Thoughts: Unfinished books

I used to never be able to leave a book unfinished (unless it was for school). No matter how boring or infuriating it was, I had to finish it. Looking back, I'm not sure why I was compelled to do so. With time I learned that life is too short and time too precious to spend it on reading books I do not want to read (unless it's for school. Funny how this change as you get older).

There are several reasons why I would decide to abandon a book midway, but I must say first that I always try to give the book a fair chance. I like to read at least half of it before deciding to leave it aside or not. I tend to be very specific about the books I read, and I must admit, not always adventurous, so that it's actually fairly rare that I come across a book that I do not want to finish. Most of the time they are not even bad books, just, you know, not-for-me books. Books that bore me, or books that are dissapointing somehow, have a great chance of being abandon unless they are very short. I haven't come across many books that make me angry, or that I feel insult my intelligence as a (female) human being, but it does happen. Those don't get much of a chance.

Most of the time, though, I leave a book behind when I cannot connect to its characters and/or plot.
Take the book The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June (pictured) that I just abandoned. The writing wasn't bad, nor was the plot (although not much had happened yet), but it did annoy me a lot (I could not find anything entertaining in the almost constant banter/fighting between the three sisters). I acknowledge that this was purely personal. There wasn't any big issues like blatant sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. that would make me close the book almost immediately, it was just that it didn't retained my attention. I couldn't care about the charaters or about what happened to them. That said I must say that the author showed real talent in crafting rapid and dynamic dialogues. I would actually even go as far enough as to recommend this book, or at least tell people to try it out.
It therefore made me think a bit about the reasons we choose to finish a book or not. I feel that sometimes, it's not even a choice, I HAVE to finish certain books, that there is no way I am doing anything else before I turn that last page. Those are the best books of all.

So, what about you? Do you finish all of the books you start? What are the reasons you have to continue or stop reading a book?


  1. I've actually read The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June. I liked some aspects and it did make me laugh at parts but it wasn't really for me either. (I never logged it on goodreads, for some reason...)

    Since I come from a very conservative/Christian background the reasons I stop reading a book are if it has numerous, graphic sex scenes and A LOT of strong language. Though, if I'm really invested in the story I will just cringe through all the bad language. And I will skim at least one *ahem* sketchy scene but if there's much more than that I probably don't want to be reading it anyway.

    If a book is boring me, on the other hand, I tell myself to suck it up and finish it anyways. Sometimes I'll just skim the rest of the book so I can pretend I read the whole thing. ;)

    So, generally I finish the books I start. There are exceptions, though. (And then there are the books I started and meant to finish that are now languishing around the house.....)

  2. I'm quite relaxed about not finishing books. I read patiently until page 100, and if it still hasn't managed to hook me, I abandon it in search of better quarry.

    The books that I physically can't put down are the best, but unfortunately rare.

  3. Great question! My general policy is to always finish a book, no matter how painful (that sounds horrible, but yes). I do, like you, choose books from the area of the written world that I know is up my alley, so oftentimes it's not difficult to finish a book.

    Where I run into trouble is either 1) I'm so busy with reading a book for school, that I have to put it down and pray I'll finish it at a later time. I've had to do that twice now this semester and it bothers me.

    2) A book gets to technical for me. That's why I usually stay away from science fiction or cyberpunk, etc. Robots (unless they appear as interesting, quirky characters) are only interesting if they exist in a steampunk or equally odd world. Technology in general is boring to me if it's the focus. That's why I can't seem to finish a Jules Verne book, even though I admire him greatly.

  4. When I was younger, I HAD to finish every book I started. There were no exceptions, even if I hated where a book was going. I've since developed a similar mindset to you, though.

    I will stop reading a book if a character is too much for me to handle. Normally if they are racist, sexist, anything horrible ... it makes it difficult for me to connect with the character.

    Though it is rare, I will stop reading a book partway through ... though I almost always pick it up again a few months later! The thought of the poor book just sitting there ... alone ... I dunno, it makes me sad! I start thinking that I didn't give the book a fighting chance. Guilt!