SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Why readers abandon a book...

Discussion started on

Goodreads posted the results of a survey about why readers abandon a book:

I'm assuming most, if not all, of the responses were from adults, but still interesting that boredom/slowness was #1. It would certainly top my list...
#1 - July 09, 2013, 03:56 PM

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region inlandnw
It tops my list as well, along with too much description.   :uhuh
#2 - July 09, 2013, 04:34 PM
A Smidgen of Sky (Harcourt 2012)
A Sliver of Sun (book #2)
 A Million Ways Home (Scholastic 2014)
Just Left of Lucky (2018)

I sometime abandon a book when the story is told through too many POV. This tends to slow the story down a bit and I don't always care about some of the characters whose POV I have to endure.

I find the one comment for when to abandon a book (100 pages minus your age) interesting as I tend to read about fifty odd pages before giving up on a book.
#3 - July 09, 2013, 05:09 PM
The Last Station Master, Feb. 2013

  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region houston
I chuckled at the infographic because I, too, very quickly gave up The Casual Vacancy.

Shelliep & Dianna: You would both hate A Game of Thrones, I suppose. The series goes through a few dozen POVs and George R.R. Martin describes everything anyone eats or wears in painfully unnecessary detail. But, inexplicably, I can't put it down.
#4 - July 09, 2013, 06:07 PM

I tend to abandon books very early--after the first chapter or even the first page if it doesn't grab me.
The thing that grabs me the most is a strong voice and an interesting mc that I can relate to in some way.

I agree with Shellie. It's rare that I love multiple POV; usually I can't wait to get back to the POV I really like.
#5 - July 09, 2013, 08:57 PM

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region indiana
I mostly finish the books I read.  However, I am never wont to buy books because they are a 'best seller' or on the name that list 'to be read' books.

I read Catch-22 and finished it because it was required reading for some class and hated it.  Otherwise I would have never picked the book up to begin with, not my type of book.  I did read a portion of the Lord of Rings Trilogy to try and figure out why so many people loved it, must have been book one - meh, not my type of book. But I did finish it and do know enough that I know some of the characters. 

The others they showed, have no interest.  One of the books that my parents have on their book shelves is War and Peace.  I call this my Blizzard book.  There probably is a book mark inside it, but I find I usually have to start over.  Never have been able to wrap my mind around that book to finish it.  It was definitely my desperation book for when we were stuck in the house and I had read everything else I could put my hands on. 

Now that I own an e-reader, not a problem. 

Reasons I put down books, poorly written, badly researched, big mistakes that make me want to scream "You can't do that, that is so wrong!" and extremely boring.
#6 - July 10, 2013, 11:26 AM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

Roving Moderator
Poster Plus
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region socal
I'm not a huge fan of multiple POV's either, but I do enjoy a well written omniscient POV. I haven't considered why until now, but maybe it's because a multiple POV so often backtracks over the same material, and, typically, omniscient still moves the story along. I'll have to give it some more thought, but it's nice to know I'm not alone in my feelings.

I rarely abandon a book, but when I do it's usually because I'm bored. Bad writing also drives my up the wall. I stick with it for about 100 pages though, hoping it will get better.
#7 - July 10, 2013, 11:29 AM

I thought the "NOT THE MUSICAL" reason for abandoning Wicked was hilarious, just because you would so expect one of the top reasons in general to be "NOT THE MOVIE," and for just about every book ever.

Looking at this infographic made me think about why I used to abandon books as a kid....and one of the reasons I used to abandon them early on is not listed: "confusing." If I found something in the beginning confusing - and not "mysterious confusing" but just "don't get what's going on" confusing - it was out. Not surprising that this isn't there in a poll of adults, but it's still interesting to think about.
#8 - July 10, 2013, 01:41 PM

I'm left wondering what makes a book "boring" or "stupid" to the people polled. Is boring another way of saying the plot isn't forming quickly enough, or that the stakes aren't high enough? Or are readers finding they don't care about the main character but don't realize that's why they feel the book is boring? Could it be that the topic/premise/genre doesn't interest them? "Boring" is just so vague a term...
#9 - July 10, 2013, 09:48 PM
The Echo Room (Tor Teen, 2018)
Where Futures End (Penguin, 2016)

I'm finding I'm more likely to abandon a book on my Kobo - for some reason holding a book in my hands still seems like a more worthy investment of time. Anybody else notice that?
#10 - July 11, 2013, 04:59 AM
2019, Dancing with Daisy (PB)
2019, Say What You Mean (MG)
2018, Talking to the Moon (MG)
2018, A Halifax Time-Travelling Tune (PB)

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region florida
Interesting. I also think that if the author doesn't give me a reason to keep reading, I lose interest. There has to be a question I want answered, a problem that needs to be solved or a mystery that needs to be unraveled.
#11 - July 11, 2013, 05:06 AM
The GILDED series (Skyscape/ACP)
Twitter @ChristinaFarley

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region rmc
"Weak writing" has to top my list. But it has to be "weak" in all measures - storytelling, plot spinning, language, character development. If the book has at least one of these done really well, I'll hang on until the end.
#12 - July 11, 2013, 07:28 AM
Jean Reidy
Coming soon: Pup 681, Truman, When the Snow is Deeper Than My Boots Are Tall, Group Hug , Specs and Specs II.
Others at

Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region dakotas
If I can't find a character to like. Or if I can't find a main character. Er, sadly, that was my reason for giving up on The Casual Vacancy. I know it was trying to say something important, but I never figured out who the actual main character was, and I didn't actually like any of the other ones.

When the book takes on a very quaint or condescending attitude towards a particular group of people. Er, especially if it's set in the south and the word "y'all" is misused on every page.

Also, if the MC is too stupid to live. I did finish them, but I can think of a couple of recent YAs whose MC stupidly allowed herself to be impressed by the obvious villain and stupidly trusted him despite all evidence to the contrary (um, because the author thought they had to include a love triangle because it was YA??). Or one where the MC, supposedly smart otherwise, lets herself be jerked around by the supposed love interest to levels of physical violence, and comes back every time with, oh, that's okay... (no, the love interest in the book I'm thinking of is not named Edward...) I recently abandoned a series because while the first book spends its time getting to wounded characters to love and trust each other, the MC literally hops in bed with the enemy (a really, really creepy and evil enemy!) in the second book. What??!

Also, a historical book with too much social anachronism. Throwing in 21st century social norms and making everyone in the imaginary historical world totally okay with it? Not.

No story. I like pretty writing, but only with a story attached. Also, you can have a lot of "things" happening and still have no story. One I threw against the wall was well praised, but the MC did not actually DO anything for SEVEN CHAPTERS.

If a spoiler reveals that the characters all lose/die at the end (if it's not clearly from the outset supposed to be a book about a death and how people deal with it). I don't want to cheer for characters to win for 300 pages, only to have them lose at the end.
#13 - July 11, 2013, 07:53 AM

I like to get a sense of the main dramatic question relatively early on.
-Will she survive?
-Will they get together?
-Will he figure out who stole the thingy?

But I also want to care about the answer to that question. Meaning I have to feel like the question is "big" enough (stakes) and I have to feel like I want to follow the character through to the answer (compelling character).
#14 - July 11, 2013, 09:54 AM
The Echo Room (Tor Teen, 2018)
Where Futures End (Penguin, 2016)

I normally try to finish all the books,but I loose a lot of times choosing one:) Sometimes happen that after the first page (I try anyway to finish the first chapter) I don't find a reason to go on and so I abondon it.The reason most of the times is beacuse there isn't an interesting character or because the writing isn't fluid( I hope it's the right word in english).
#15 - July 11, 2013, 11:55 AM

Jancoats, I'm more likely to abandon a book on an electronic device too. But that could be because I buy the physical book if I think I'll like the story and therefore give it a longer read. I download an e-book when I'm rolling the dice and it seems I won't lose that much money if it's truly bad.
#16 - July 11, 2013, 01:06 PM
The Last Station Master, Feb. 2013

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region indiana
I have trashed physical books as easily as I have e-books. Some books are just too lame to take up space in my house. 

Some of those books I have finished because I was asked to review them, they are residing either at someone else's house at the moment and then I will give the public library a chance at keeping them (a good place where I send children's books I don't like, but someone else may).  Others that I refuse to pass on to the library I send to Goodwill and I have even recycled one, thinking no one deserves to be put through this nonsense.

Of course most of the e-books I delete I do so with a bit of a cringe because it seems no one will get any use out of it, others I say good riddance too.  Some of those have been the free to $3.00 books and I think no wonder it was a bargain book.  :aah
#17 - July 11, 2013, 03:06 PM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

I have even recycled one, thinking no one deserves to be put through this nonsense.

Ha-ha! In general, I'm against book burning, but I have seen a few...
#18 - July 11, 2013, 03:27 PM
The Last Station Master, Feb. 2013

Quietly going about the business of being awesome
Poster Plus

When I can figure out what's going to happen 100 pages before it happens but the MC is lagging behind me ... sigh. I want to be utterly confounded, bamboozled, misdirected, etc. plot-wise or else I lose interest.

I wonder if that's a function of being a writer ("Man, I could write this stuff myself"), although I do see it mentioned often in reviews so maybe not.

Invariably bad reviews mention slowness as a big issue. I feel like I have a huge tolerance for slowness but everyone has his/her own speed limit below which they cannot go.

Oh! And also, when characters act one way in one chapter and then completely the opposite in another because the plot demands it-- bleh. That bugs me big time.

#19 - July 11, 2013, 04:41 PM
Kristen Lippert-Martin
TABULA RASA -- EgmontUSA Fall 2014
Twitter ID: @KLipMart

Roving Moderator
Poster Plus
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region socal
There has to be someone I like.
#20 - July 11, 2013, 05:02 PM

Owl Princess
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region canadaeast
- no plot, or a too slow-moving plot - I can think of a trilogy that really should have been a duet but seemingly got padded out to become three books.

- excessive description - I often find myself skipping over paragraphs of description, even in mysteries. Then I have to go back and reread to find important clues. This kills the suspense and pace.

- main character isn't likeable

- poor editing or copy editing - Although this isn't usually the writer's fault, I have stopped reading books when there are too many obvious mistakes.

- didacticism
#21 - July 11, 2013, 07:52 PM

Barb  :owl



No quickly and easily discernible plot drives me bonkers and I quickly wave bye bye to the booky :)

#22 - July 12, 2013, 11:25 AM

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region cencal
I usually give a book fifty pages before I give up on it.

Fiction: If the story isn't believable, if the style is off-putting or pretentious, too much telling not enough showing, boring and wordy, too predictable, clunky writing--any of those will do it. Some books are poorly written, but the story is fascinating--so I'll keep reading. Or if the writing is fantastic, I might put up with a slow plot.

Memoirs: Lately I've been reading memoirs with a narrator who doesn't seem to be telling the whole truth. I'll usually finish this kind of book anyway. Sometimes a book will get better in the second half.

Nonfiction: I read a lot of science and some history--but I don't like nonfiction that's too technical or academic. It has to be concise and have something interesting and relevant to say.

And nothing is more infuriating than a book that's deadly dull but has a whole slew of five star reviews on Amazon. (I've been fooled more than once.)
#23 - July 12, 2013, 01:09 PM


0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.