Once upon a time, I endured a book, no matter how I hated it, believing that the further it went, the better it could be. I was often rewarded. Many of the books I thought I abandoned turned out to be amazing. Some examples are Peter Fröberg Idling’s song “The Coming Storm”, David Park’s “The Truth Commissioner” and John MacKenna’s “The Space Between Us”.
But lately, I dropped a few books ^ because I just didn’t like it. It hardly seemed worth it to persevere when so many other books compete for my attention. Does that now make me an erratic reader? Or maybe lazy? Maybe it was just a case of the right book, the wrong time?
Apparently, criminal writer Mark Billingham recently told the Cheltenham Literary Festival that if the book didn’t catch you after 20 pages, then It’s okay to give it up and “throwing anger through the room.” I think we can do without violence, but I’m starting to think he’s doing something. But maybe 50 pages is a more real measure …?
And what about you? Do you have any rules for when you should abandon a book, or do you continue until the bitter end?
^ I won’t mention names here (go to on my Facebook page if you’re really interested) because it’s not fair to writers, and I don’t want to deter people from reading what might actually “impress” them. Just because they didn’t work for me doesn’t mean they won’t work for you either. Books are a meeting of two minds – the author and the reader – and sometimes, for the thinnest or most personal or funny reasons, alchemy just doesn’t work.
I am a book lover who has been viewing books online as a hobby since 2001. This Reading Matters blog was founded in 2004 and has taken many forms over the last 17 years. I enjoy reading extensively, but there is a special place in my heart for literary fiction from Ireland and Australia.
View all kimbofo entries