For the last few years, I’ve been changing my reading habits to try and force myself to:
- Read widely
- Read fiction
- Read classics
The reason I wanted to do this was that I was finding that I tended to be influenced by others in my network who were reading the same books which were usually the top sellers by the latest guru in entrepreneurship, business and productivity. Something had to give as the books were really making me feel more empty than inspired.
I have written a lot on this blog about my reading journey and the different Goodreads Challenges over the years that I have undertaken which have motivated me towards my reading goals however there are a few things for me – when it comes to books – that I simply can’t move on from.
That is, “when do you stop reading a book?”
In the past, I used to force myself to read books that I started. I would spend reading some pages every day just to get through it but I would find every reason to procrastinate picking it up. However, I have now changed my tune someone.
I’m far more ready to give up a book if:
- I don’t look forward to picking it up every day and reading it
- I don’t get immediately immersed into the story
- I deliberately choose other books to read
- I don’t make time for reading it every day
- It depresses me when looking at it (it taunts and torments me)
When Do I Give Up Reading a Book?
If I’m Not Into It By 20 Pages
You’re probably thinking, “that soon?”
Well, it depends on some factors which I’ll explain below.
My good friend Jasmine mentioned to me over a cup of coffee that there’s a specific formula based on your age. Using that in my circumstance means that I have to read a book until page 51.
However, this rule doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t take into account the size of the book.
My assumption is that this rule works for current books – mainly fiction – which are usually large tomes of up to 400 pages at the most. Today’s novels are HUGE compared to the books of the past. I think it’s also because of the way they’re printed on thicker paper, font size and spacing is larger too.
Which leads me to the second reason I would give up a book.
Too Many Words
When an author spends so much time setting the scene, using lots of adjectives and painting the picture for us that it doesn’t allow my brain to ‘fill in the gaps’, then I tend to switch off.
I am put off by long chapters that are unbroken with paragraphs of dialogue that just describe the scene because I feel the author is disrespecting us as their readers. I like to be in some intrigue initially and that means allowing my brain to have questions.
“What will happen?”
“Who is this person?”
“Why are they focussed on that action?”
The best authors I have found are the ones who REMOVE words and instead allow us to fill in the scene and the story in our heads.
A few authors who do this particularly well are Ray Carver, JD Salinger and Ernest Hemingway. For me, the mark of a brilliant writer is if they can do that.
There’s No Sentence Structure
The third reason as to why I would give up a book is if it deliberately defies rules of writing such as grammar rules or lack of commas and full stops. I understand what the author is trying to do and vary the style of the book to be something else – like a poem or prose however, my intention as a reader is to read it like a book. I would need to try and change my intention forcing myself to change how I approach it and already, I’ve started the book in a negative manner.
Everyone Else Is Reading It
Alarm bells tend to ring for me when it seems that many people are reading the same book and sharing their reviews. It adds to the pressure of you having to go against the grain if people raved about the book and you didn’t find the book that interesting at all which for me, happens a lot.
I Dread Picking Up the Book
This is a big one for me. If I see the book on my bedside drawer and when I’m looking forward to jumping into bed and I see the book, my heart sinks a bit. When I throw back the covers and walk to the other room to choose another book off the shelf, that’s a sure sign that it’s not meant to be read. Life is too short to have my love of reading and loungeing around in bed DESTROYED by this author. No thank you.
If It Doesn’t Speak to Me
This is a tough one to explain. Some books simply have themes, characters, stories that immediately resonate with me to the point of obsession. I seek out these books but the beauty of these books is that you never know where it will come from. These are the books that are so rare, so deep and meaningful just to you (you don’t care what everyone else thinks) that they change you in some way. They open your heart and your mind. You view the world in a different way – they put you in another cognitive state and the worst thing?
Well, the worst thing is that when you finish the book, you sigh and you just wish you could still have been reading it.
I read JD Salinger’s book The Catcher In The Rye for the first time and it moved me so much that I became obsessed by it. I didn’t want it to finish so I read it again after I read it the first time. A few months later, I read it a third time. I carried the book in my handbag for months afterwards just to have a little bit of Holden Caulfield near me. In my head, I WAS Holden Caulfield.
Another book that got me to this state is Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. Oh my lord, what a book!
So there you have it.
These are some of the main reasons why I would stop reading a book and ultimately it goes with HOW IT MAKES ME FEEL INSTANTLY in the first pages through a sense of intrigue, awe, curiosity and a connection with the characters in some way. If any of the above put my brain into a more ‘stressed’ state then it’s likely I will not read it.
Of course there are books that break ALL the above rules and I have read them from start to finish but they’re usually books that are SO different because they break all the rules of everything I hold dear to my life and values. I don’t like to read these books often because they simply just offend me.
More Posts I Have Written about Books
Here’s some more reading about books I have written: