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It’s Not Them, It’s Me: Five Reasons I’ve Quit Reading a Perfectly Good Book

Teresa Preston

Staff Writer

Since 2008, Teresa Preston has been blogging about all the books she reads at Shelf Love. She supports her book habit by working as a magazine editor at a professional association in the Washington, DC, area, which is (in)conveniently located just a few steps from a used bookstore. When she’s not reading or editing, she’s likely to be attending theatre, practicing yoga, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer again, or doting on her toothless orange cat, Anya. Twitter: @teresareads

I start a book. Usually I’m interested, maybe even excited. I might be skeptical, but cautiously optimistic. I read a few pages, a few more, and then the will to read evaporates. I can’t go on. The specifics may vary, but I’ve noticed five reasons that tend to make me quit reading a book.

Reason #1. Too much information. I’m interested in the topic, but not that interested. The level of detail is bogging me down. Spending half an hour with an article or even two hours with a documentary would have been better.

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Reason #2. Not enough information. The book is set in a fascinating place and does nothing with it. Seriously, it could be set anywhere. Why am I bothering?

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Reason #3. I don’t get it. I thought this was supposed to be funny. Everyone else thinks it’s funny. Why isn’t it funny?

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Reason #4. Bored now. Is anything ever going to happen? Will the writing ever pick up? Is this character ever going to come to life?

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Reason #5. This again? Can I read another book about a lusty old dude and all the women who (he claims) want to have sex with him? Can I? Apparently not.

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Note that these reasons aren’t necessarily judgments on the book’s quality. They’re often as much about me as they are about the book. After all, one woman’s boring is another woman’s hypnotically absorbing (or something). But I’ve stopped feeling bad about giving up on books that I’m not enjoying, even if they’ve received heaps of praise from people I trust.

When a book isn’t working for me, I might check a few reviews or ask others about it on Twitter, just in case there’s a huge turnaround in the next chapter that makes it amazing. Every now and then, I’ll set it aside for the evening to see if my mood is different the next day. However, once I know a book is not working, I’m done. No regrets. No guilt.

Yes, it’s disappointing to find that a book isn’t as good as I’d hoped. But that disappointment is nothing compared to the good feeling that comes from setting a book aside and picking up another book that does work. There are way too many good books to waste valuable time on something that just doesn’t fit. So, for me, giving up on a book is a cause for celebration because I can use my time to read something I really like.

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