Quitting on a Read

(Jennifer D.) #1

Hi all!!

Currently, I am reading a book that has had me near to quitting a few times. (Though I am now past the ¾ mark, so I am seeing this one through! :smile: )

So I am very curious: at what point will you quit on a read? Has quitting on a book changed at all over the course of your reading life?

It's very rare for me to quit on a book if it's not going well. I hold out hope that things will turn around, and my enjoyment will improve. I often have people tell me 'life' too short for bad books', and that I shouldn't worry so much on giving up on a read. So far, though, I haven't been able to embrace this very well.

I would love to hear about what you do when you are experiencing a disappointing book.


(Megan Haskell) #2

Ooh...this is a good topic!

There was a time in my life when it was rare, near unheard of, for me to quit on a book. I felt like I owed the author, or perhaps the story, just in case it turned around.

Now, I have two young daughters, and the only time I have to read is right before I fall asleep. If I get tired of reading before I'm tired enough to sleep, the book is being dropped. I try to give every book a couple of chapters or a few nights, but in the end, I need something to entertain and unhook my brain. Without that, I just don't have the time or patience to keep reading.

(Olivier Bosman) #3

I don't like quitting on a book. I will, however, often put a book aside with the intention of finishing or re-reading it later, when I'm more in the mood for it. (Of course, I don't always go back to the book, so I guess it's the same as quitting, but it feels different. :smile: )

(Jennifer D.) #4

I do this as well, @Olivier_Bosman. If I do set a book down, I tend to feel it's just the timing of the read, or my mood and that things may be better at another time. So it's set aside with the intention of returning to it 'one day'. I don't tend to do this too often either, but I agree with you - it does feel different from quitting a book completely and forever.

(Jennifer D.) #5

Same, @Megan_Haskell!! I feel like I do a fairly good job selecting books of interest to me - I do a good bit of legwork before adding a book to my TBR list, so that my list - though long - isn't just 'all the books, ever!' :smile: . It's always such a bummer to feel disappointed in a read.

(Janelle Ludowise) #6

Ooh, good topic @Jennifer_Dawson!

I used to never quit books. Even if I really didn't like it, I would push through to the end. But sometime within the past five or so years, my attitude has changed. I still rarely quit books, but if it's really not holding my interest or perhaps if it says something that I strongly disagree with, I'll put it down.

The best example I can think of is when I was recently re-reading Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle. This was one of my favorite books when I was a kid and I found it at a used book sale and decided to read it again as an adult. But viewing it through adult eyes, I realized that I was very uncomfortable with the book's portrayal of women. One line especially made me so angry that I put the book down right there and that was that.

I do this a lot too! Definitely feels different than totally quitting on a book. I call it putting a book "on pause." For example, I've paused reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay for the moment. I still really like the book and I fully intend on finishing it, but I've had a very busy summer and didn't have as much time/time to focus on a longer, heavier read. Sometimes I put a book on pause for only a few weeks, sometimes it gets set aside for much longer.

(Kate Minckler) #7

I couldn't agree more with Olivier! It's somehow only acceptable for me to leave a book unfinished if I tell myself I'll come back to it. I've realised it even affects how I categorize things on Riffle! So I won't mark a book as read if I didn't get all the way to the end - but maybe I should if I'm finished with it? I left off reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods about this time last year (I loved the beginning but got really bogged down where the plot slows half-way through the book) - and I still have it as "currently reading" on Riffle in the hopes one day I'll pick it up again? But maybe I'm just fooling myself!

(Jennifer D.) #8



Hi @Janelle_Ludowise!

So, did this make you sad? I have purposefully stayed away from books I loved as a child... except for Harriet the Spy, which held up really well - thank goodness! :smile:

(Hayley at RatherTooFondofBooks) #9

I would say I never consciously give up on a book but these days I always have more than one book on the go at once (usually 3 or 4) so if a book isn't grabbing my attention it tends to get left to one side and very occasionally it never gets picked up again. I made it to my New Year's resolution this year to give up on books that I really wasn't enjoying but I still struggle to do it. I often skim read to the end just to see what happens rather than intentionally just giving up on a book. I don't like to think I might have missed a redeeming moment in a book!

(Neil Baptista) #10

So, we were thinking of adding the status of "Abandoned" but in this case you would prefer "Unfinished" :smile:

(Sigrid ) #11

I Do Not Finish books all the time. Sometimes my review is just DNF. I read fiction for entertainment and if I'm not being entertained, I quit. I will admit that I tend to buy unknown authors at $3 or below or take them out of the library and have no qualms about giving up on authors who can't keep my interest.

My Kindle library setting is 7 days, so if I thought it was okay, but didn't get through it in 7 days, I tend to put DNF in my review.

(Sigrid ) #12

I loved Gone with the Wind as a young girl. I read and reread it a gazillion times. I stared in the mirror until I discovered my eyes were as green as Scarlett O'Hara's.

I can't read it any more; the racism makes me sick. And I've stopped objecting when my husband says my eyes are gray.

(Jennifer D.) #13

While it doesn't happen often for me, and there are not a lot of books on it, I have a shelf named 'DNF' (did not finish) - which, in my mind, leaves things open for me to return to them at some point, over outright and total abandonment. :smile:

(Justin Robinson) #14

I tend not to quit on books, because I hold out the hope that some major twist will hit me in the last chapter or two and make the rest of the book worthwhile. Sometimes that pays out, more often it doesn't =P

(The Reading Hedgehog) #15

In general, I will give a book 50 pages in before I'll consider DNFing it. Depending on the length of the book, once I'm 100 pages in, I'll either DNF or commit to finishing it (unless it's like 200 pages, in which case I'm finishing it). Once I'm past that 100-page mark, though, I'll generally finish a book unless I just can't bring myself to get through it. I'm finding it easier and easier every time to DNF a book as the years pass and I just want to clear out my shelves and move on to something I'll like. What's the point in wasting time with a book I don't like? There's too many to read! Before, though, DNFing was out of the question for me; I hated the idea of not finishing something I started.

(Christa Guild) #16

I'm currently considering quitting on The Group by Mary McCarthy. It's seriously dense and isn't holding my attention, but also I'm in my senior year at Vassar right now so I feel like it's the perfect time to read it. I guess I could just put it down for the time being and come back to it at some point!

(Lynette) #17

The first time I can recall not finishing a book was for a world history course in college. I started it 3 times and by the time I hit page 15 threw it across the room, very nearly taking out my roommate the last time. I went to my professor, also my concentration advisor, and said I'm sorry, I just can't do it, the man is a moron.

Fast forward a couple of years, I rolled into my office muttering about the book I was reading. After several days, a friend asked me why I was continuing to read it if it was so horrible. I looked at him like he was from Mars. Not finish a book. That was not who I was.

Over the last couple of years I've been doing quite a bit of experimental reading and I've finally learned how to leave a book behind. Most of the time it's because the story just doesn't capture my imagination. Leaving a book behind is still not an easy thing for me to do, but with so much wonderful literature to be read I'm learning to better curate my literary travels.

There is one book that still haunts me. Every once in a while I have this eerie feeling of something unfinished. I was nearly finished with it when it was stolen out of my gym locker a number of years ago. I've tried several times to locate another copy, but alas, have yet to find it.

(BookBroad) #18

What book went missing?

(Lynette) #19

In the Days of McKinley by Margaret Leech -- a well written biography of one of our lesser known Presidents.

(BookBroad) #20