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General Book Talk > What makes you put down a book and stop reading?

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message 1: by Beth (last edited Oct 27, 2014 02:41AM) (new)

Beth Chilton (beth_chilton) | 10 comments When I read a book I never read the blurb, I read the first few pages. If the story hooks me then I'll keep going.

But there's usually a point in the book where I realise I don't want to read it any more. It could be the first sentence or half way through.

It's usually because of one of these three things:

1) Telling instead of showing.

2) Virginal heroines. I mean, is it really necessary?. It's the 21st century, that sort of thing went out of fashion fifty years ago.

3) Sentences that start with verbs. If book starts out something like: "Biting her lip, Chloe flicked her blonde fringe out of her eyes while she decided what to wear. Frowning, her eye roved over her extensive wardrobe..."
I put it down immediately.

So, I'm interested. What makes YOU put a book down? What books did you stop reading and why?

message 2: by Veronica (new)

Veronica Rosa (veronicadelrosa) Constant head hopping. I like dual POV and sometimes multiple POV, but if it changes in the same paragraph then it bothers me. One book I read changed the POV three times on the same page.

message 3: by Sandra J (new)

Sandra J Weaver (sandraweaver) | 147 comments I'll generally give a book the first chapter to interest me in the main character. If he/she is unlikeable, it's a DNF. A lot of spelling and usage errors (its/it's; then/than; there, their, they're, etc.) will make me drop a book immediately. I taught fourth grade for 38 years. If my fourth graders could master the differences and use homophones correctly, I expect an adult to do so as well. OTOH, I'm somewhat more tolerant of info dumps and tell instead of show (up to a point) due to reading all of those fourth grade stories.

message 4: by Bea (new)

Bea (viktorssexycutletbowl) | 3 comments 1. Lame and weak heroine that gets on my nerves always being a doormat and crying.
2. Male characters that are set in their bachelor ways and mistreats heroine (rolls eyes)
3. Books narrated in 2nd person.
4. Books with cliche plotlines- rich boy/poor girl, player/goodgirl. The ones that takes 300 pages- of he likes me/he doesnt- just for the characters to act on their feelings.

message 5: by Sandra J (new)

Sandra J Weaver (sandraweaver) | 147 comments #1 and #2 for sure. TSTL characters and first person, present tense narration make me dump a book quickly.

message 6: by Dawn, Desperately seeking new worlds (new)

Dawn (dawnv) | 4048 comments You know I have been thinking about this all day like what makes me put down a book so great question number one. And I am still not sure.

The main reason for me boils down to the writing - for whatever reason I cannot connect to the characters or the plot and in the end I just don't care about the outcome.

As I look at everyone's list I am nodding my head like yep that is annoying and yep that suck but at the same time I can think of books I have finished and continued reading in the series with many of these challenges.

message 7: by Dawn, Desperately seeking new worlds (last edited Oct 27, 2014 02:03PM) (new)

Dawn (dawnv) | 4048 comments Sandra J wrote: "#1 and #2 for sure. TSTL characters and first person, present tense narration make me dump a book quickly."

Present tense and first person is always tough and I think this is where snarky really grates my nerves...the character has to be really interesting and the book has to move fast. To example of good ones are Grimspace and Wicked Game

message 8: by Alisa (new)

Alisa | 973 comments It takes a lot to make me put down a book. I have a weird quirk about finishing anything I start. I do check blurbs and certain friend reviews before starting something. I won't even begin a book when the girl is a virgin, 25 or younger or there's any kind of millionaire/billionaire. I don't mind different pov's. They all can work for me if done right.

message 9: by Beth (last edited Oct 28, 2014 06:14AM) (new)

Beth Chilton (beth_chilton) | 10 comments Veronica Del Rosa wrote: "Constant head hopping."
I actually never noticed this as an issue until someone pointed it out in a Common Mistakes Writers Make article, but now that I do it irritates me too. I probably wouldn't put a book down on the strength of just that though.

Sandra J wrote: "I'll generally give a book the first chapter to interest me in the main character."
Alisa wrote: " I won't even begin a book when the girl is a virgin, 25 or younger or there's any kind of millionaire/billionaire.."
Lol, that must cut down severely on the amount of PNR/UF available to you. Because of the genre writers will naturally choose young, female protagonists, but yeah, it is irritating if she's too much of a romantic cliché. If she's got issues about wanting or having sex it makes it hard for me to empathise with her. Another thing that irritates me is that, even if the lead female character is a centuries old succubus or vampire or something, she still has the attitude of a modern twenty-something American female...

@Dawn, I'll check out Grimspace, thanks. Although he's not PNR/UF I think Charles Stross does first person present tense quite well in The Atrocity Archives. He manages to give his writing an immediacy, as if you're hearing and seeing something happening in the now and it doesn't jar at all.

Bianca wrote: "Books with cliche plotlines- rich boy/poor girl, player/goodgirl. The ones that takes 300 pages- of he likes me/he doesnt- just for the characters to act on their feelings."
I think a lot of this is forced by authors. Good writing is supposed to be character driven, i.e. the actions and situations in the book develop naturally out of the desires and personalities of the characters in it. However, quite often in romance the situation and emotions are forced on the characters and the writing ends up flat and unnatural and clichéd.

Thanks for the replies everyone, I enjoyed reading them :)

message 10: by Alisa (new)

Alisa | 973 comments Beth wrote: "Veronica Del Rosa wrote: "Constant head hopping."
I actually never noticed this as an issue until someone pointed it out in a Common Mistakes Writers Make article, but now that I do it irritates me..."

Yeah...I rarely read pnr anymore. I even find series that I used to love I can't stomach the new ones (ie Midnight Breed). There is still a lot of good UF out there though. And in UF I will often go a little lower on the age level of the heroine as they are usually tough and not fluffy, fragile types like you see in pnr and cont. romance.

message 11: by Mike (new)

Mike | 353 comments Definitely first person present tense, no one tells a story like that. Even when you are writing in a diary you don't. It is awkward to read and I wish it would fall back out of fashion. Stupid Hunger Games.

message 12: by Mike (new)

Mike | 353 comments A couple others are, will they/ won't they, couples. This has to happen over a few books but couples who go back and forth about being together or being in love with one another. Like on Castle or Bones. The other one is when an author changes a character into their polar opposite. The main author behind this being Laurell Hamilton and Anita Blake, though it has happened in other series.

message 13: by hIpnoticraQs (new)

hIpnoticraQs (raqnbelly) | 36 comments If there is too much world building and not enough story in the first third, then I'm done. Another thing is if there's too much internal dialogue from a whiney female main character.

message 14: by Angie (new)

Angie | 419 comments Okay, just about everything listed here is happening in the short story I'm reading right now. There's no world building at all, there's head hopping in the same paragraph, the heroine is a 19 year old virgin, the male character is abusive, degrading, just all around horrible to the girl because he had some kind of psychotic break 150 years before and it completely wiped out his personality, so the governing organization reprogrammed him into this super nice, religious man of virtue as an experiment, even though his real personality was what it is now. The girl met him and new him for seven years as the virtuous man, not knowing that this personality was not his true nature. It just goes on and on about not much of anything except how she can't resolve his true personality with the man she was in love with that's now gone from the same body. His issues are that he wants her, probably loves her as leftovers from the manufactured personality, but he hates her because she causes these feelings in him, so he finds every way possible to punish her for his feelings. But I can't stop reading it because I feel guilty that I was given the book as an ARC to honestly review, and how can I review it if I can't finish it. I keep telling myself that I'll read to the next chapter and if the story doesn't clear up (because other than her loving him unwillingly while hating him and him punishing her for his feelings, there seems to be no story), I'm going to stop reading. But then the guilt will hit again, so I keep reading. It's driving me crazy and something that I should have been able to read in a few hours has taken me days to get through because I keep procrastinating by playing solitaire or word search games. I've even told myself twice that I'm done with it and that I'm going to skip to the next story (it's in an anthology), but I end up continuing with this one. At this rate, I'm never going to finish!! Though my kindle does finally say I'm down to less than 2 hours, where it started at something like 7 hours. So I guess what I'm saying is that I hardly ever stop reading a book, my OCD demands that I do everything I can to finish it, plus I feel guilty that this is someone's blood, sweat and tears, that if they took the time to write it, I should be able to take the time to read it.
I will say first person present tense drives me batty, but it's usually not enough for me to stop with the book. Thank you Mike for saying Hunger Games is written that way, because I still haven't jumped on that bandwagon and now I probably never will!

message 15: by Alisa (new)

Alisa | 973 comments @Angie....the absolute worst are books you don't like that you are reviewing. I had one recently where I had to just skim the last 20%. I really try to read it all when I'm reviewing but I just couldn't take a second of it anymore.

message 16: by Angie (new)

Angie | 419 comments @Alisa- that's how this one was, but I was convinced there was going to be this AH HA! moment that would explain it all, but that never came. Maybe if I'd read the first one, which the author claimed people that had read both said they wished they'd read the one I did first, but it's not worth my time or money to buy that first one to be horribly disappointed in it too. Just glad it's over! The last story in the anthology was a great story, totally new, but believable types of vampires, but omg the editing! A little editing goes a loooonnnggggg way, especially for a self published or small publishing house book!!

message 17: by Dahrose (last edited Mar 21, 2015 03:57PM) (new)

Dahrose | 7 comments Just came across a book that completely did my head in and I came to a screeching halt at the 40% mark. I could deal with the POV changing chapter to chapter. But the timeline?
We start with our heroine finding a recently murdered victim late at night.
New chapter - new POV and now it is earlier in the afternoon before the murder.
Next chapter, back to first POV, police have arrived.
Next chapter, new character now it is the morning of the murder.
Next chapter - we stay with previous POV but it is now the afternoon of the murder again.
What the...?

message 18: by Karen (new)

Karen (karen_stewart) I hate when they write super short sentences. The sky was blue. The water was wet. I said "No that is not true." Talk to me like an adult, please! Also I hate whiny,indecisive main characters.

message 19: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. | 536 comments Karen wrote: "Also I hate whiny,indecisive main characters."

I really hate that in "heroines". Why would an author think, "Hmmm, I think she needs to be a lot more whiny and run from uncomfortable situations because she's scared she might get hurt 10 years from now." Drives me nuts!

message 20: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Caramels (thefrenchgirl) | 11 comments Karen wrote: "Also I hate whiny,indecisive main characters."
I hate it too!

1. Whiny, weak heroines or virginal heroines.
2. Cliché because usually the plot becomes predictable.

message 21: by Karen (new)

Karen (karen_stewart) Leslie wrote: "Karen wrote: "Also I hate whiny,indecisive main characters."
I hate it too!

1. Whiny, weak heroines or virginal heroines.
2. Cliché because usually the plot becomes predictable."


Gnome Claire *Wishes she was as cool as Gnome Ann* | 20 comments Yes to so many of these! Head hopping so you have no idea who's POV we are seeing at the moment drives me bonkers, odd tenses and switching between narrative viewpoint is really off putting (I hate it when there is a narrator who makes odd first or second person comments in the middle of third person narration). I generally dislike experimental narrative, it doesn't flow right and if you have to spend time getting your head around what POV or tense is being used your not concentrating on the story.

I also dislike factual errors, I know it's pedantic but when it's 'your subject' something that you know a lot about it's really off putting (I do a lot of sailing and it seems to be something that trips a lot of authors up and they write things that are impossible, it's on the level of writing about someone throwing a bouncy ball and it defying all the laws of physics, it's just wrong).

Also one thing I really really hate is violence against women being used as a plot point or for a (usually male) character's backstory (see women in refrigerators) if it's done well then I will read it but when it's done badly it just trivialises it.

I generally dislike anything that comes across as anti-women, abusive relationships being portrayed as romantic, slut shaming ect.

message 23: by Tasula (new)

Tasula | 12 comments I agree with almost ALL the comments- there really are a lot of reasons to NOT finish some books. But probably my most common are (may be nothing new here):
-TSTL heroines (goes with the whiny, virginal, weak)
-terrible writing (repetitiveness, telling, irrelevant details- some writers think they get paid by the word)
-really loathsome characters (sometimes a characters is just so awful I can't read about him/her anymore- White Horse is a book for example- "the Swiss" is just despicable, and BTW the heroine is TSTL)

message 24: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Fox (carmenfox) | 1 comments I have a pretty high tolerance level. I can live with typos and 'simple' writing if the story compels me. I can live with a straight-forward plot if the characters are three-dimensional. I can even live with dislikeable characters if the writing makes up for it. But if more than two of these are off, or one is done to excess, I'm done.

Here's what confuses me. One of mine and some author friends' books have been criticised for a plot that is 'everywhere.' On digging deeper, we found this is code for two or more plot threads being interwoven. They preferred straight-forward mysteries.

Indeed, many reader friends say that with more and more books being released every month, they prefer to know exactly what they're getting before they get started, just so they avoid the dreaded unfinished book. Does it have a happily ever after? How long before the couple get together? How spicy does the intimacy get? How much humor does it contain? How guessable is the mystery?

I prefer to go in blind, perhaps with a blurb or a cover as guidance. But do others feel the same way? How much do you need to know before you dive into a book?

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