How Long Do You Take to Break Up With a Book?


How many of you have gone through an awful breakup? You break up. You get back together. You break up. It happens, but breakups don’t just happen in your love life.

I’ve had to break up with books before.

I don’t like doing it and trust me, I try and try to make it work, but sometimes it’s just not the right fit. Typically, I give it about 50 pages before I set it down. Sometimes I’ll even pick more than twice and try again if someone makes a strong case. And of course, I’ve been wrong before! I can’t tell you the number of times I tried to read Animal Farm (which is only 112 pages) before a professor made me read it and I ended up loving it. We all make mistakes, but I feel pretty strong that when I’m done… I’m done.

Clearly this is a book blog, so there’s no real scientific reasoning to the following breakdown. But people have different reasons and strategies when it comes to reading, so after doing some research… who am I kidding… I asked Twitter and I got some great responses.

There are a number of reasons why you put a book down before you finish it, such as,

  • You can’t/don’t relate to the characters
  • You don’t like the characters
  • You don’t enjoy the plot
  • You’re not a fan of the writing
  • You’re not connecting with the story

Everybody has a different reading process and no one is going to have the same reading experience (even if they’re reading the same book) so here are some thoughts from Twitter:

As you can see, everyone is different. Maybe I’m naive, but it actually never occurred to me when I started writing this post that people didn’t give up on books. I completely understand their reasoning on why they might not want to break up, but I think I have the same philosophy as @MissusLeaver – life is too short to read something that I’m not enjoying. It could also be due to the fact that I have so many unread books, that if I can’t get a book to “stick”, I know I’ll be able to find one that’s a better fit. 

They say that breaking up is hard to do and it’s hard to do it with books too, so share with me in the comments below, what’s YOUR reading break up habits? Do you bail at chapter 3? Why do you throw in the towel?

*Luckily, I’m at the 75 page mark in my current read (a Spring title by Tessa McWatt), so it’s safe to say, I’m in it for the long haul.


17 thoughts on “How Long Do You Take to Break Up With a Book?

  1. wanderlustywriter says:

    I used to force myself to finish books, but now I agree–life’s too short! I now buy books based on whether or not I like the first few pages (amazon previews are essential when buying online, more important than the reviews) but if I’m not sucked in by chapter two, I’m out.

    That being said, there are some classics I’d like to make another go at–Anna Karenina I’ve tried twice, and given up. Also I hated Hemingway when I was in high school but think as an adult I might give him another try. We’ll see…

    • LR says:

      It’s good to hear that you adjusted your reading style to satisfy your reading experience… it make all the difference. PS You should definitely try Ernest Hemingway again, his writing is stunning.

  2. Shannon says:

    Breaking up with a book is so hard for me. Even if I am really hating it I hate the idea of a half finished book more. If a book is not holding my attention I usually set it aside for awhile (sometimes months) before trying again. And when I pick it back up I just continue reading from where I left off. I cannot be bothered to start it over lol I’m so odd..

    • LR says:

      Not odd at all… It’s impressive that you can remember the premise when you pick it up again. I do not have that good a memory, so I’d have to start it all over again.

  3. novelfetish says:

    It depends on what the problem is. If I’m just plain bored to death from the beginning I usually don’t make it more than a few chapters. If the story holds my interest and seems promising I usually stick it out, despite whatever flaws are present. I’ve abandoned several books in the past, only to pick them up later and try again. It all just depends on the mood I’m in and how much I feel I like pushing myself.

    • LR says:

      There really is something to be said about the mood of reading. I’ve pick up books in the past that I just didn’t feel like reading and then when I picked it up again, I couldn’t put it down. Thanks for leaving a comment!

  4. Naomi says:

    I rarely have to abandon a book. I’m pretty good at knowing what I will like. But, sometimes it happens, and when it does I try to cut my losses as fast as I can, so not a lot of my precious reading time is wasted. Usually around 50 to 100 pages in.

    • LR says:

      I’ve honestly been shocked by the number of people that stick it out until the end. I’m glad to hear that if you just can’t make it work, you’re out…

  5. Lauren Henderson says:

    What a great post!! I have a hard time abandoning books because I always feel guilty for a little while after. I don’t really have an abandonment rule. Usually, it’s because of those tiny book pet peeves that I know everyone has.. for example, I put down Where’d You Go Bernadette after about 15 pages because I can’t stand bitchy mom drama. I almost put down All The Light We Cannot See recently because I just couldn’t get into it. I think it took me about 3 months of off and on again reading to finally finish.. but I actually liked it at the end. And the whole time I couldn’t really figure out why I kept reading. ha

  6. kmn04books says:

    I don’t have a set rule but I generally stop around the 50-100 page range. I think a big factor influencing when I put a book down is whether I was recommended the book. (I’m more likely to try to hang on to a book that was recommended to me/praised by my friends than one that has gotten middling reviews.) I am also more likely to stick with a book that I received for review.

    • LR says:

      That’s a really interesting point. I think I stick it out longer too if a friend recommends the book to me. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  7. tanya (52 books or bust) says:

    I’m not good at breaking up with books. I usually give it at least 100 pages. In the case of The Luminaries I gave it 450 pages before breaking up. But I’m starting to realize that there is so much good stuff out there, stuff that will appeal to me, that it’s ok to throw in the towel.

  8. BooksMetro says:

    I used to be a “never”. I too felt like it may turn around soon and I would miss out. But now I don’t feel bad about marking a book DNF. If I feel like it’s a chore to read then it’s time to stop. Last DNF was The Lies of Locke Lamora.

  9. Natalie @ Browsing Bookshelves says:

    Great post! I’m one of those people who keeps on reading even if they hate it. I think I’ve only ever broken up with 2 books in my life. Even if I’m not enjoying a book, I always keep reading just in case the ending of the story somehow changes my mind.

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