Today, I’m going talk about something that I find very difficult: knowing when to give up on books. Why? Well, for one, it is something that I genuinely do struggle with often. Usually, I consider it a matter of principle to not give up on books, no matter how bored I am, or how much I’m not enjoying it. If I was less generous with books, I know for a fact that many books I have recently read and not enjoyed would have been abandoned by me within the first few pages. I can usually tell within the first few pages of a book whether or not I will enjoy a book, and more often than not, I am right. Second, I’m currently reading A Court of Wings and Ruin, which in case you don’t know, is the third book in a trilogy that I have, until now, read despite finding seriously boring and disappointing. Sensing that this would probably take me a while to finish, I thought I should probably write something to post before this blog went weeks without an update, and so here I am!
So far this year, I have only abandoned one book. That book was All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West. In my defence, I picked up this book without even reading the blurb, simply because I was intrigued by the author due to my own fascination with Virginia Woolf. I was excited to pick it up, and then I started reading it only to discover that it was about an elderly widow. What else was it about? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. I read about fifty pages during which the protagonist decided that she was going to move out on her own, a decision which her children vehemently opposed. She spent pages and pages becoming friends with her new landlord, and discussing her various disappointing children. I was bored out of my mind, and the lack of a clear plot made it literally impossible for me to continue.
This, I believe, is my limit. I can make it through the most boring or badly written novels if I have an idea of what is going to happen, or at least, what the point of the story is. I have struggled through many books but still finished them. I didn’t enjoy the writing Things A Bright Girl Can Do at all, but I was intrigued in the stories of the three girls, and the subject matter made me interested in the portrayal of historical events. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell was difficult for me to enjoy because the story felt like it was stuck in the same position for the majority of the novel, and I was sick of it to progress (it eventually did, but entirely within the last few chapters). Cloud Atlas was an interesting concept, and had beautifully written passages, but the story was so convoluted and confusing that I actually slipped an entire section. Even once I had finished, I felt a little confused about the whole thing, despite being pleased that I had made it through.
On the other hand, there are stories which I have found to be slow, and yet continued reading. I still haven’t read The Return of the King, but I trudged my way through the first two instalments of Lord of the Rings because I wanted to know how the characters won. I loved American Gods despite its huge size and sometimes slow parts because I adore Neil Gaiman’s writing style and feel confident that sticking with his novels will be worth it. The ACOTAR series by Sarah J. Maas is, in my opinion, slow and convoluted, with too many YA fantasy cliches for my liking, but I have constantly forced myself through the books because I want to know where the story is headed. Slow parts in these books were made slightly more bearable by the writing style, which I enjoyed. There were passages which gripped my attention, phrases and sentences that felt refreshing despite the slow plot.
So what is more important? Quality of writing or plot? I’m not sure that I can confidently say when the right time is for me to officially decide to put down a book for good. My experiences tell me that I cannot bear reading a book when I don’t see any progression in plot or any point to the story, but I have also trudged through many books like this. I would love to get to the bottom of this question – perhaps there is a formula to explain when I have reached my limit? Unfortunately, however, I am not a mathematician, so I guess this will remain unknown for now.
In the meantime, why don’t you tell me when you decide there’s no hope for a book? Have you given up on any books recently and why? Or are there any books that you wanted to give up and finished? Did you enjoy it eventually or not?