Allow me to set the scene: You’re on page 98, about a quarter of the way in. The story started well – intriguing premise, characters with potential, even a few snappy one-liners. But as the pages went on, that intriguing premise got left behind, the characters now have more marshmallows in their heads than brains, and those one-liners have gone from snappy to crappy.
It’s not alllll bad… There are a few parts you like. Maybe you’re just in a slow spot. But slogging through is such a chore…
So what do you do? Read or flee? Finish or banish?
This can be a tough call for me. On the one hand, there are too many excellent books in the world to waste time on a dud. I’m not the kind of reader who finishes no matter what. If I’m struggling to get to the end of each page, much less the end of each chapter, then the decision is easy. Banished!
But sometimes it’s not so easy. Maybe I like the characters but the prose is a drag. Maybe the plot’s become a bore, but I want to see how it wraps up. Maybe I feel obligated (the book was a gift, or important to my genre as an author). Maybe I’m just too optimistic in thinking, “It’ll get better soon, right??”
How far I am into the book doesn’t really help matters. If I dislike it early on, I might say, “Well clearly this book isn’t for me,” but sometimes I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. If I’m a significant way through, I might say, “Well I gave it more than enough chance!” or I might press on because it seems silly to stop so close to the end. All depends on my mood.
As my to-read pile grows taller and more precarious, I’ve become more ruthless in my cuts. If my predominant emotion is a resounding “mehhh,” then out it goes. There are too many other great books waiting for me.
Tell me, how do you decide whether to stop or keep reading?