I can’t remember the last time I didn’t finish a book. Maybe that’s because it’s never happened. To be fair, I’m not sure either way. If there was a book I didn’t finish (and there probably was), it was so lackluster that I don’t even remember it. So this week was a first of sorts for me. A friend lent me a book by an author whose previous works I did enjoy, and while the premise of the books was interesting, I only got about 1/3 of the way through before putting it down and saying enough.
Why couldn’t I finish the book? For starters, it was depressing. I knew it was going to tug at my heart strings a little, but I was still expecting a little levity– or something to offset the negativity. Another thing that kept me from really connecting with the story was the lack of actual action (and interaction). The main character was retelling the story so everything was colored by her perspective and left me unable to connect with the other characters in the book. I won’t say it was a bad book. It just wasn’t for me.
Sure, there’s a part of me that is curious about the ending, but not curious enough to forge ahead. With piles of good books out there, I just don’t have the energy to force myself to read to the end. It makes me wonder though, how many readers drop a book without finishing and more so, how many finish books they wish they hadn’t? I’m the kind of person who never wants to quit and generally feels obligated to finish anything that I start so this is kind of a new experience for me. (The good news is that there isn’t exactly a librarian breathing down my neck waiting to slap my hands with a ruler for being a quitter!)
Maybe if I were to stick it out, I’d be pleasantly surprised, but as a writer I’m not sure I’d want a reader to keep going if they weren’t really interested in the story. I can’t imagine anything worse than getting to the end and disliking the book even more. (Yes. I think this might be worse than getting a DNF rating). And frankly, I’d want my readers to be in love (or least engaged in) the story. I’m a realist. There may be a reader for every book, but not every book is for all readers.