Discussion: Abandoned books

I don’t write a DNF review for a book unless I’ve read about half of it, but there are loads more books that I’ve tried to read and ended up abandoning before the halfway mark. Generally I try to give a book a decent shot before giving up, but sometimes a book is so bad, or so boring, or just so not for me that I have to get rid of it quickly before I waste more of my time.

I don’t feel any guilt for abandoning a book, but sometimes I do feel weird because the book I’ve abandoned might be one that has been given a lot of good reviews. And then it’s like “What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I want to finish reading this book?” And “should I have stuck with it longer?” This is a completely different feeling from completely reading a book and not loving it (like with The Magicians), because at least I still finished it. But to not give the book a decent chance…? Okay, I do feel a little guilty.

But not guilty enough to keep reading it!

Anyway, I thought it’d be interesting to look at some books I’ve abandoned this year and see why I quit reading them. And then maybe, by putting this out into the ether, I’ll find some other people who have abandoned the same books and then I won’t feel weird and guilty any longer! 😀 Hopefully.

All of these are (I think) pretty popular, though some of them are maybe more popular than others.

  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I’ve tried reading this at least three times before, and every single time I got bored around page 100 and found something else to read.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I actually only got two pages into this? And then I read a review where an issue with the book’s plot regarding race was discussed and I just felt too uncomfortable with the whole thing to continue reading the book.
  • The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous by Suzanne Crowley. Got about 30 pages in, then was so bored and so unconvinced by the dialogue that I couldn’t continue, even though it was such a short book.
  • The Affinity Bridge by George Mann. About 50 pages into this I asked myself “do I really care about these people or what they do?” And the answer was “no.”
  • Drood by Dan Simmons. Got one sentence in and then remembered how much I dislike Charles Dickens.
  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Crown by M.T. Anderson. Somehow both utterly horrifying and boring at the same time. Got 50 pages in and then I couldn’t stand it any longer.
  • Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green. It’s a small book, so I thought I could push through the last half of it. Nope. I clocked out at page 105– it was so bad that I actually tossed it away from me in disgust.

I’ve abandoned more this year, but I can’t remember them! But anyway: have you ever abandoned a popular book? Did you ever go back and finish it? How did you feel?

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0 thoughts on “Discussion: Abandoned books”

  1. I have abandoned popular books (although, of course, I can’t think of any right now). Funny about the Nightside book – I love that series, although I must admit that I’ve abandoned all of Green’s books that I’ve started other than the Nightside series.

    1. I was really hoping to like it, and I know it was trying to be a newer version of the detective noir kind of books, but the whole “I’m including this character in the book so the protagonist can explain things to her i.e. you the reader” thing just really bugged me. It was too blatant, I guess.

  2. I have many that i have dropped off in between and didn’t bother to read again.
    New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. One of the most popular saga of all time and I have no interest in it.I read the first one out of boredom but a big effort will be needed on my part to read this one. I lasted about 2 pages 🙂

    Daughter Of Fortune by Isabel Allende- I was just a few pages in when my entire family decided to discuss the plot ( they had read it before me) and the details and spoilt the book for me.

    Love In The Time Of Cholera- I have reissued this book 4 times in last 2 years from the library but have just lasted 10 pages:) I bought it recently to finally read a little by little each day.

    I hope now u feel better as there ppl just like u 🙂

  3. I have *finally* given myself permission to give up on a book. It has taken me a LONG time to get to that point. I used to finish everything I started even if I wasn’t enjoying it but now I’ve realized how many other wonderful books I am not reading when I’m spending my time on something I don’t even like.

    I can’t remember the title now but there was a book that I was picking up almost every time I went into the bookstore so I finally just bought it. Then I really felt like I had to finish it because I spent money on it but it ended up being really long and dull. I’m sure I gave it to the library or put it in a yard sale or something when I was done with it because I know I didn’t keep it.

    I know there have been some Oprah picks that I have struggled with. I also don’t think I’ll bother finishing the Twilight saga after reading the first two.

  4. Have you got a link to the article about race in The Hunger Games? I am curious what it says – I tore through it so fast I didn’t pay much attention to what the characters looked like (usually that’s something I pick up on a reread).

    I’ve given up on Diana Wynne Jones’s books over and over, even the ones that are now my favorites. Deep Secret, Homeward Bounders, Howl’s Moving Castle – but I always thought, you know, Diana Wynne Jones is a wonderful author and I’m bound to like this book eventually, so I always reread them. It makes me skittish of writing off a book completely. When I don’t finish a book, or don’t like a book, I often revisit it a while later – and all because of Diana Wynne Jones.

    1. I’m trying to find it, but all I can remember is that it was on Livejournal somewhere! And of course I didn’t keep a link handy.

      You know, I mostly don’t have a bad time with DWJ books but I cannot for the LIFE of me get through more than 50 pages of The Merlin Conspiracy. I couldn’t even get through the audiobook! I’ve tried four times now, but I’m sure the next time I try it’s going to be The Time I Like It. Hopefully.

  5. I’m curious – how far into the Hunger Games did you get?

    I don’t usually post when I abandon books because in most cases, I’ll at least skim the end or keep open the possibility that I’ll come back to it. Many of the books I abandon I abandon for extraneous reasons (i.e. it’s not worth the library fine, I’m not in the mood, I’m in a general reading rut, etc.) For the books simply too horrible, boring, etc. to finish, I would seek out reviews of people I trust: if bloggers I’m normally in sync with love it, I’ll stick with it. Some books I’ve thought of abandoning, I’ve ended up loving. I have a habit of judging books immediately (i.e. falling in love on the first few pages), but I’m trying to spend more time forming opinions until I’m done with the book.

    1. Not that far– about a chapter? I’m just too skittish, I guess.

      I know what you mean about loving a book only near the end– that’s happened to me a few times. But usually with those books there’s something about it overall that makes me want to keep reading, like with The Demon’s Lexicon. I didn’t like the first part, but the overall plot was so interesting that I wanted to keep reading, and by the end I loved it. I was expecting to like it and so I tried a little harder, I guess? With the books I’ve abandoned I’m already not too sure about them at the beginning, so it’s easier for me to abandon them. 😀 I suppose it just depends on how I feel about a book when I want to abandon it– some have hope, some don’t.

  6. I found The Historian to be engrossing though the end was anti-climactic. However, if you’re not into it at page 100, no sense continuing as it’s such a hefty tome. That’s a lot of commitment for a book that you’re not into.

    Most popular book I’ve abandoned was Twilight.

    1. But I keep thinking that it’ll be worth it by the end, if I keep on pushing through! Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell was totally worth pushing through the whole thing, for example. That’s so sad the end of The Historian wasn’t that good! Bah. Maybe I won’t try reading the whole thing now.

  7. I’d be curious too about that article on The Hunger Games! I loved the book, but I’m always interested in hearing other points of view. Like you, I couldn’t get into The Historian, although I still keep it on my TBR pile; I have hope that, one day, I’ll be able to get into it…

    I do try to give books their chances. Often, I know from the first few lines or pages that I’ll like or not a book. Whether I still read it depends on what I heard about it or if the author is one I usually appreciate. Sometimes though, I’m sure I’ll love a book and I end up disappointed. It happened this week with Soulless, I almost didn’t finish it.

  8. I also abandoned The Historian. Just couldn’t get into it. The Hunger Game, you really have to get them to the arena, before it is any good. I almost gave it up before I got there. If a friend had not pushed me to continue, I would have not finished it.

    I, also, have great guilt at abandoning a book. Why is this such a big deal? It is only a book!!!

    Love your reviews, keep them coming. I might run out of great reads without reviewers like you.

  9. “…sometimes I do feel weird because the book I’ve abandoned might be one that has been given a lot of good reviews. And then it’s like “What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I want to finish reading this book?””

    I’ve been thinking this exact same thing about needing to put down Watership Down last week. Every single person I know who’s read this has loved it. But I just couldn’t get into it no matter how hard I tried.

    I would also like to read that review on the Hunger Games! I didn’t pick up anything on race, so it would be interesting to see what the reviewer saw there.

  10. i’m too stubborn to break up with my books and have only ditched TWO in my reading career–and not without SEVERAL attempts to slog through them.

    i quit ‘the house of leaves’ and ‘the book thief’, which the whole world apparently LOVES. don’t ask. i haven’t been able to get past page 40 after opening it literally dozens of times.

  11. Ugh the Historian, I almost wish I had abandoned it! Crazy because it had such interesting, if odd characters, but the whole ‘clues to an ancient secret’ thing really doesn’t thrill me – especially as most of the secrets tend to be implausible/not really that shocking. Have you read ‘The Geographers’ Library’ which has a similar kind of vibe, but just worked so mcuh better?

    1. I haven’t read it, but I do have a copy! Is it really better than The Historian? I want to love The Historian because of the Dracula thing (which is one of my favorite myths), but it’s hard when trying to read it takes so much out of me. Is The Geographers’ Library easier? I should give it a try this winter.

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