When Do You Stop Reading if You Don’t Like a Book?

I belong to a book club for writers. Once a month we read a novel and meet to share our opinions about the story elements like premise, character arcs, conflict, plot, etc.

Have we ever unanimously liked the same book? I can only recall one during the past 2 years, but only 4 out of 6 members were there that night. Reading is as subjective for us as it is for agents, editors, reviewers, and other readers. It can be hard when someone doesn’t love your favorite book or author.

What happens if I don’t like a novel? If I’m reading for book club, I try to finish the first 50-100 pages before stopping. I want to give the selection a chance and contribute to the discussion. If I’m reading a book for my enjoyment or edification, I have a much shorter attention span. Usually by the end of the first page or chapter. Sometimes I wait a while and give the novel a second or third try, but I’ve only changed my opinion once.

When do you stop reading if you don’t like a book?


  1. I think I gave one of my recent reads a chapter and decided I’d had enough. I really want it to grab me and be enjoyable. Otherwise, what’s the point? And it’s funny how my tastes change. I remember trying to read Gone with the Wind when I was 13 and barely making it through the first chapter. Years later I tried again and fell in love with it. Now I rank it in my all-time favorite books.

    • “I really want it to grab me and be enjoyable. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

      Nanette, I agree with you and with agents and editors who quickly decide if a submission is a pass or accept. Thanks for commenting!-Jillian

  2. I stopped reading a book last night. I gave it 50 pages. There are just too many books out there to spend my time reading something I do not enjoy. This book came highly recommended, but it wasn’t for me. Reading is subjective and it is impossible to write a book that will please everyone.

    • Haley, I had a similar experience with a book club selection written by one of my favorite authors. The hero and the book often top favorite historical romance lists, but neither one worked for me. Thanks for commenting on how subjective reading is!-Jillian

  3. Oooh, good question! It depends on the situation. I’ll stick with a “popular” book for several chapters before giving up because I want to know what all the hype is about. For new authors, I’ll also read 3-4 chapters before calling it quits because sometimes it takes a new writer longer to find their voice. (And yes, I’ve read several books that turned out to be well worth sticking in out.) And then there’s timing. If a subject matter doesn’t appeal to me at the moment, I’ll set the book aside and try again when the theme is more relevant to my life.

    • Tammy, I appreciate your comments. I forgot about timing and subject matter, but you’re absolutely correct about how they influence what you read or how you feel about what you read.-Jillian

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