Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What makes you stop reading?

This question occurred to me yesterday evening when I closed a book about 200 pages (not quite half way) in and said, "I'm done." This morning, I decided I would skim ahead a little to see if what irritated me enough to stop reading the book would be swiftly rectified and the plot advanced in a non-irritating direction, but yesterday I was ready to put it down and never pick it up again. I realized, too, that what pissed me off so much this time was the same thing that had pissed me off a while back in another book that I put down and have never picked up since: a broken promise. I don't mean something trivial like "I know I promised to leave you the last piece of cheesecake, but I ate it anyway". I mean a heavy-duty promise that is part of the foundation of the story being told. In the previous case, it was a promise one MC made to himself. He did that, and I said, "You suck. You're an idiot. Why should I read about you any more? I'm done." (Of course, I didn't like the other MC anyway, so it was that much easier to walk away.) In this case, it was a promise between the two MCs, and one is trying to be noble and clever and protective by breaking it. Uh...no. Stupid and intolerable, IMO. I had no idea broken promises bugged me so much, but there does seem to be a pattern emerging, doesn't there.

So I'm curious. When a book is well-written and the genre/subject is one you generally enjoy, what makes you stop and put a book down and say, "I'm not reading you any more."? Or do you soldier through, trusting that the author will correct the issue?


Tam said...

I don't find there is a "thing", usually I just lose interest. I no longer care about the characters, can't always say why.

Although I have run across smug characters that will make me stop reading. The guy broke X's heart but has swanned back into his life and is very smug that he can get the guy back if he wants and has justified in his head why he did what he did and belittles X for not just "getting over it" and has that "I can get you into bed anytime I want" attitude going. Worse? The other guy falls for it. Have some self-respect.

Also a total lack of common sense. Rather than call the police when your ex threatens your boyfriend, you decide to tell him you are in love with your female friend and break up with him to "protect" him. WTF? Normal people don't do that. They get the proper authorities involved. Makes me crazy when they come up with convoluted methods of dealing with a situation that no one in a million years would ever think of, usually leading to some kind of separation. Ugh.

Guess I do have some "things". :-) I usually skim to the end though just to see how it ended, but I consider it unfinished and certainly unenjoyed.

Maia Strong said...

Excellent points, Tam! Lack of common sense drives me nuts, too. And smugness on one side coupled with lack of self-respect on the other is definitely another hot button. Ugh! I don't know people like that in RL--or if I did, I got rid of them because they have no place in my life--so why would I read about them?

kristenhdavis said...

Sadly, I've had to put down a few things lately. The number one thing (other than unfaithfulness in a romance, blech) is when the attraction between the MCs isn't set up well. I just put one down the other day where, in the first chapter, the MCs were already acting like they were soul mates. I need a little bit of reality.

Another that will cause me to put one down is too much angst. A story won't feel real without a conflict, but when the story basically starts with the conflict and it's just one thing after another until it's finally resolved at the very end, where the insert the obligatory HEA... I rarely make it that far.

Maia Strong said...

I hear you! I can't stand a poorly set-up pairing. When the relationship seems forced or it's laid on as an afterthought, I get disgusted and walk away.

Your second example makes me laugh because I just read a techno-thriller that felt like that: one thing after another. Of course, in that genre it's expected, at least to an extent, and the ending wasn't particularly HEA, so it worked. But overly angsty books can begin to feel a bit like The Grapes of Wrath at times. Why would I want to be that miserable when there are other things to read?

Related Posts with Thumbnails