What Makes You Put Down a Book?

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I put down three books recently. The first, to be fair, wasn't really my thing. It was well written, but the storyline stretched my limits.

The second had a great premise, but pages and pages of nothing happening.

The third almost hit the wall.

Something happened in the story that was never explained. It was REPEATED, and it served the plot, but there wasn't even a phrase that told why it happened. No matter what else happened in the book, I couldn't pay attention, because I WANTED TO KNOW WHY. Drove me batty. And then another thing happened, or didn't happen, I don't remember now, but again, no explanation. I put the book down.

I'm not asking for paragraphs or pages. Just a few words.

Here's the sad bit. Back in the day, I would have finished them because they are books and I love books. But now I have (gulp) almost 200 books in my TBR. A three book shelf full, 6 stacks in another bookshelf and another shelf in the bedroom. I have books by friends that I haven't read yet. I'm behind in series. So I don't usually go past p. 50 on a book that bugs me. These three all made it to page 100 before I gave up. Over the summer, one book barely made it to page 20. Sheesh, that was a silly book.

And I'll admit, I asked myself, why do these get published and mine don't? Well, they did have sexual tension. Inappropriate, sometimes, but it was there.

Okay, REALLY off to the grocery store now, then I'm coming home to work on Breaking Dawn. What makes you put a book down?

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Stephanie said...

This is a subject that haunts me too. How does some of this stuff get published??

I began reading SIze 12 is Not Fat, one of the freebies from the conference, read half and simply couldn't read more. It was boring, and too much of a mix of YA and chick lit. Might be good for a twenty year-old to read.

Other books that "have hit the wall" recently despite being supposedly being good:

- the two books of Nora Roberts I've tried to read
- The Jinx, by Jennifer Sturman
- Puppet, by Joy Fielding (previously one of my favorite authors)
- almost all of the freebies we got from the conference (guess that's why they were freebies)

It's frustrating as a writer to know this stuff gets pubbed, but then again, if some publisher is buying this, then there's hope for me.... : )

Marianne Arkins said...

I probably only get through every third or fourth book that I start. I used to be like you -- read it to the bitter end, but I just don't have the time to waste any more.

And I also wonder why so much CRAP gets published when I've read such amazing work from some of the unpubbed writers I know who get turned down again and again.

Frustrating. Very frustrating. But it's why, when I do read a book I enjoy, I put it on the blog. If you do managed to hold my attention, and hold it well, until the end -- and, especially if you leave me wanting more, you deserve a big pat on the back.

KATZ said...

I refuse to waste precious time on a book that doesn't capture my emotions and draw me in.

As a writer now, I can appreciate when an author makes me forget about craft and everything else and just whisks me away with their characters.

It probably is every 3rd or 4th book that I finish reading all the way through, too...glad to know I'm not the only one who doesn't finish books.

A lot if it, I think, is the ability of published authors, once you are multipublished, to continue to BE published, even if the book was never really edited, or even read by an editor...But then we hear so much about how difficult the market is right now, so you have to wonder...

Anonymous said...

I recently tried to read this action/adventure (so they claimed, anyway) supposedly similar to The Da Vinci Code. It was SOOOO boring. And I had no connection to the main protagonist whatsoever. I finally realized life was too short to waste on a book I wasn't enjoying.

Anonymous said...

I very sadly put aside a book by one of my favorite authors recently, because she'd missed the mark with her heroine. I can't think of a heroine anywhere that struck me so cold. No connection at all. I just wanted to slap her and tell her to get a life. In fact, the entire story was like that...at arm's length, cold, almost clinical, no real pulse indicating life. Yuck.

In order for me to read the book all the way through, I need to care---about the story, the people, what's happening. Stick a bunch of cr*p into the story, like inappropriate love scenes, weird surprises that don't make sense, or anything that pulls me from the story flow and makes me stop caring, and you've lost me. The number one thing that has to happen is that I have to like the hero and heroine enough to WANT to know what comes next. I need to like them...a lot.

Mar, I gotta say...I read very few books today, because I get so frustrated. I don't like feeling that I threw money away, either...my old German upbringing kicks in! :) I've read your work. WHY you are not published is beyond me, when I see some of the stuff put out there. Just mind-boggling. Hopefully the bottom line at the print houses will nudge them enough to consider that maybe things need a change. I used to LOVE my books, and I read them by the dozens every month. It's been a long, long time since that happened. And as an author and as a reader, that is a sorrowful thing.


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I've read 48 books so far this year, and stopped reading 17 more. Some in the first couple of chapters, some halfway through. The two things that stop me are if I can put the book down for three days while I catch up on magazine reading, and don't care if I never pick it up again...and cliches. If something is completely unoriginal and the story itself isn't compelling enough, I put it down. I never used to, but like most of you, I decided life is too short to waste time reading something I don't enjoy. Though I'm more likely to put down a mass market than a trade paperback.

However, I do not judge the fact that a book I didn't enjoy got published. Far too often a friend has ranted about something I loved, or raved about something I hated, for me to believe my opinion is the "right" one. :) Also, people are probably reading my books and thinking, "Geez, how did THIS get published???"

MJFredrick said...

I guess I'm spoiled - I had a good run there for awhile right after conference. Almost every book, I put up for review.

Tori, if it was The Givenchy Code, give it time - it gets really good!

Natalie, I used to have a book log so I'd know how many books I've read. I should do that again. I know I read 16 over the summer. No telling how many I put down. And I TRY not to give into the "Why are they published and I'm not?" But revising for ten months tends to make me cranky when a gaping hole like that one was overlooked!

But you're right - one person's trash is another's treasure. Like the fairy Nocturne. It was very welll written but --- they were fairies. Not for me.

Bosey, I haven't started the Meg Cabots or the Christina Dodds yet. The ones I've read from the booksignings I've enjoyed.

Okay, for Marianne, JoAnn and Sarah, do you buy new books? I find if I spend $$ for a book, I'm more likely to finish reading it. You? Or am I just cheap?

I'm reading one now (I didn't put the picture up because I didn't know if I'd like it. It's okay) that has the WORST POV problems! And telling! And cliches! The interesting premise is overcoming these things for me right now, but dang, where was the editor???

Anonymous said...

Yes, I buy new books. Those I can't bear to finish, I donate to someone else---maybe they will love it!

I didn't mean to sound harsh when I said I wondered why some books are published...no intentions of casting aspersions on anyone. But it is hard for me to sit and watch someone as talented as Mar go through what she has, while this book I could barely stand is on the shelves. Call me biased and protective when it comes to her. You'd be right.


Anonymous said...

Oh, no, I loved The Givenchy Code!!! This book had a male protagonist. I don't even remember the title of the book which should tell you how little I liked it. *g*

Anonymous said...

I should keep a log on the books I read, too.

I recently asked that question? At what point do you stop reading a book? On this particular book, I had read beyond the 50-page mark, or 3-chapter mark that I was advised was the cutting point. Because, nothing happened and then the book had these long speeches and then something would happen, but then it would go into the long speeches again. I've kept reading it because I feel loyal to this writer, but I CAN'T wait to finish it!

Usually, I only read books that I KNOW I'll like. I'm not sure how I can tell, but I can. Mostly, now, I'm reading books by Latino writers or with Latino characters. I'm doing research. LOL

I think, sometimes, we move away from our likes in reading, or progress/ evolve. I used to read Harl Romance, then Harl Presents. Now, I'm reading Harl Next [again doing research].

At present, I'm reading Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series. It's very well-written, but she does have scenes in there that are rather wordy and 'inconsequential' at times, IMO. Plus, I notice some contemporary words in there that take me out of the story. It's been a long time, however, since I've found books set in Regency times that I've liked so much.

I also think that the type of books we read have to do with personal taste. So, treasure to one, may not be treasure to me. However, I also read somewhere that whatever books are published, the writer took a lot of effort to write it and get it published and that's something we should respect even if we don't like the book, or even finish reading it.


Colleen Gleason said...

Interesting topic, Mary.

I probably finish about 40% of the books I pick up (and most of those are from authors that I know and love and have read for years). And I buy most of them. Ouch! (I do donate them to the library or somewhere, or pass them on...)

I put a book down if I start reading cliches--not just plot cliches, but word choice cliches. The same kinds of phrases I've read in a billion other romance novels. I don't want to read them again! I want to read fresh.

And if I read "his loins stirred" (is he making soup?) or "he entered her" (what, is she a building?) --those two phrases drive me nuts. :-)

Also, character inconsistencies, and also little things--particularly things they say that are out of character or are too, sort of, hand-holding for the reader--will make me put a book down.

I recently read a romantic suspense that I finally threw against the wall when I had 10 pages left. I couldn't read anymore. I tried; I gave it my best shot. I really wanted to like this book.

But there were too many things that had me rolling my eyes--in this case, character issues, and also some plot stuff.

One of the things was the heroine doing a major TSTL thing at the end. I just couldn't believe it...I slogged through that part, with only twenty or so pages left, figuring I'd finish it anyway, even though I just couldn't believe it.

But then the hero did something that was just wayyy out of character for the kind of guy he was, and it was obviously meant to be sappy and to show how much he loved her...but it *so* didn't work.

I threw the book.

Colleen Gleason said...

I should also add..

I am very picky and a harsh critic of books (and movies); always have been, and have gotten moreso as I've gotten older with less time and more books!

I dislike a lot of books that many people rave over, so I'm not necessarily a good judge. I know what I like and if you pull me out of the story, I'm gone.

Michelle Rowen said...

I also stopped reading a book about twenty pages from the end because I simply didn't care what happened. That was unfortunate.

And it's true that one person's garbage is another person's art.

I dislike 90% of what I pick up to read (and therefore don't finish it). But that 10%? I'll tell everybody about it. Then I'll check the amazon reviews and realize that some people hated what I love.

Vive la difference.

I have a theory about why crap gets published. It's because the plot is specific and sounds great on the back cover and in a pitch. I'm working on my theory and may make it into a workshop.

Amie Stuart said...

First, if I can SEE the writing, it won't get finished. In other words if I can't see the story for the words I've got a huge problem.

That said it's been a long time since I've tossed a book against the wall.

Sometimes it doesn't suck, but I just set it down and can't be bothered for whatever reason to pick it back up and finish it. It's not good but it's not bad either. It's just Meh. It's not interesting enough to keep me turning the pages (I fel that way about a much touted and much anticipated gargoyle romance).

MJFredrick said...

Okay, first, have to say I'm glad it wasn't The Givenchy Code that Tori put down!

JoAnn, thanks for being biased for me!

Lupe wrote: However, I also read somewhere that whatever books are published, the writer took a lot of effort to write it and get it published and that's something we should respect even if we don't like the book, or even finish reading it.

How true! And maybe this is part of why it's hard for me to give up on a book! Sad, though, that you can't wait to finish the book you're reading, but in a BAD way.

Colleen wrote: And if I read "his loins stirred" (is he making soup?) or "he entered her" (what, is she a building?)


10 pages left? 10 PAGES? Oh, MAN! (Maybe I should get you to read my books and let me know if they have any of these problems!)

I'm more critical than I used to be. I still have never walked out of a movie, or turned a DVD off, though. But like you, a lot of what other people get excited about, I just don't get.

Michelle, I like that theory, and I think it's true. I know some people who can write the hell out of a synopsis. Who knows how the book is, though? Like you, if I like a book, I tell everyone! I was on such a tear for awhile here that I was doing reviews every other day!

Amie, now, I liked the first gargoyle romance. I haven't started the second one, though. But yeah, a lot of the ones I put down are just Meh.

I completely get what you're saying about SEEING the story. You're looking at the craft, not the story.

Colleen Gleason said...

Yeah....I'd love to read your stuff, Mary! I've never had the opportunity before, and I would love it. Let me know if you ever want me to!

Amie Stuart said...

You're looking at the craft, not the story.

I can't avoid the craft to enjoy the story. I almost want to say it's as if the voice has been edited out so you can't help but see the words, ya know? I just picked up one I really really wanted and I've read the first six or seven pages and it's clunky--stay tuned.

MJFredrick said...

Amie, I understand exactly. I've read a writer like that before. I want to scream LEAVE IT ALONE! Sheesh.

MJFredrick said...

Oh, wow, thanks, Colleen!


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