When Is a Bad Book Too Bad?

I’m curious, Squiders. At what point do you put down a book that you don’t like? One that you honestly feel like you are wasting your life by reading. One that you are wondering how it ever made it to print in the first place.

When do you give up?

Is it as soon as you lose interest? If it doesn’t grab you by a certain point (first page, first chapter, etc.)? At some unspecified point where the author has managed to piss you off enough that you can’t bring yourself to care about the resolution anymore?

Or do you never give up?

Are you one of those people who must finish a book once they’ve started it? Who, even if you hate all the characters and think the author should be committed, push on to the painful end?

Where is enough enough for you? If you always finish a book, why do you think you do?

Or, are you a third type–one who tries to push through every book you start but, for some reason or other, find yourself putting aside books you are generally enjoying, never to pick them up again?

Oh, yes, Squiders, these types exist. I am, alas, one of them. I can count the books I’ve put down because I thought they were terrible on one hand, but for every one of those, there’s two good books that sit unfinished.

Are you one of these too?

I figure it’s the level of difficulty of the book. There’s either so much to think about that I want to let it percolate, or the scope is too big to get in a single setting. Something along those lines. I can see one of these books staring at me from to bookshelf: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. I started it junior year of high school, I think. It was extra credit to read some portion of it, and I loved it. But I never finished it. I keep it around, because I’d like to some day, but it’s been over a decade at this point.

I figure the only reason I made it through Pillars of the Earth (which is one of the best books I have ever read, by the by) is because I was trapped in a lab for three days with nothing else to do.

So which are you, Squiders? A reader a book has to earn, a reader a book has to lose, or a reader who just needs to think about everything a bit too much?

2 responses to this post.

  1. For me, it’s like this:
    If it takes you more than one or two chapters to get me interested in something regardless of what it is, you’ve lost me.
    If it takes you more than 100-150 pages to get to a significant or exciting event in the plot, you’ve lost me.


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