What Happens When You Don’t Like The Book You’re Reading?

The big question, what do you do when you don’t like the book you’re reading? There are so many different options, but I’m sure each of you have certain criteria whether or not the book you’re reading is worth your time. I’m going to share with you my process, when it comes to that dreaded choice of “do I keep reading this book?”

Now this has happened to me quite recently, I picked up a book I bought quite a while ago and thought “Hey Craig, you know what would be fun to read? This book thats been in your to read pile for a while now!” and I replied “Hey Craig, that does sound like a good idea, maybe I’ll give it a go.” So I picked up a science fiction book and started to read it on my commute to work. Now I don’t know if it was because I had just read Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins and thoroughly enjoyed it (Pssst, Craig maybe you should write a review?). Tom Robbins has such a particular way of writing, that in a sense spoils other types of writing. Now I’m not blaming Tom for my non enjoyment of this science fiction book, but I feel like being so spoilt with such good writing and such great concepts that something that reads very much like a forced sci-fi action adventure, where the dialogue was stiff, the plot points predictable and the characters unlikable with no redeeming features, is not worth my time. Now I don’t want to name and shame this book, because it might be right up some people’s streets, but for me it did not hook me in.

Now I usually have a few steps that I go through when reading a new book, especially if I know I’m not enjoying it.

1) Read at least 100 pages. I want the book to get into the flow of things, let the characters finish their introductions and start doing things. It usually gives the plot a chance to get moving and hopefully something big happens that hooks me into reading further.

2) Am I reluctant to read it? I’m sure everyone has had the experience when reading, that looking through Twitter seems way more interesting than reading the next few pages. Especially if its my commuting book, I’d rather read a book than scroll through my phone on the train.

3) Do I like any of the characters/care what happens to them? This is pretty important.You don’t want a character who you find so boring that your mind wanders whilst reading. I want to be able to relate to the main character, or at least be interested in what they’re going through.

4) Do I want to put it down? This is a no brainer, if the book sticks to my hands and refuses to let my eyes shift away from the page, then it’s a keeper.

I put down this science fiction novel, it sounded so good when I bought it. Yet it didn’t meet any of these criteria. I read nearly 200 pages of the novel, and decided to stop reading. Life is too short to read books that you’re not enjoying, and that is one of the best lessons I learnt whilst working at a bookstore. Surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of books you can only read so many and why not make sure they’re the good ones? I picked up Kafka On The Shore by Murakami afterwards, and so far so good. I look forward to my commutes because I get to read this book, I am so intrigued by what this book holds that I don’t want to put it down when I come to my stop. It’s my first Murakami novel, and I am definitely on board the hype train.

If you have a process of weeding out the books you don’t like, what is it? Do you have certain criteria?

Thanks for reading!


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