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What makes you give up on a book?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Ghost, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

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    I used to be a very forgiving reader. Even if a book wasn't good, I'd keep reading for my own sense of closure.

    Not so anymore.

    Perhaps I've lost patience as I got older or there are too many alternatives to waste my time, but I will drop a book if isn't entertaining me. Books with annoying, stupid, or boring characters get returned to the library or given to Goodwill. Forget closure. I'm not as forgiving anymore.

    This makes me wonder why other people give up. Why do you quit reading a book?
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I am also a lot quicker to give up on a book than I used to be. Unfortunately, it is hard to quantify exactly what makes me stop reading. What is boils down to, ultimately, is that I lose interest. I will read a book all the way through regardless of genre and style (wordy, lean, POV, etc) if the author holds my interest. If the author does not, I'll put it down, regardless of any of these factors. Typically, I find that the characters and events fail to hold my interest.

    I find that I put many books down in the middle. That probably accounts for 90% of the books I start and fail to finish. They start off good, maybe I like the premise, the characters are interesting, and there is good conflict. For all I know the conclusion may be great as well, but I never get that far. Instead, the narrative seems to wander in the middle. Events aren't interesting, or the author starts pursuing side plots that don't hold my interest, straying too far from the primary story.

    Middles are a big problem.
     
  3. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I quit reading a book one time in chapter 1. HAHAHA talk about unforgiving. It was the premise of the character's story I hated, and couldn't make it past a few pages. That being said, I do try to give a book the benefit of the doubt, and sometimes if I can't get right into a novel, I put it back on the shelf and try it again in the future. Sometimes I want a light book (a couple hundred pages) to just read in a day, and sometimes I want something thicker to keep me busy for a week. Sometimes I want a fun tale with a cast of humorous characters to just make me laugh, and sometimes I want to watch someone suffer and overcome great adversity.

    I think each book serves a purpose, and I'm usually pretty forgiving, but there's some books I have lost all taste for (and I usually read ANYTHING). That being said, I usually buy books second-hand and it stings less when you hate them. If I was paying a premium price and in line to be a first reader... well I'd feel insulted and ripped off if a book failed to do it for me.

    The things that make me throw up in my mouth a little:

    1. When the main character is a gorgeous virgin who's been locked away from the world by her father because she's just so damn pretty men will lose their minds upon seeing her. Yeah I hate that. Rarely does she have anything to offer to the tale.

    2. When an author has self-indulged too much: written their story in elvish, written a stream of constant profanity, a cover-to-cover smutfest, or something similar that makes the story insignificant.

    3. This is the worst, but unfortunately you don't see it coming. The epic awesomeness of the story is cheapened into seething reeling hatred by an ending so un-epic I feel like ripping the book apart in a vain attempt to give it a better end. Nothing is worse than falling in love with characters and their quests and personal growth, only to have the end spoiled by something like: "And then a dragon swoops down and burns up all the bad guys and everyone lives happily ever after. Sorry folks, Harry Potter did this to me to some degree, and I still feel burned. I think sometimes the ending just needs to be the mention of rebuilding a fallen world/kingdom, not that everyone marries their sweetheart and has a great life. Oh and that made me think of another:

    4. When the development of a story is SO good, and you're way into the characters and love the setting and struggles. And then halfway through it's like the author lost their vision, had to make a deadline, threw some directionless boring crap in (and probably something shocking, because that ALWAYS makes a wounded story heal up right-quick) and the second half might as well be the doggy bag after a four star meal.

    Yeah this thread really does strike a nerve doesn't it? There's not much as bad as feeling deeply disappointed with a book you had high hopes for.
     
  4. Sinitar

    Sinitar Minstrel

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    I seldom stop reading books, simply because I'm too stubborn to give up on something which has already devoured a portion of my free time.

    For the sake of this topic, I'll comply. One of my pet peeves is dull introductory chapters. The ones filled with description are even more irritating, as they insist on feeding me information I do not want to digest yet. Excuse me, but I'd like a reason to immerse into the story before getting acquainted with every character and their mother. It's unfortunate that a good number of books have a slow start, even though their positive reception states otherwise.

    So, redundancy is a no no for me, and it is quickly followed by a lack of cohesiveness. The main problem with the latter is that the author dumps several characters into the fray with the promise of linking their story lines later. I cannot emphasize just how infuriating this technique is. There is no bigger cheat than forcing your reader to wade through that pile of boring crap just for the sake of knowledge. And this knowledge may or may not prove useful.

    Cristopher's Paolini's Inheritance serves as a good example for my last paragraph. Roran's arc filled 100 pages or so for the sake of word count. That's right, that guy had NO contribution plot-wise.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
  5. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    I don't like books that turn out to be nothing but a lame framework for kinky porn. Not that I necessarily object to a few sex scenes in a book- but if it's a fantasy story, call it a fantasy story, and if it's porn, call it porn. If it turns out to be porn masquerading as an actual story, with an actual plot and actual character development, I feel like I've been duped.

    Also, a female "fighter" wearing a chain mail bikini on the cover is an automatic pass. Which is unfortunate in a way, since I know that authors don't often have control over what's on the cover, and the cover often does not reflect the book very well. But chain mail bikinis are just so irritating that I don't even want to bother. It annoys the crap out of me to see female fighters wearing things that are completely impractical for fighting in. DOUBLE thumbs down if she's wearing a chainmail bikini in a snowy mountain setting. For cripe's sake. :rolleyes:
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    What if it is magical and not only provides superior protection against foes but keeps her warm? :D
     
  7. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Then it ought to glow on the cover, I think. HAHA!
     
  8. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    I've dropped a lot of books, mostly because I get distracted by some other story or school/work/my own writing gets in the way. But here are two big instances I can think of:

    1. I stopped reading Ed Greenwood's 'Elminster, the Making of a Mage' on page 27. I know the exact page and sentence because I checked it write before I started doing this post. We have an epic story about a dragon, a young man and the possibility of a decent plot. Next thing we know we're a few years on, the character is living in the woods and he's arguing with some characters who don't matter to the main plot of his books (I know this, as it's a prequel) and have walking targets on their back.

    It's a story about a mage learning his craft. That's what I want to read. I don't want to hear about his time with bandits or the long, slow build up to actually meeting the wizard who trains him. Start me at the dragon attack, move on to the wizard and fill in the rest with dialogue.

    2. Atlas Shrugged. After reading Anthem I thought, hey, I might like Rand's stuff. Four hundred odd pages later, I just have to put it down in disgust. I've never read anything more self-gratifying in my life (and I read a lot of political stuff), and the content was just blech.
     
  9. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    Oh, and two others I just have to mention.

    3. I started Wheel of Time with the prequel (I know, bad idea) and just had to give it up. I was a huge fan of Jordan's run on the Conan stories, but I didn't get that same kind of feel from Wheel of Time. Also, it's about a Wheel of Time. I get it. I really do. I didn't make it through the first ten pages.

    4. Piers Anthony's Xanth series. I hear this is fantastic, but I'll never know. As soon as I learned the main character was named Bink I lost any and all drive to read it.
     
  10. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Tell me about it. I read the series many years ago, and I loved the stories for the most part, but the names were in two categories for me: bad and worse. Too bad, because I really enjoyed the writing and the cleverness of some of the adventures..... also, the horribly punning that got over the top in a few of those... I hate all puns now because of that series (which is still one of my favorites).
     
  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Plus, Greenwood is a crappy writer.

    I did like Atlas Shrugged, however ;)
     
  12. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Elminster, that sounds familiar. I think I read some of that series. Is it older? The fact that I haven't re-read it is enough for me to presume I wasn't enthralled the first time. :) I have a bookshelf in my den with all me very favorite books to re-read on it. I might start a new thread about that. I wonder what's on people's re-read lists.
     
  13. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

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    I don't usually give up on books, but I think I will give up the one I'm currently reading (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). I started it almost two weeks ago, and I don't think I'm past chapter one. I just haven't been interested in reading. I do want to finish it because I hear its a good series and I want to see the movie... Maybe I will just postpone it until the summer.

    The Xanth books were pretty good though I haven't read some of the more recent ones. Also just so you know Bink is only the main character for Books one and two and slowly fades away in later books...
     
  14. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    As far as Xanth, I personally love Nightmare and Ogre ogre the best. Both were really well done and made me cry (a definite plus if I'm moved by words on a page, I think). Some of the later ones got silly, especially with the puns.

    Oh man Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is SO good. I haven't watched the English movies yet, are they out? Well whatever, I watched the Swedish one and it was Freaking AWESOME.
     
  15. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

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    The first one is out on DVD I think, it has Daniel Craig in it. What I've read of the book, all 10 pages, is good. I just haven't been compelled to continue reading.
     
  16. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    I used to be pretty forgiving too. But I've become more aware of what kind of book I'm reading. I think simple page turners that you read and forget have their place. Sometimes I'll finish a bad book just to study why it's bad and think of ways to fix the book. But there's only one sure fire way to get me to put down a book and that's stupidity and all it's forms: a supposedly smart character making stupid choices without just cause, stupid reasoning to justify actions that the plot needs, and stupidity/laziness of the author who speaks authoratively on a subject they obviously know nothing about. Those things get the eye roll and the mumble of Bullsh!% right before I toss the book across the room. I can forgive plot holes. I can forgive average prose and average characters. But when the author tries to slip something stupid by the reader, it tells me they think the reader is stupid, and the author can't be trusted not to cheat in their story to achieve the ending. Boo-erns to that.
     
  17. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I used to read out of stubbornness. Then in college I had a friend who taught me how to walk out of movies, and if I can manage that a few times, I can put a book down.

    But I don't, really, because I like to read classics and books that are widely well-received. I usually know what I'm getting into before I pick the book up. And if I don't, I'm pretty picky about that opening page and the random words-in-the-middle.

    So most of the time, if I've already invested in the thing, I find myself putting books down because they crawl into that dark, hopeless place I don't care to venture in to. Killing can be happy, and everyone has conflicts to overcome. But when there is sheer hopelessness, or things like rape, heavy-addictions, and abusive relationships, I just don't want to read it. I know that those things can be "real" (though I hate when people act like anything else isn't real), but if I'm going to put myself through the experience of reading such things, I think I'd rather read a memoir or a true story and feel that bad for real people.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
  18. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    It's a fairly large series - It's the series of books that Dungeons & Dragons based the Forgotten Realms on, so the character of Elminster makes cameos in a lot of their works. He's referenced in a few of R. A. Salvatore's books, and he pops in and out of the Baldur's Gate games.
     
  19. Phin Scardaw

    Phin Scardaw Troubadour

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    dullness of style, lack of originality, stereotypes - these things are turn-offs

    it's called FANTASY isn't it? the only limits are one's imagination. why then are the same themes rehashed with the same races? surely we can dream up something more than elves, dwarves and men battling goblins and dragons.

    in my opinion one of the most masterful fantasy writers is John Crowley. His novels "The Deep" and "Engine Summer" prove that fantasy stories don't need to take place on planets which are round like ours, nor on worlds other than our own. his style is also remarkably well-honed and his ideas are truly fantastic.

    i find that since reading works like his and LeGuin, Gaiman, and Gibson my standards have gotten high enough that i have very little patience for generic fantasy novels written with no creativity in style or literary depth that tell predictable tales. i really enjoyed certain series in my youth such as the DragonLance Chronicles, but i sincerely doubt i would derive the same pleasure from them now as i did when i was sixteen.
     
  20. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    I have given up on only two series: one by Terry Goodkind and the other by RA Salvatore. With Terry Goodkind I felt he was a propagandist for democracy. He kept on shoving real world political views down my throat in such a clumsy manner I couldn't stand it. Also everything was predictable. Blah blah captured blah blah escape blah blah love. It took me five books to figure that out.

    RA Salvatore I used to like when I a teenager. When I picked him back up in my late twenties I seriously questioned my mental capacity at the age of seventeen. Again he was predictable and every character was cookie cutter.
     
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