What Makes You Put Down A Book?

This morning I read a post on Facebook that contained a ‘chart’ of reasons why readers put down books without finishing them.

The original article can be found at the following link:

The article also shows top five most abandoned books. I’m amused to see ‘Wicked’ there, and the reason (that people saw the Broadway show and it’s not like that). Wicked, The Musical focuses on a ‘segment’ of Wicked, The Novel…not the entire novel. Having first read the book and then seen the musical, I can say I enjoyed each one just as much as the other.

Presently I’m reading a book by one of my favorite authors that I have owned since its release in 1994 but have never been able to get into it. It’s John Irving’s ‘A Son Of The Circus’.  I’ve tried before, numerous times, and always put the 600+ page work back on a shelf before getting too far into it.  Recently I read Irving’s ‘In One Person’ and decided to revisit this book again, years since I last tried.  I’m now 250 pages into it, and looking forward to finally plowing through it. I’m even enjoying it.

I have several things that would make me not finish a book, though that is a rare occurrence for me. The reasons are as follows:

1. The story doesn’t draw me in after several chapters of reading.

2. The writing style is off-putting and pedestrian in nature.

3. The story itself contains something off-putting or offensive to me personally.

4. A new release from a favorite author comes out before I have a chance to complete what I’m already reading.

5. Whatever is going on in my life is too thought and time consuming for me to read what I’ve chosen, so I pick up something more frivolous instead.

As I said, it’s rare that I put down a book without finishing it, and oftentimes I go back to it eventually and complete it. Even some of my favorite authors have fallen prey to this. Anne Rice’s ‘Servant Of The Bones’ took me three tries to get into, but I made it eventually and really enjoyed the story. In some cases it’s just about timing for me.

When I complete a book, I immediately pick up another one. I either have one that I’m certain I want to read next, or I pick up three or four and read a chapter of each (what I call auditioning books) and whichever draws me in the soonest or most completely is the one I go with. I’ve put down books without finishing them, certainly, but I’ve not gone without reading ‘something’ for at least two decades, even if it took me a month or two to finish a book due to other outside obligations.

For other avid readers, I’m curious as to what makes them put down a book without finishing it.  I’d love to hear the reasons.


7 thoughts on “What Makes You Put Down A Book?

  1. Wendy Milne Nowell says:

    Like you, if the book does not “grab me in the first 50-75 pages, I will consider putting it down… exception being if I have been told that it is “slow to start” but gets better… The main reason I put books down is if I have absolutely no connection with the characters – could not care one way or the other what happens to them. This happens rarely but it does happen. One book I recently read – The Ruins by Scott Smith – I actually kept reading even though I really disliked all the characters because I knew they were all doomed to die (yeah… a little morbid of me but that was my thought process for finishing the book – Hey another one bites the dust!) 🙂

  2. Matt, Wicked is a really great read once you get into it….more about politics than what you recall about ‘Oz’, yet also a FAR CRY from the film or the original book….a really brilliant take on the story….the author also has done some amazing things with Cinderella and Snow White…and there are four books in the ‘Oz Years’ series….

  3. matt says:

    Maybe I’ll take another crack at it. My wife is an avid reader…(every day). I go in phases. I’m trying to make time again. Starting off with Stephen King (11/22/63). Fun read so far.

  4. I am like most everyone else as far as putting a book down after reading a small part. But for me it’s always do I feel one with the author. Do they write like they are speaking it to me? If that quality is not there I close it up and usually will not try it again. I am an avid reader and get panicky if there is nothing new to read in the house, and by that I mean new to me. I have read books I didn’t think I would ever want to read because it was there and nothing else was and I was as surprised as anyone else when I get drawn into it. I am not drawn by deep thinkers, popular writers mean nothing to me but if I find an author whose style pulls me in, like they are telling me this story watch out because I’ll read everything they’ve written, I think most of the books I’ve read would never be found on the Best Seller list but I always like what I’m reading and look forward, sometimes anxiously, to getting back into it. I’m not highbrow, big words don’t impress me, but an author who is real, that I like. It’s not 5 reasons I guess it’s really only one. Does the author speak my language?

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