Stopping a Book Before you Finish


Photo Credit: Pretty in Fiction

I know more avid readers than I do this several times throughout the year. They pick up a book, whether by an author they know or one that is new to them, and never reach the final page. To me, this is a terrible feeling. Not because I feel bad for the author or the publisher or anyone involved, but because somewhere along the line I read the blurb or a review or something that helped me decide that this was a book I’d like to read. So I become disappointed that I made a wrong turn somewhere.

Let me tell you what typically makes me stop a book before I finish because it has happened a lot more recently than ever before. For the longest time I had only one or two books I’d started and stopped. I just did a quick check and I think that number is five now. Three happened this year! So what makes me stop reading a book? It’s boring. A book by one of my favorite authors that came out last year that was quite a bit different from his previous work had whole chapters of description. Whole 25-35 page chapters! What is that? The protagonist. I don’t think I’ve ever read any books in which I hated the protagonist, but there have been a few that made me just want to throw my book out the window. Not naming any, though. Pace. Now I’ve mentioned before that as a writer I know nothing about pacing. Well as a reader I think I’m more knowledgeable. I shouldn’t be nearly halfway through the work before knowing what the heck is going on. I want to know the conflict and I want to know it early on.

There is one other reason I might stop a book. If I’m just trying out a new author and I’m not hooked by the first 50-100 pages, then I might stop and grab something off my shelf by an author I know I like.

I think there have been five or six books I’ve started and never finished, and I still haven’t gone back to any of them.

So tell me, what makes you stop a book before finishing? And how often would you say it happens to you? I’m sure your reasons may be similar to mine, but maybe you have more.

205 thoughts on “Stopping a Book Before you Finish

  1. I don’t like to leave a book unfinished. I have forced my way through a good many. Until this year. I started reading a book and it was promising. I don’t even think I got half way through before I put it away. I was so aggravated with it that I almost threw my Kindle across the room just to get rid of the book. The story was very promising, but the author had so many mistakes that I just couldn’t bring myself to finish the book.
    I’m the same way with series books. If I have read the first one I will plow through the rest of them. Again, this year I came across a series that I couldn’t finish. I read the first book and I didn’t want to put myself through the torture of finishing the series.

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  2. Books have to be well written. If a book is not well written I will not finish it. I recently bought a book at a thrift store by a very well-known author and read maybe two chapters before deciding I wasn’t going to finish it. I’m not going to name names, but the book was terribly written. It sounded like something a middle school kid would write.


  3. I don’t like to stop reading either. BUUUUT I’ve stopped reading two books recently. I just didn’t care. I didn’t care what happened to the characters and I didn’t care to see where the rest of the story was going.


  4. I stop reading a book if it doesn’t capture me. I was once reading a book at how to write a TV Pilot and I just stopped within 30 pages. It was dry, more like a textbook. I don’t even like reading them lol. I just read another book about freeing the writer from within and IT was very slow. It took me two months on and off to read. But, I understand the message now, pretty much to trust your writing, voice and have your own style. Now, I’m going to get my kindle and pick a new book to read. If I don’t like it, I won’t finish it. At least I supported by buying the book, right?


    • I’ve never believed in the whole “I supported your writing by buying your book.” To make that claim one should read it, review it, and tell others. Simply buying is not supporting anyone.


  5. I usually finish books I start, though it may take a while if I have to put it down for a while. I won’t finish a book if I find myself rolling my eyes every few pages because the dialogue or descriptions are just too cliche or ridiculous.

    Sometimes I’ll put a book down and just forget that I’d been reading it (usually happens with dry characters), but that’s pretty rare.

    And yes, I literally have thrown a book across my room in disgust. I think that has happened maybe five times.


  6. I have put down books for all of those valid reasons you mentioned. In some cases there may have been nothing wrong about the book for me except the subject matter. I don’t apologize for it; nor do I blame the author in most cases. The most prevalent reason for putting down an unfinished book is boredom, but what bores me may excite someone else.


  7. I stop reading a book if it is boring or poorly-written. I give it a fair shot, but if it lacks conflict, isn’t moving quickly enough, or has plot issues that are evident, I abandon it for a better read. I don’t feel badly, either. I don’t like wasting my time on reading something that isn’t engaging. I am reading a book now that has a good plot line, and I want to find out what happens. So I’m sticking with it. On the down side, some of the characters are just plain silly. There are a lot of sex scenes in the book. I have no problem with that, but the author uses the same phrases over and over and over again in descriptions of the lovemaking. I think she is using this tactic to slow down the action of the plot so the book doesn’t end too quickly. Not a good idea.


    • Haha the sex stuff is funny. If any book I’m reading has more than maybe two, not detailed sex scenes, just where the reader knows what’s going on between the two characters, then I’d probably stop the book and ask myself what the heck I’m reading. Since almost all my books are mysteries, I’m not looking to be reading about a ton of sex.


  8. I agree with your reasons… typically, if I see even one grammatical error I toss the book without another thought, and an overwhelming amount of cursing also lands the book in the garbage. Some writers think they “need” the bad language -for authenticity maybe? But for me, it’s distracting, repetitive, unnecessary, and extremely frustrating. I wouldn’t hang out with someone who talked like that, and I don’t like to have to tell my books to wash their mouths out with soap, either. Good question!


  9. I rarely stop reading books when I commit to it, but have a few times. Usually its just the writing style doesn’t stick with me. If I don’t like it after 30-50 pages I’ll stop reading. I have left a couple books half-finished because I had to read something for school and I can’t read two books at once without taking something away from them. I’ll go back an start it over when I have time.


      • I just meant I plan to reread the ones I stopped reading because I didn’t have time. Although now you mention it there have been books I didn’t like then tried to read a couple years later and LOVED them the second time through. I just wasn’t mature enough to enjoy them when I was younger.


      • Hmmm. I have maybe one or two books that I stopped reading years ago. I don’t know. It’s looking rather dim that I actually go back and read them.


  10. Going by numbers alone, I’m most likely to stop reading a book because it’s so full of errors in grammar and punctuation that I cannot overlook those errors and read it anyway. So far, this has mostly happened with e-books. *shrug* That aside, I’m not likely to stop reading a book entirely, although I may set it aside for a while, as with one sci-fi novel I picked up a few weeks ago. It’s a good story, and I like the characters, but it isn’t as interesting to me as the other books I’ve read by the same author. I’ll get back to it eventually. The last book I stopped reading and will NOT pick up to finish later was okay for a while, but then there was a scene with graphic sexual violence (spaced out over several chapters, so I couldn’t even just skip that part), and I won’t read that.


  11. Seeing as I’m kinda competitive, I don’t like a book winning so I read it till the end even if I am bored to tears … literally. What tends to happen is that it just numbs my brain cells more so I guess at times it’s a win-win situation because I realise I still had SOME brain cells that were alive before I got to the book which instills hope for my mind in the future.


  12. I totally agree with all of the above, though I think voice and protagonist is number one for me. There are so many books I’ve read that are a good premise and decent writing, but the protagonist is so bland or annoying or flat. I’m not so picky about pacing, or description (I just tend to skim) but if it is really excessive, then yes I will get bored. I get more annoyed with books who try to do too many characters and backstory and the story just gets lost because the writer was excited about all these cool people and places and names he came up with…haha. But I’m still pretty stubborn, and hardly ever put down a book for good.


  13. For me, it’s usually around the middle of the book. If there isn’t enough action or story pressing forward, I can set it down and not pick it up again. There are plenty of books I haven’t finished. Interesting post. Good topic!


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