Thursday, June 3, 2010

What Makes You Put a Book Down?

Recently, I bought a book that I was extremely excited about. I'd see pictures of it at various book events, posters, read interviews with the author, and got all twitchy waiting to lay my paws on it and have a good read.
It's now several months later, and I'm less than halfway through.
It seems that every time I try to read this book before bed my eyes close and I fall asleep before I can get past a page or two. Other books have beeen known to keep me up for all hours, so.... what the heck, book?? Why are you making this so difficult?!
When do you finally decide to throw in the towel on a book you're just not that into?
What finally puts you over the edge? What moves the book from bedside table only to be covered in cobwebs, forgotten in a corner?
For me, the usual culprits are these:
1) Unbelievable dialogue. And I don't mean in the sense of "Whoa! That dialogue is so amazing, it's UNBELIEVABLE!" Rather, dialogue that is just so silly or unreal that it takes me out of the story and makes me cock an eyebrow.
2) Characters repeatedly doing something stupid. No, you idiot! You can't save the world if you keep wandering off by yourself, losing the Sword of Awesomeness, and putting yourself foot-first into traps a cub scout could spot. Also, the female lead likes you. Pull your head out of your ass, already!
3) The writer loves the sound of their own keyboard. Every clickity clack is PURE POETRY and absolutely cannot be cut from the manuscript. Descriptions are long, usually unnecessar, and always snooze-inducing.
However, this book had none of these usual suspects :(. I'm just (and I hate to say it) ... bored.
What do you do when this happens to you?
Do you give the author the benefit of the doubt, or do you pitch it in the Good Will pile at page 10?


Unknown said...

I'm a bit of a reading freak, so I can look past bad dialog and stupid characters. Mostly. I can skim the descriptions too. My problem, quite simply, is the lack of story.

When I put a book down, its generally after I've sat back and gone, "Hu... I've read fifty pages and nothing has happened yet. Nor is there any indication that something will happen."

So yeah, get on with the damn story and I'll keep reading! :P

Artemis Grey said...

So this is a great question! Everything you listed is something that will make me yark a book.

That being said, the more I write, the more I'm willing to read a book even if I think it's horrible. I'm not sure when this change began taking place, but now when I'm reading something and I find myself thinking 'This is utter yak food' my mind just shifts gears from 'I want to enjoy this story' mode to 'I want to see what this author does, even though I don't like this, and then see what I can get from their writing' mode.'

The one serious pet peeve I have is the current trend of 'my boyfriend/best friend/I just found out that I'm, -insert random fey creature here-' books that are out. I know that the glut is just one of those things that happens occasionally in publishing, but what really really bothers me is that, to me, most of the books are mirrors of each other. And the ones who are 'different' are SO wacky different, that they lose me or come across as trying too hard. I'll still pick a book like the above up, but if it doesn't snag me instantly, I chuck it. I just don't have the patience.

Jamie Grey said...

I'm having this problem right now! I have one of those "have to read" books and I've started it, but I can't make myself finish it. And I'm one of those people who *have* to finish books. It's not that the dialgoue is bad or there's too much description, I'm just not connected with the characters! I'm going to give it one more shot and then I'm giving up. Great post!

Tere Kirkland said...

I don't want to name names, but there are plenty of books I just can't get into.

Sometimes it's my own fault, I'm distracted, or I just haven't been able to immerse myself in the book enough yet.

Other times I can speed through the thing and realize I didn't really connect with (or like) the characters.

That's why I usually try to give books I'm stuck on a chance to prove their worth. But once people start acting too stupid too live, or acting out of character, I'm putting it down.

Rebecca Gomez said...

When an author over-indulges on describing a setting or character (especially when it is a very-minor-almost-unnecessary-character), THAT drives me crazy. Though, if the story is interesting enough, I will usually skim ahead. Fantasy authors seem to do this a lot (are you taking note, fantasy authors?). Maybe that's why I'm not as into fantasy as I use to be?

Ann said...

I am a have to finish it if I started it book reader. Sometimes the time is just not right for a particular book and if you put it aside and go back to it a week or month later, it can seem like a totally different read. Other times it is just bad. When that happens, once finished it gets fired across the room in frustration!

Joseph Frankmor said...

I usually try not to quit on a book but sometimes it can be so damn hard to make it all the way through.

I'm reading one right now that has a bit of your #3 complaint. Long boring descriptions and also I'm not too fond of the main character. The rest of the book is interesting but those are really slowin' it down. I'm gonna try to finish though.

Jess said...

I had this problem with some books last year --- there wasn't anything wrong with them, but I was bored. I think it's BECAUSE I was so excited for it, there was NO WAY the real thing could live up to the hype in my head. None.

Anonymous said...

I try to power through it, but it doesn't always work...I have about six books in progress...evidence of what happens when I'm thrown out of the story.

Great post!

Tyffani Clark said...

I have a compulsion...I can't not finish a book, even if it sucks so bad that it opens up a blackhole in the universe. The result is usually me spending a month or longer forcing myself to read a little bit every day until it's finished.

prashant said...

I have about six books in progress
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Unknown said...

For me, it's lame/corny situations or set-ups. Too many cliches in dialogue and descriptions. Also, predictable endings...:P