Is it ever ok to abandon a book?

I’m sure I’m not alone in having a never-depleting “To Be Read” pile of books – whether it is IMG_0583books you have read before, novels weighing down your bookshelves, a never-ending wishlist, new finds from the library or books that have been lent to you!

This is why, last year, I made the conscious decision to ditch books that I wasn’t enjoying, whether I was a few chapters in, half way through, or even near the end. With so many books needing to be read, I decided to no longer waste my time on turkeys that I wasn’t enjoying.

I feel a bit guilty when I dump a book unfinished – but the guilt is soon replaced with pleasure as I choose a new book from the tottering shelves…

What about you? Are you one of those people who wouldn’t dream of leaving a book unfinished, even if you hate it? Or do you, like me, not lose too much sleep over leaving a loser?

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30 comments

  1. I used to struggle through to the bitter end…but then I realized, like you, that enjoying what we read is the most important thing. If it’s a review book, I will plow on through, but I’ve gotten much better in my selections of those books, so that doesn’t often happen anymore.

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  2. I’ve DNF’d a couple of books in my day. I always tell myself I’m going to go back to them, though. =P Also, it’s not unheard of for me to start a book and then either a new book arrives in the mail or as a gift or I buy one and then read that instead before going back to the first book.

    But I think it’s totally okay to DNF if you have to. Life is too short to read crappy books.

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  3. It depends on how bad the book is. I usually try to give a book 100 pages before I quit, and I only quit when I am constantly checking how many pages I have until the end. I like to plug away, figuring that I don’t want to have wasted my time. 🙂

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  4. In the past I’ve stopped reading a book I didn’t enjoy. Most times I don’t think about them again but there are a few that haunt me. I can remember bits and pieces and wonder why I stopped reading them. The only problem is titles and author’s names are completely out of my memory, so I’m left just wondering if I could find them again.
    So I can abandon a book but I’m much more cautious about when I do it now.

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  5. It took this very old reader decades, literally, to be able to abandon a book without feeling guilty. Finally I decided I was running out of reading time anyway, so I’d better not waste it if I wasn’t enjoying it. I abandoned a book just last week, about a third of the way in – I kept thinking it would soon be more to my taste, but finally decided that wasn’t going to happen.

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  6. I used to try to finish them, but now I gleefully abandon – life’s too short to be miserable when it’s not absolutely necessary. But I do usually try to read a fair chunk before making the decision, ‘cos sometimes a book improves as it goes on. I’m reading one at the moment that took about a hundred pages to really get into its stride, and now I’m really enjoying it.

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  7. I’ve abandoned very few books, but after discovering goodreads and book blogs, I haven’t picked up a book I couldn’t read. I follow the recommendations of bloggers and goodreads reviewers in my favorite genres, so all the books I have been reading lately are the kind I can’t put down. Also, I read the free samples on Amazon if I discover a book that isn’t reviewed by the bloggers I follow, usually the sample gives a very clear idea whether I’ll enjoy reading the book or not.

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  8. It depends on the book… sometimes I feel no guilt whatsoever but other times I get really cranky with myself for giving up. Often I decide that it’s down to the fact I’m not feeling like that style at that point in time, then go back later. But others it’s just because the book is awful or it’s written in a way I’ll always hate!

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  9. Oh, I definitely abandon books if they’re not working for me. There are always so many books that I want to read, so why waste time on something I’m not enjoying?

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  10. As soon as I left school, a few days after my 16th birthday, I vowed I would never again read a book I didn’t enjoy. I have now held to that for 41 years with the only caveats being; “unless obliged to to help my child at school” and “unless I am being paid to do so for work”. I use the same guidelines for TV, movies and music, only the caveat there is, “unless I am obliged to for family obligation”.

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  11. I think I’m in the same boat as most everyone else. I used to have an absolute rule that I finished every book I started. Then I ran into a couple of books that I would rather never read again that keep reading. So I created the 50-page rule. I will read the first 50 pages no matter what, but if I have no interest in the story beyond that point, I allow myself to move on.

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