Life’s too short” versus “I’ve started, so I’ll finish”. To give up, or not give up? That is the question many book-lovers find themselves asking when they’re a few pages (or chapters) into a novel that just isn’t doing it for them. It might be that the characters aren’t appealing or interesting enough. Maybe the style is too dry, or the action too slow. Or perhaps it’s all-action and no substance. The reason(s) you’re considering abandoning a book will, of course, depend entirely on your tastes. 

With that in mind, here’s our (slightly tongue-in-cheek) run-down of reasons to give up, along with a very good reason to revisit previously abandoned books (spoiler alert: it involves star-crossed lovers. Kind of). 

1. Life’s too short to be bored

This is a tricky point to argue against. If, after being enticed by appealing back cover blurb, or an attractive cover (let’s face it, since smart design captures the essence of a book’s style and themes, you can often judge a book by its cover), you dive into a book to feel underwhelmed or disappointed, why waste valuable time persevering? Of course, it’s worth giving it a chance to get going and grip you, but if you still feel the same way after a few hours or chapters, it may well be time to move on. You could, after all, be doing something far less boring - going out with friends, watching a movie, or enjoying a different book. Talking of which…

2. There are plenty more books in the sea

With over a million new books published each year, and centuries-worth of novels to enjoy, it’s pretty safe to assume that among this massive ocean there will be hundreds of thousands of books to suit your tastes. Too many, in fact, for you to get through in a lifetime. So (back to point one again), why waste your valuable time? The hours squandered reading books you’re not enjoying would be better spent a) discovering books you will enjoy (which, as it happens, is the purpose of LoveReading - we’re here to help readers navigate that big book ocean to find books they’ll love) and b) reading books you actually enjoy. In summary, you don’t have to hang out with a stinky fish you don’t like.

3. Guilt-tripping isn’t cool, kids

“Really? You haven’t read [insert title of a famous book everyone is “supposed” to have read]?” is how certain sanctimonious types might incredulously respond to your “confession” of not having read a certain book. You know the books we mean - the classics that appear on all those “best books of all time” lists, from Pride and Prejudice and War and Peace, to To Kill a Mockingbird and The Lord of the Rings. That’s not to detract from the value of these examples - it’s merely pointing out that just because tonnes of people love them, it doesn’t mean that everyone will (or should).

And the response to such superior “really?” responses? Firstly, no one should feel guilty about what they have or haven’t read. It’s personal. And secondly, one person’s “book everyone is supposed to have read” is another person’s idea of a terrible novel. That’s the beauty of fiction - it’s infinite in scope and style, and infinite in how we respond to it. Once again, it’s personal - book guilt-trippers, begone!

A reason to re-visit

Having said that, there are also strong arguments for giving novels a second go at a later date. If you think of finding your perfect books as being a bit like finding your perfect partner, revisiting a book years (or even decades) after you first tried it, is comparable to meeting someone from your past who used to leave you pretty cold. With the stars aligned differently, and more experiences behind you, you might just fall in love and live happily ever after. It happens.

In book terms, this is the equivalent re-visiting a novel you gave up on as a young adult and discovering hitherto unseen delights. It might speak to you in different ways, and have greater impact. Of course, if it leaves you feeling just as “meh” the second time round, you know what to do - dive back into that book ocean and find yourself another fish (like we said, there’s certainly no shortage of them).