read, and you’re hating it – Put it down.
Never feel obligated to finish books.
2. The book is boring.
If you’re reading a book and you’re not engaged, maybe you should stop reading. Chances are if you’re not engaged now, you won’t be later. No brilliantly written climax is worth 200 pages of disinterest.
I will offer this trick that I often tell people. If you’re finding yourself bored while reading a book you otherwise thought you would be interested in, skip a head a bit. If you can have a quick peek a few chapters ahead and while skimming, you’re suddenly engaged with the story and writing, pop back to where you were and keep reading. By using this trick, at least you know the story gets better.
For those of you who are interested, this is how I made it through the Fellowship of the Ring. The start is so slow and boring, however I knew I wanted to read the book, I loved fantasy and wanted to read the book before the movie (I am aging myself here I realise). By skipping ahead ten chapters I realised that, hey the books gets better, and was able to go back and finish the book. And then the series. And then The Hobbit. And the list goes on.
Do yourself a favour and if you find yourself yawning, dozing off, or just staring off into space while reading a book – consider putting it down.
3. The book is poorly written or edited.
Nothing makes me want to stop reading a book quicker than a vague writing style or typos. I will be the first to tell you that I didn’t finish Wicked by Gregory Maguire and that it was all because of his vague writing style. I was lucky that I was able to put down that book, however with Maguire’s other book, Confessions of an Ugly Step Sister, it was a mandatory text for my HSC and unfortunately I had to read to the end.
Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of people who absolutely love Maguire – but just not me. I will admit that he creates a very compelling story, however his execution leaves much to be desired. It was a tough decision to stop reading Wicked because I am a big fan of the musical but in the end I wasn’t enjoying the book, so I put it down.
An extension of this poorly written idea, is the presence of typos or grammatical errors. Seeing typos, incorrect words, unfinished sentences, additional (potentially undeleted) words in sentences, and other by the looks of them wrong parts of a book, can challenge the enjoyment of a book.
*It should be noted that by grammatical errors, I mean incorrect usages, poor sentence structure, tense changes mid sentence, sentence fragments, or amateur punctuation use!!!!!!?!?!?@!!?
I do not mean the types of spelling errors associated with books published outside of the US. If a book has UK or AUS English and features words like Mum, favour, realise, then the publishing country should be taken into consideration. The same goes for US English books, just because the words are obviously spelt wrong, doesn’t mean I have to put the book down in a huff.*
I can forgive a book a lot but when something has been published through a publisher, it should at least have the basics down. If you find yourself rolling your eyes or noticing that the errors are affecting how you are interacting with the book, you could potentially stand to stop reading.
We’re not complete monsters though, if you’re reading a self published or a small independent publisher book, then you can stand to be a little bit more lenient. It all comes down to if you’re engaged with a book and the characters, if you are then you can probably throw them a bone and keep reading despite the issues. However, if you’re not engaged and the errors keep pulling you away from the story, then maybe it’s time to give up. Who knows, maybe the second edition of the book will be better edited?
4. Negative ‘ism’s by an author.
There are a lot of different ‘ism’s’ that can included in here but just for the record they may include, racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, anti-Semitism, and any type hate speak.
A line has to be drawn between story telling and hate speech. There is a big difference between when an author is exploring a topic, describing a characters experience, or even portraying a character who believes in the above isms, and when an author is writing a thinly veiled message of hate.
If you are reading a book and you can tell the difference between the two, then if the content is making you uncomfortable, it might be time to put the book down.
5. It’s just not your thing (the nope tropes).
Nope Tropes. I hope you enjoy that little rhyming phrase – I know I do. As a reader you may find yourself shying away from certain aspects of story telling. If could be a genre that you’re not the biggest fan of, a plot device, or you could dislike certain types of characters.
Everybody is different and everybody enjoys different books, however if something happens in a book that makes you uncomfortable, makes you needlessly anxious, or just infuriates you, take a moment and think, is this my nope trope?
For example, I dislike reading about doormat characters (people who let others walk all over them), and cannot stand when in romance novel a character cheats. The different between the two previous examples are that while I dislike doormat characters I can stand to read a book with one in it. However if I am reading a romance novel, and a character cheats or has sex with another person outside of the romantic interest, I am done with the book. 100% done.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to the Nope Trope*.
Take a minute to think about some of the things that make you stop reading a book, are they related? Can you connect them? Are you starting to see a pattern? If yes, you’re potentially found a nope trope of your own.
Next time you’re reading a book and you stumble upon on of these nope tropes, if you haven’t already put the book down, think to yourself, are these feelings worth it? Why continue reading a book that has something you dislike so much in it?
I’m here to tell you, you shouldn’t. Put the book down and stop reading.
Hopefully this post has given you a new perspective on the decision to stop reading a book. You should never feel like you have to read a book, reading should be an act of enjoyment. You should enjoy yourself, and if you’re not, then you should maybe stop.
Life is too short for you to finish books you dislike. Remember you don’t have to read or finish every book.
*©™Patent pending 😛