When to stop reading?

I’m an avid reader, but when do you stop reading a book? How do you decide that it’s just not the story, or characters, or writing for you and close it up and never pick it back up again?

I can admit that, sometimes, when I expect to struggle I carry on reading regardless. I had to accept that this would be the case with Middlemarch, which I recently finished reading. The language and sentence structure and general style of writing was so different in the nineteenth century. But once I got past the first hundred pages, I was hooked.

I ended up adoring this book, unwieldy and complex as it was!

I’ve tried some Ebooks too – by new authors – in an attempt to support my fellow emerging writers. But if there are spelling errors, or the point of view alters half way through a paragraph, or they contradict themselves within a few pages, then I have to give up. Irritability takes hold and I can no longer connect with a story, no matter how good it might have been.

However, I’m now reading a novel by an established author. There isn’t anything wrong with it as such, I just can’t quite get on with it. The characters are flat somehow, as though they have no depth because they are keeping things too close to their chests. Some of them are unlikable, such as the husband who refused his wife a chance at a career but took one for himself based on the conditions he told her were unaccepptable, not to mention that he blatantly cheats on her.

I was confused from the prologue, as from 2014 it jumped back to 1975 and currently I’ve just started a chapter from 1940. I’m less than fifty pages in. I don’t think it would be so bad if it was from a single character’s point of view, but there have been at least four: one of which, in the prologue, doesn’t even seem connected to the story!

I’m on the brink of removing my bookmark and moving onto another novel. But then I consider that this is a top bestselling author and there must be a good story here… somewhere. Yet, should I read it even if I don’t care about the characters whose story it is?

Published by Cat Lumb

Writer, Writing Coach, and Writing Workshop Facilitator

5 thoughts on “When to stop reading?

  1. I’ve never read Middlemarch before, but interested in trying one day.

    So I don’t know if you happen to be a fan of Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women)… but I’m hosting a reading challenge + giveaway in her honor on my blog this month. Do stop by if you’re interested!


    1. I LOVE Little Women! My first post of the year was all about how the BBC ruined the new drama by not having Jo’s pivotal proposal included.
      Will check out the challenge and giveaway tomorrow.
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  2. I really feel this. I’m spending so much time writing lately that my reading time is extra precious. I can’t afford to keep on wading through books that just aren’t doing it for me. So if I’m not literally dribbling on my tablet by page 30, I either save it for later if the writing itself is good, or get rid of it if it isn’t, or if I don’t think I’ll change my mind about it. The problems you mentioned are definitely top of my reasons to put a book down.

  3. Personally, I find it almost impossible to give up on a book and try to carry on if I can. One of the few I have given up on was Middlemarch although I keep thinking I should give it another go as George Eliot is so well respected.

    1. Strange how personal preference can have someone love a book while another hates it! I always used to get scoffed at for disliking Wuthering Heights, but felt I should’ve liked it because so many do!

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