D is for Did not finish and why

Author: Anne

Date Published: May 20th 2017, 11:39pm

I find that I am more and more likely to give up on books as I grow older and I have made my peace with the inner voice that tells me that I am a quitter ! Here is a blog I wrote over a year ago which is still true


Once upon a time I always finished books. I read each page to the bitter end whether or not I was enjoying it. I regarded books as tasks and felt that somehow I had failed if I didn’t get all the way to the end. Other people have told me the same – that if they start a book they always finish it.

Well, I am delighted to find that I have changed. I am not sure when it happened, and maybe it was a gradual process but I realised that life was too short to invest time in something I wasn’t enjoying and that there are a wealth of books I have yet to get to which I would probably enjoy more than the pitiable specimen that I am abandoning.

I still don’t give up on books easily and I spend more time than I should do struggling on with something that gives me no satisfaction at all. Somehow I still have this lingering feeling that not finishing a book is a moral failing and that maybe if I don’t finish this one I will never finish another book again – I am fighting this battle against myself and I intend to win.

There are a variety of reasons for abandoning a book and I actually don’t do it very often – probably because I am very selective in what I start to read in the first place. I read about 35 books per month and I may abandon only one or two – that is just above twenty for the year which I don’t think is bad considering the number that I do finish. The main reasons for not finishing books (for me at least) are :

• Characters I just don’t want to spend time with. They may be sexist or racist or use too much bad language and the book may have their redemption in hand but I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the company of this type of person in real life so when they are the main character in a book I find it equally difficult.

• Bad writing. Obviously this is all a matter of taste but books which use too many descriptive words or ones in which everything is explained to the reader via long sections of dialogue are two reasons which immediately come to mind. Sometimes the way in which a book is written just annoys me and I can’t pin down exactly why.

• Books which aren’t what I thought they were. This is where the synopsis or blurb hasn’t been specific enough (or possibly that I haven’t read it carefully). A crime novel may get very gory or turn into a horror story for example, or maybe the book is actually an historical novel rather than a contemporary story. Sometimes I try a history factual book and find that it has not been designed for the general reader and is too detailed or impenetrable for me. Thinking I’m reading one kind of book but actually I’m reading another is sufficient reason to give up on occasion – although, of course, sometime the surprise is acceptable and enjoyable.

• Badly formatted Kindle books or ones with a lot of typos. This often occurs with free books or self-published ones which don’t appear to have been edited. Sometime the advance reader copies which I get via NetGalley will have an issue which will not appear in the final version but which makes it hard or impossible to read – one I tried a while back had the letter “f” missing all the way through which made for some interesting guesswork.

• The appearance of some of my pet hates. I’m an intolerant soul and have a number of things that I don’t enjoy in books and which annoy me when they appear – on occasion, this is enough to make me abandon reading. One of these might be if the character has a dream in which the solution to the mystery is revealed or if a psychic can provide all the answers without any logic.

I probably still continue with too many books that I am not enjoying but I am definitely trying to cure myself of this. I just need to keep reminding myself that there are no prizes for struggling on and there are plenty more books to try.