How To Know When To Stop Reading A Book

I read an article online on the Guardian today interviewing author Mark Billingham, who writes the Tom Thorne crime novel series.

In it Billingham says he reads a book for only 20 pages and if it doesn’t hold his interest, then he throws the book away and moves on to something else in something he calls the 20-page rule. (You can check out the full article here).

I found this interesting, as a reader I have definitely read books which I didn’t finish and also books which I have forced my way through (mostly in English classes as though I love reading…things like William Shakespeare…probably not so much and I’ll probably pass) and it got me wondering just when is it OK to give up on a boring book?


I think one of the most important things when reading for pleasure is it should be exactly that and when a book isn’t fun to read anymore and feels like a chore it is probably time to move onto something else.

Not everyone’s taste is the same and there can be any number of reasons why a book doesn’t particularly interest you.

Maybe the main character is annoying, the book is too unrealistic or is badly written and has too many grammatical errors. It could even be just a bit slow to get moving and you have found yourself falling asleep and daydreaming instead of reading.

Remember when reading and it’s not for an exam that it should always be fun and if it isn’t then it is time to move on.


But It's A Book Everyone Has Read?

This can be a reason many people can carry on reading a book even when it is something they are not enjoying. Perhaps it is one of those literary phenomenons that you get every couple of years  à la Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey.

There’s also those classic novels which everyone says they have read. The truth is though people lie – in fact, here’s a list of the most common books people claim to have read when they haven’t.

Maybe it is time to stand up to the peer pressure and if you find a book which really isn’t up to your taste then it’s time to stand up to be counted.

You Can Always Come Back To It

Of course sometimes it can just be a case that the book just isn’t what you want right now – maybe you want something funny and not an edgy thriller, or perhaps an epic fantasy as a form of escapism.

If a book isn’t right for you right now then it is OK to put it down and try something else and you can come back to it at a later date (disclaimer: if it’s a library book, please return or renew it and don’t let it go overdue, as I don’t want to be responsible for any fines!).

Who knows, when you come back you may find the book will become a favorite and will “be there for you”. (Sorry whilst I take a break to sing the Friends theme tune)


Back again.

I think when it comes to reading and in today’s connected world, so many people are so busy that it can be hard to find things that entertain us. It can also mean sometimes we don’t always recognize what is good for us at that particular moment but when it comes to reading it doesn’t matter what it is you like reading, it should always be fun and if it isn’t then you shouldn’t try to soldier through a book if it isn’t one that brings enjoyment.

On that note, are there any books which you haven’t read? Why did you stop reading them and do you have any rules like Mark Billingham does which inspired this post? Let me know in the comments below.

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Featured Image credit: PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

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1 thought on “How To Know When To Stop Reading A Book”

  1. I don’t have a hard rule in place. I generally try to finish everything I’ve picked up, (though I sometimes fail to start things I’ve picked up…) and am reading things in just 1 or 2 sittings lately, so I don’t have much opportunity to let them go stale.

    I think the last book I dropped outright was White Fragility, which I had picked up as part of a book group, which stopped meeting… So yeah, not my typical genre, and more stressful than what I needed at the time. I want to come back to it later, but probably not until I’m in a better headspace.

    Thanks for sharing!

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