What makes you abandon a book?

When do you give up on a book? What makes you roll your eyes and stop reading? Have you ever thrown a book across the room?

Tell me what drives you to abandon a book. Is it mediocre writing? A meandering plot? No discernable plot? Strident politics? Sexism? Racism? Cardboard characters? Characters who act endlessly, ridiculously stupid? An ending that dribbles to nothing?

I’ve abandoned books for all those reasons. I’ve grumbled and snarled and pitched novels against the wall.

How about you?

(Yes, I am cribbing this topic shamelessly from Chuck Wendig’s blog at Terribleminds.)

18 responses to “What makes you abandon a book?

  1. I’d say all of the above, but the one that does it fastest is poor writing. If it feels awkward or weird, DONE. I’m sort of a reading snob, I have high standards.

  2. I mentioned this on Terribleminds too, but it’s when something is painfully obvious to the reader, and has been for chapters, but a character is still hand-wringing. At that point the character’s doubt stops being genuine and starts just being a writer trying to shoehorn conflict into the story, actual plot be damned.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever actually thrown a book against a wall, but I’ve certainly abandoned more than I’ve read. Sometimes it’s the lack of simple proofreading; sometimes the characters are really annoying. What’s really unforgivable is boredom–but what bores me may be someone else’s idea of a literary gem!

  4. I’m a squirrel. Dangle something shiny anywhere in my vicinity and I’m gone. I swear I was the inspiration for the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and all of it’s renditions. I wasn’t always this way. My synapses are wearing support hose and wheezing.

  5. its renditions. Its. It’s late; I’m tired…ooo a gummy bear stuck to my pillow. yum. cherry.

  6. Whew! So glad you came back to fix that, Dana Jean. For a moment I was pulled out of the narrative and I almost abandoned the comment.

  7. I am guided by two mantras:
    So many books, so little time.
    Life’s too short to read bad books.

    Too many characters thrown at me in the first few chapters. I even abandoned a book by a long-time writer I’ve always liked when the protagonist arrived at a conference in ch 1, and the author wanted us to know about every single person in attendance: name, family history, personal problems. After about 2 dozen, I just gave up.

    But mostly, I give up when I realise I don’t give a poop about the characters and their lives. (The furthest in this occurred was when I simply woke up to the fact that the protagonist, who’d been on a downward spiral from the start, was not going to turn his life around in the last 30 pages.)

  8. I’m pretty tolerant for most books even those I find terminally average. I do have limits however. Although as a rule I feel the longer a book the better, two exceptions come to mind. After plowing through almost 50 pages of john Galt’s sermon in Atlas shrugged, I had to put it down and never went back. Too much talking about minutiae. The other one was Infinite Jest. After more than 500 pages of this thousand page tome, I was still unable to find a plot. I finally donated it to Goodwill although I can’t claim there was much in the way of Good Will in my gift.

  9. First book I ever threw was The Andromeda Strain. Such a cop-out ending! At the tender age of 14, I hurled the book against the wall. Most recent, Honeymoon, by Robert Patterson. That sailed out a window in Hawaii. Most of Dan Brown’s books are toss-worthy, in terms of writing, but he often grabs me with the ridiculous story. However, Digital Fortress was heaved.

    For the most part, I can’t stand books where the character looks in a mirror, a la Dan Brown’s protagonist, and sees himself and describes himself: with his brown hair streaked with just enough gray to make college co-eds weak-kneed, etc. (yes, I am paraphrasing here). Gag. Weak and lazy writing doesn’t deserve to be read.

    • I agree with Ann on the bad writing part. I like Dan Brown’s plot ideas but I hate the repetition. I’ve just started Inferno and already have become completely annoyed at how many times he describes something (anything) as “some kind of”. It shows laziness. TV writers do the same thing but I don’t expect high class writing abilities from them.

  10. I already agreed with everything Dawkins was saying.

  11. I have put a few books down when the female protagonist in a thriller out of the blue has a long sex scene with another woman. This is not because of any personal feeling about GLBT relationships. Every time this has happened it was in a book written by a male writer and the character was straight up to that point. I wonder if the author really thinks that when a woman’s life is at risk she is going to take time out to experiment with her sexuality.

  12. As one who will read cereal boxes and phone books (yes, they still exist!) when other sources for a textual fix are unavailable, it isn’t often that I abandon a book. However, inconsistent voice (narrative and/or in dialogue) drives me nuts (get in the groove and let the character speak) and clunky plot (take your hand out of that Lego box-o-plot-components) will cause me to bestow my readerly favours elsewhere.

    Ann, I am in awe of your book-lobbing. The only one I can think of is my venerable, hardcover complete works of Milton. The corners are all mashed from the number of times it has been flung across the room in a rage. Hmmm, I guess sexism needs to go on the list, even if the writing is entirely admirable.

  13. I think for me it’s mostly when the characters bore me or I don’t care about what happens to them. I have on occasion plowed through because I either really wanted to like the book, or kept hoping something good would happen to engage me.
    I have a colleague who has a 100 page rule, if she doesn’t like it by then the book is tossed.

    • 100 pages is generous.

      • I agree, I usually stop well before then and if I make it to the 100 page mark it usually means I’m emjoying it or too stubborn to give up, hahahaha! There have been a few instances where I’m glad I stuck with it though.
        BTW, slightly off-topic, but do any of you ever start reading a book, and a couple of pages in you know you are going to love this book, but this is not the right time to read it, so you put it away for that other time? I’ve done that a couple of times, not a lot, but
        I had it with Memoires of a
        Geisha, Life of Pi and Anna Karenina.
        I was talking about this with friends a while back and they all looked at me like I was mad.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s