What Makes A Reader Stop Reading A Book?


What makes you stop reading a book? Have you tried and given up on the same book more than once? Is there a classic you tried to read but couldn’t?

Goodreads asked their members and created this infographic with the results from their questions.

Please share the books you’ve abandoned and your reasons for abandoning them in the comments section below.

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This article has 32 comments

  1. Marilize Roos

    I usually don’t remember the books I abandoned (and there have been several); I just take note of the author (so I don’t make that mistake twice) and move on.

    Usually I abandon a book if it’s boring, depressing, the characters do something I completely disagree with (like adultery) or I just can’t make myself like the characters. I don’t wait until the mid-point to do this – life is too short to read boring books.

  2. Lin Weich

    I will abandon a book if it starts too slowly and fails to really capture my interest. A real deal breaker is poor writing and editing.

  3. Kathy Penney

    I tried and tried to read Outlander, but just could not see what other readers were about. The heroine is just too fond of herself!

    I also failed to finish The Great Gatsby because it had too many irritating grammatical errors.

  4. Delores

    Read Moby Dick in grade school and liked it.

    Tried to read Eat, Pray, Love but found it boring as hell and never made it past the first few pages.

    I did like Outlander, and found the story and her writing interesting the way she progressed it, but put the second book down – way too much rehashing from the first one.

    The Far Pavillion (over 1000 pages) I nearly put it down but at about page 35 they’d progressed enough

    on history and the story took off very well after that.

    Loved Infidel, it was like she was sitting across from me telling secrets, and I love hearing about other countries and cultures. Same goes for many other memoirs of real people outside of the US. WildSwans, An Ordinary Man, Left to Tell, The Unwanted, Disquised, Enrique’s Journey. . .

    WHAT I HATE ABOUT BOOKS: poor grammar, poorly edited, BORING characters, a lot of cliches or overused words, and obvious knock-off of a recent “hit” book, telling and not showing, too much fluff and flowery words because the writer wants to show off what they know. I’d much rather they learned how to craft a story!

    Learn how, before self publishing or a reader WILL remember your name…and avoid you.

  5. Sherine

    I’ve abandoned Trumpet by Jackie Kay. The twist is revealed early, maybe it’s not a twist, but I’m not sure that the book has anything else to offer except how the secret messed up every body’s life. Her style is phenomenal, but we need a good plot.

  6. Bob Scheer

    I was swamped by Moby Dick’s text type swapping and lost patience, Wolf Hall drew a palpable hit with the headache inducing idioms… But I will return. Outlander – porno bodice ripping time traveling was strangely irresistible but with lazy modernisms. The Name of the Rose almost lost me in a labarynthine Latin description of a door but after a month of rest, the murder mystery prevailed.

  7. Louise Sisley

    I could not even get 50 pages into “Corrections” by Jonathon Franken. The characters were far to whiney. They seemed insipid and immature. I just could not put up with the main character, in particular. I will not return. I am giving the book to a book sale or a free give away. One the other hand, I have read all the classics that were listed and more than once. To me, they are five of the best novels ever written.

  8. jamie

    Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. My favorite book of all times was…no IS To Kill a Mockingbird so when I heard of the release of GSAW I was over the moon!!! I preordered it on Amazon and counted the days, minutes, hours till it arrived. What a HUGE disappointment. The amateurish writing…it was like a poor attempt at stream of consciousness…UGH! I should have been left in the closet.

  9. Heather

    ‘1984’ I hated everything about it. Got to about page 30 and failed every quiz on it because I refused to read any further. The only time I didn’t finish a required reading for school.

  10. Serena

    I usually abandon books if the plot and/or characters do absolutely nothing for me, though bad writing is an instant deal breaker with me. The most recent book I abandoned was LOST VOICES by Sarah Porter. Great concept but poor execution. I put it down after chapter four.

  11. Teddy Cruz

    I abandoned “Ulysses” after several paragraphs. It is too pretentious, too stylistic and over-sophisticated. The author has no sense of space.

    I abandoned “Outlander” after the first book. Ending too bland. If I was going to go through the whole series with no orgasmic satisfaction after each book that doesn’t leave me enough curiosity to jump to the next one, forget it. In my opinion the books in a series must be able to stand alone and yet be able to compel you to jump into the next–like Harry Potter.

    “Sentimental Education” by Faubert is such a bore. It gets you nowhere even after halfway through. I abandoned it.

    Time is precious.

  12. Maggie zubrin

    Am just about to abandon barkskins about 50% through. I just don’t like any of the characters and they just go on that way. Plot threads are abandoned with no explanation and for an historical novel, much of the context is hazy at best. Sweeping historical novels are not every authors milieu.

  13. Sherryl

    I really hate a book that spends too much time on explanation of what things are; for example, a military adventures that explains exactly who General Whats-He-Name is when he’s not the protagonist. Even worse if you quickly realize he’s not even a secondary character. Aaargh! Sometimes, the writer has done a wonderful job illuminating one protagonist and then the secondary protagonist is weak and voiceless. That will induce me to lay down the book never to finish it again. Sometimes it’s a villain who is too much like Dr. Evil except the writer didn’t intend for him to be a parody. Poor writing, poor plotting, poorly thought-out characters, ad infinitum.

    That being said, I am more tolerant of a new writer than I am of an “established” writer.

  14. Kim Knapp

    I abandoned some novel by Weis-Hickman in the first chapter because of lazy writing and anachronisms. Far-distant future and someone is wearing jeans? Using a leather thong to tie their hair? I couldn’t get past that.

  15. Jan S.

    Can’t stand a book where the writer spends 20 pages on the description of a field – e.g. Thomas Harding. Finished but disliked The Casual Vacancy. There was no one to like or care about. On the other hand, I’m a devoted Outlander follower. I used to believe if I got more than half way through a book I had to finish it. Then I got older and realized there were too many good books out there to waste my time on one I wasn’t enjoying.

  16. Freya

    The title slips my mind now but I tried five or six times to read a lesser known apocalyptic thriller that had one fatal flaw: no speech marks. Halfway through the prelude the author simply dropped them. Even worse it was very clearly a conscious choice – the rest of the book was a repetition of he said she said that ground what should have been an exciting, dynamic plot to a halt because the author needed to qualify whenever somebody was talking. The editor should have been fired for allowing this ridiculousness.

  17. Joy Bhattacharya

    I tried reading ‘Catch 22’ umpteen times but could never go beyond a few pages.

  18. LaToya

    I quit reading Conquistadora by Esmeralda Santiago. I didn’t like the main character. I tried to push through it but I couldn’t. It didn’t hold my attention.

  19. David

    My friends and I have similar senses of humor with one exception. They all love Confederacy of Dunces. I’ve tried to read this book three different times. Gave up on page 20 the first time, 30 the second, and 50 the third.

    It’s not just that I don’t find it funny. If that was the case I could just write it off to subjective tastes. The problem is I can’t even figure out where the funny parts are supposed to be. I feel like I’m reading a book in a language where I understand the grammar and vocabulary but none of the idioms.

    This will sound like snark, but I’d really like an annotated copy where someone who liked the book highlighted the parts they thought were funny.

  20. TC

    I was attracted to The Martian by the premise of the astronaut alone on Mars, trying to survive, but when I actually started the book I was hugely put off by the writing style and the main character’s voice – I just couldn’t believe that someone who spoke as informally as that would have been chosen for a trip to Mars. I understand he gets quite technical but if the idea was to make him sound like an ordinary guy then this misfired hugely for me. I was curious about The Casual Vacancy because of JK Rowling’s profile but found that disappointing too – in Harry Potter she created an enormously popular series set within a fantastic imaginary world, yet as soon as she gets the chance to come out of that world and write “whatever she wants” or “something for grown-ups” she chooses a bunch of hateful middle-class people in a nasty little English village. Now compare these to two books I recently DID finish – The Humans by Matt Haig had a fascinating premise and a narrator who developed all the time and had a believable and readable style, and I wanted to know what was going to happen – a real page-turner; Gold by Dan Rhodes was very funny, tender and original, and even though (like Rowling’s) was set amidst a small community, it wasn’t making some comment about England, it was simply a story set amongst those few people – it could have been anywhere. (It also helped that the characters were funny.) Two books I nearly gave up on but eventually finished were The Girl on the Train (I found the style incredibly dull but I persevered because I wanted to know “whodunit”) and Gone Girl (the writing was amazing but the two main characters were both horrible).

  21. Marybeth

    I have tried multiple times to read Moby Dick, Outlander and Pride and Prejudice. Just can’t do it. If a book doesn’t catch my attention right away or if I don’t like the characters I cast it aside and reach for the next one.

  22. Aline Kaplan

    Abandoned Books: Mill on Floss (boring), The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton (silly, selfish female protagonist), The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (no female characters, arrogant protagonist), Shadow of the Wind (boring, not enough action) anything by Dickens, numerous contemporary/science fiction/fantasy novels that should never have been published. I don’t have the time to finish something I don’t like or am not enjoying, whether it’s a book or a movie. It has to grab me in the first few chapters.

  23. Aline Kaplan

    Oh, yeah, forgot Wolf Hall. She managed to make a dramatic part of English history into a totally boring textbook.

  24. Cheryl

    “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway.

    Holy author hype, Batman!

    He may be touted as one of the best writers of all time.

    Certainly not by this book alone. I tried and tried. Hated every word. Depressing. Disjoint. Most awful classics I tried to read.

  25. Tammy

    I tried to read Fifty Shades of Grey three times and put it down, making it through one more chapter with each attempt. The writing was so poor, the story was the same as so many before and frankly, if I want to read erotica, there is much better available. To think, our right to publish and read books like this was fought and won thanks to Henry Miller. He is spinning in his grave.

  26. Lauren

    I’m slightly obsessive about finding out how the story ends, so unless it’s REALLY bad I tend to push through. Just a couple days ago I gave up on a book after an unprecedented THREE PAGES because I just couldn’t take it. The stereotyping, the misogyny, and the pompous dialogue and attitudes of three of the four characters I met in those three pages drove me away. They included (1) a female President-Elect who ‘basks in the glory of her power’ while terrorizing her aide and reflecting that it would be a shame to kill character 3 and ‘waste all that Alaskan manly goodness,’ (2) the harried and cowardly aide whose most memorable action is managing not to be killed by a flying letter opener, thrown by the President-Elect, (3) the title character, ‘J Wild McKilljoy,’ who describes himself as a ‘lean, trim ladykiller’ and bellows “I am the Alpha Dog!” to his wife, and (4) his wife Domina who makes snide remarks to the title character and tosses moose haunches around.

    I suppose it was meant as a parody of something, but I couldn’t stick around long enough to figure out what. It was awful.

  27. KRISSY

    I resist books that are “wildly popular” as I assume (rightly or wrongly) they owe their standing to an overt appeal to the lowest common denominator. For that reason, I avoided COLD MOUNTAIN for years.

    I finally decided to give the book a try around the time the movie came out. It was the first time I finished a book that had at least two unfamiliar words on every page! (I could not find definitions in my dictionary because the author used the Oxford dictionary). I persevered, though, because of the strong PLOT. I had to know how the story ended!

    We all know the book is always better, but I can say the movie was faithful to the book, with any alterations being “in character” and not the sort that take one out of the experience, making you question the character’s motivation.

    Initially, I resisted EAT, PRAY, LOVE due to its overwhelming popularity. After a few years, when I thought to give it a try, I found out that instead of being a journey of self discovery, the publisher commissioned Gilbert with the project to travel for a year, and write a memoir.

    Knowing that turned me off. It just smelled funny to me.

    Now, with her recent revelation, I am SO GLAD I didn’t waste time following the crowd. What a fraud! To claim her inspiration for the trip was a divorce and the travel was a way to “find herself.”

    Give. Me. A. BREAK!!

  28. Nalini

    I used to be a completionist but, since becoming a reviewer, I abandon many books.

    I abandoned Zakora on page two after counting repetitions of adverbs from the first half of page one.

    I abandoned an award-winning fantasy novel that was pretty ordinary except for the sloppy writing and editing. When the protagonist stood on a narrow bridge that only allowed one enemy to attack at a time then, in the next sentence, he was surrounded, I closed the book forever. If it’s that bad by about page 50 or 70, then I’m not going to read the trilogy.

    Many of the books I put down, I intend to read later. (Road to hell, blah blah.) More abandoned books have good ideas but need better editing. Like the book (again nameless) that I abandoned on page 20 because it had brief flashes of really engaging scenes smothered in torpid ‘telling’ prose with the author’s message being hammered home with a mallet. An editing lecturer at uni asked if anyone had read that book; I told her where I abandoned it. She replied that it took her 70 pages to become engaged with the story. 70 pages. Once I would have persevered, if not until the end, at least until 100 or so pages in, but not any more.

  29. Andrew Heister

    If I’ve made it to the halfway point & honestly couldn’t care less what happens to the characters, I surrender. Most of the time I will give a book at least that much.

  30. Sophie

    I abandon a book only if it is incredibly dull. Bleak House by Dickens just had absolutely no story to it, and I couldn’t see any spark behind J.K. Rowling in The Casual Vacancy. I have read through 3/5 of the top 5 abandoned books- 50 shades, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Wicked. Never tried Eat Pray Love because I can tell it’s not my thing, and I’ve already commented on Casual Vacancy.

    I find that because I am so busy and have to read books constantly for my degree, that when I read a book for pleasure, I find myself having to stop and set it down for anything between a few days to a month in order to be 100% interested. Authors who grab my attention are the likes of Stephen King, Andrew Michael Hurley and Mary Shelley. They tell stories with a good balance of action and description. YA authors are brilliant at telling the story and describing actions and people, while too many adult authors are so focused on writing a ‘brilliant’ piece of literature that they lose interest from lengthy 4-page descriptions of mountainsides which may be beautiful and poetic but which, let’s face it, everybody skips from time to time.

  31. Adri

    I abandon books that interrupt the story to have the main character think deeply about their past. Like I get that the beach reminds you of your mother, but I’d much rather hear about your trauma through a conversation or some other means. We we’re supposed to have a fun time, Jim, and you ruined it. I usually skip over these parts and pick up where the story continues, but the last two books I tried to read did it so often I couldn’t take it.

  32. Cee

    I’ve recently abandoned Outlander. Made it to the middle of the novel and couldn’t keep going. Too much rape, violence and ridiculous scenes that went nowhere.

    Casual Vacancy took me a year to read. I started it twice until I finally got far enough to actually liking it and needing to know how it was going to end.

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