4 Ideas for Finishing a Book You’re Struggling to Read

You’ve heard all the rave reviews, seen the book cover plastered all over social media, and know there’s a long line of people ahead of you on the waiting list at the library. For those reasons and more, you must read this book!

So when you finally have a copy in your hands and start reading, you’re disappointed when the book falls flat for you. Despite all the hype about it, you just can’t get into it.

What do you do? Do you keep reading in hopes it will get better (or so you won’t be the only person in your circle of friends who hasn’t read it)? Or do you stop reading and move on to something else?

What’s a book lover to do??

Why I keep reading

This is a struggle and topic close to my heart, not only as a reader but as a writer as well. For me, it’s a real dilemma! In those instances when a book hasn’t been as great as I thought it would be, I’ve:

  • kept reading hoping that it would pick up, get more interesting, or include a twist that would cause me to fall in love
  • kept reading because I felt guilty for buying it and not finishing it (even if I may have borrowed it!)
  • finished it but gotten upset for wasting my time on something that didn’t fulfill or satisfy me

But then I’d ask myself if that was the right thing to do. As a reader, probably not. If a book isn’t for me, then it isn’t. There are certainly others who will love and adore it, but I don’t always have to. And that’s okay. When that happens I just need to stop reading and pull another book off the shelf.

Except I’m a writer.

And I know how much hard work went into making that book. I know how the author toiled over every word, every paragraph and every scene to make it the best story he/she could. Armed with that knowledge, putting a book down after 20 pages is difficult for me. I feel like I owe it to my fellow wordsmiths to keep reading.

So what’s the answer?

Sadly, there isn’t one. But there are a few options.

4 Ideas for Finishing a Book You’re Struggling to Read

Here are a four things you can try if you really want to finish a book, but are having trouble:

  • Try a different format. I tried several times to read Where the Crawdads Sing. Several. But no matter how many times I picked it up, I just couldn’t get into. When I told people that, they said to give it a chance, that it really does get better. Wanting to believe them, I decided to try listening to the audio version and worked through it in 3 days (being on a long road trip helped!). I’m glad I opted to listen to the book rather than reading the physical version as the narrator made the book come alive for me. Likewise, I’ve been listening to an audio book and couldn’t motivate myself to keep listening. While it’s won awards, I may need to get a physical or digital copy in order to find out how it ends.
  • Set the book down and read something else. No matter how hard I’ve tried to like a particular book on my nightstand, I just did’t enjoy the overly descriptive word usage, the confusing timeline, and the strange plot. So I decided to move on to something else and am much happier. After a finish my new find, I may go back and give the other book one more chance. Then again, maybe not. But there’s no reason why I shouldn’t read altogether because I’m struggling with a book.
  • Try a different book from the same author. Reading another book by the same author may help you determine if you like their style of storytellilng. If you do, then it will give you the encouragement you need to finish the one you’re struggling with. If, after reading something else written by the author, you discover that you’re still having trouble with his/her style, then you know that he/she is not the one for you.
  • Talk to someone else who has read the book. Sometimes, reaching out to another book lover who has already read the book  and asking them if they had the same issues as you might be helpful. They may address your concerns and have valuable advice that might allow you to keep an open mind and actually finish.

But what if you try one of these ideas and just don’t like the book?

Well, that’s okay. You have permission to stop reading. Not every book will be for every person. Considering there are so many books to read and so little time, you shouldn’t waste the precious time you do have on something that doesn’t resonate with you. So give it to a friend you think might like it, return it to the library, or simply donate it. But please, don’t berate the author publicly. Yes, you can leave an honest review, but don’t ruin their chances at success with those who might enjoy it. Books, like most creative work, is subjective. Appreciate the author’s efforts, but know that he or she isn’t your cup of tea and move on.

Trust me, there’s always a good book out there waiting for you to read.

Have you struggled to finish a book you didn’t like? What did you do?

How could some of these ideas help you?

Happy reading,

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