Recently an interesting infographic has been circulating from Goodreads. Elizabeth K. Chandler tried to sort out why readers continue reading or give up on a book, peppered with interesting quotes from a few of the participants. It caused me to reflect on the books I've given up this year.
I came up with eight books I'd given up this year. While I probably forgot a few in-between, it was a helpful exercise. I won't name the offenders because I don't want my reasons mistaken for reviews or to even put potential readers off the given books. This is only an experiment in the things that set me off of something, sometimes temporarily, but mostly personally.
1. The most recent abandonment was last week. I had a free day, rolled the dice on a very short book. Opened like a Star Trek: TNG teleplay, filling in the gaps with gobs of generic setting description. Space war stories aren't my thing anyway, and this kind of dialogue doesn't work when Patrick Stewart isn't performing it.
2. Gave another YA novel a shot, this one by an exceptionally gifted novelist. Gave it 150 pages; did nothing badly, prose stronger than average YA, but did nothing particularly well either. Characters were all simple, no humor, minimal stakes, and the world seemed very big but with no interesting things in its breadth. Not bad; just not for me.
3. Short story anthology. The stories I read were all very rich and provocative, and I was just too exhausted from my week to give them their due. Had to return to library unfinished. Entirely my bad. Will check it out again later.
4. Too heavily reliant on dialogue, and specifically banter that never landed for me. The tedium of jokes that weren't funny built up until I re-shelved the book. Could have been my mood. Will give the author another shot some day.
5. Classic Fantasy novel that lured me in with its reputation. Opened with an amnesia trope – unappealing, but probably wasn't overdone in its time. Amnesiac is then insufferably selfish and violent, and surrounded by people in the know who won't tell him anything. Don't care about him, insulted by the presentation of the plot. Back on the shelf it goes for another try some day.
6. Horror novel with a sociopathic hero. Generic prose, tried to get into it for the story. Sociopath tells psychiatrist he thinks he's a sociopath because he thinks about serial killers; psychiatrist instantly believes him. Made me twitch severely. Entire family then convinced in hackneyed argument, during which hero both defines sociopathy as inability to perceive or read emotions, and then perceives family having emotions and actively manipulates them for his benefit. Book has no irony. Threw the book at the ground.
7. It tried to open with shock, with gore and uncomfortable injuries and a survivor having to eat offal to survive. That sort of shock intro seldom works on me. Then it switched point of view to a sexy girl who promptly stripped and tried to seduce someone into boinking in her pool. The one-two punch of fake maturity.
8. Had a hazard, as the author already had one strike with me for an unentertaining previous book. This one sported a first person point of view, the narrator someone sounding like someone I would make excuses to get away from at a party. Not something I could put up with at the time.
If you can think of any recent abandonments on your own part, I'd be very interested to read about them in the Comments. What made you give up on a book most recently?