How to Quit Reading a Book

Yes, you read that right. Today we’re going to discuss when to STOP reading a book.

As readers and writers, we’ve all encountered that book that just doesn’t move us. We struggle to read it, we dread picking it up, or we are reading “just to get through it.” It may truly be a terrible book, or it may be a book that just isn’t right for us or right for us right now. And I’m sure many of you can relate to the difficulty not only in finishing such books but in even considering the possibility of quitting it. We feel a compulsion, an obligation, even, to reach that final page. But it costs us time that we could be reading something that makes us happy. And we know this, but we are stuck, or so we feel.

So how do you quit a book you aren’t enjoying? When should you quit that book?

First, let’s explore when you should definitely NOT quit the book:

  1. It’s required reading. It may be required for your job, a class, or for a promised review, if you do that sort of thing. But here it’s important to distinguish reading for pleasure versus reading professionally. A book you read for pleasure is a book you chose to read on your own time. A professional read is something you have agreed to read either because it is part of your job, because you were asked and said yes, or because you signed up for the class. Do your best to finish those books (and we’ll discuss how in another post!). This is your reputation, work ethic, education, and professional image. Make it count. Exception: if you promised to review a book but don’t feel comfortable doing so because you dislike it so much, talk to the person or company who offered it to you. Discuss your options, then make a decision about how to proceed.

And guess what? That’s it. That’s the only reason not to quit a book.

“Really?” you may ask.


Here’s a life lesson I have been learning over the past decade (oh, I feel old) while going through college, grad school, and my young professional life: your life is yours, and your spare time is yours, too. You should be able to enjoy that spare time, not let yourself sink in a bog of a book you hate but feel compelled to finish. You are not obligated to the author to finish a book. Or to the person who bought you a book. Really. Is it worth it to you to read what you hate at the expense of reading something you love?

So now let’s talk about the things to consider when you’re hating the book you’re reading, some things to think about in making that choice. By framing the idea in these ways, it may help you to justify or understand why quitting a book is perfectly fine (or even why you may not want to actually quit it).

  1. What value would finishing this book add to your life? Is it something that would be useful for you to read, such as a grammar book if you’re a writer, a classic you’d love to discuss or understand, or a book with a huge conversation you want to participate in? Is it written either so poorly or so well that, despite you not enjoying it, it would actually benefit your own writing to complete it? Or is it something you picked up for free, is terribly edited, and hurts you to open?
  2. Do you have other books you would enjoy more? Perhaps you have a whole shelf in your home filled with books yet to be read (I do, for sure). And maybe even without having read them, you know there are others that you’ll love way more than what you’re reading now. Do you want to waste precious time on a book that means nothing to you but that wasted time?
  3. Think of all the books yet to be read that you won’t read because you’re reading something you don’t like. Let’s be real for a minute: you will never read all the books you want to read. Life isn’t long enough, and no one can read that fast. By quitting a book you don’t like, you make time for all those other books.
  4. You are not obligated to finish everything you start. Your only obligation is to yourself, to do what is best for you. It’s your life. The book doesn’t own you.
  5. You can always pick it back up later. In all seriousness, maybe you just picked it up at the wrong time in your life. Maybe if you come back to it later, you will connect to it more. Give yourself the chance to love it. Let it go right now, and revisit it later.
  6. Is it painful to read? Like, is it so poorly edited or planned that you just can’t stand to look at it? Maybe move on to something better.
  7. You are not a greater person for powering through a terrible book. That’s just hurting yourself.
  8. You are not a lesser person for quitting a terrible book. Deciding not to finish something doesn’t make you a weak reader.
  9. Take action. Just put the book aside for a while and pick up something different. If it helps, tell yourself you’ll come back to it later, like in point 5.
  10. Start something you like better. If you can’t bring yourself to quit that book, just start a second book. If you really must finish the one you dislike, read one chapter of that one before reading something you love. It takes longer, but you’ll get it done and not hate your reading time every day.

I know it can be hard to quit reading a book. I spent most of my life going through those books I couldn’t stand, the books I felt obligated to read because I started them, the books I felt obligated to read because someone bought them for me even though they were never something I liked.

Make yourself stop and really consider. It will take time to get to a point where you feel okay quitting books, especially if it’s a big issue for you. But that’s okay. Start introducing the idea to yourself now, and work on it over time. Take small steps, like simultaneous reading. Understand that your life may get busier, and therefore your reading time may be cut shorter than it used to be. Think about how you want to spend that time. Make those minutes, those pages, into something that is truly pleasurable and happy for you, make it a place to go that doesn’t give you stress but relieves it.

It’s a process, and as I said, it took me a long time. But I can happily and proudly proclaim that I quit books all the time now. There are too many on my pile, on my radar, on my shelves, for me to waste what reading time I have on something I don’t like. Don’t you also deserve to find the ones you love?

I hope you can learn from my experience and all my own wasted time. Find the books you love, and give yourself the gift of enjoying every minute. Don’t let your books, that love of reading, turn into a source of stress for yourself.

Let it be your release.

3 Simple Tricks to Read More Books

There are so many books being released every day, and personally, my list of books to be read is massively long. I know that I will likely never read everything I want to read, but I do my best to get to them. I have even learned one of the hardest lessons any reader faces: how to quit a book I’m not enjoying. But that’s a post for another day.

As writers, it is critical for us to read books in and out of our genre. We need to know what is being published in our chosen genre, what is selling, and what readers want. But you may wonder how you can possibly fit more books into your busy schedule.

Or maybe you’re not even a writer. You’re an avid reader who has no idea how to get to all the abundance of books you want to read. Maybe it takes you a while to finish a book, or maybe your list is just so long you don’t even know where to start.

Whichever group you fall into, I have three simple tricks that have helped me to read more books per year. Just last year, I read a total of 72 books, and I am on track to match, if not beat, that number this year.

Here’s how I did it.

1. Always have a book with you.

This one may seem a bit obvious, but it’s true. The easiest way to find time to read is by having the material available whenever you find yourself with a spare moment.

Now, I know it can be hard to carry a hulking hardcover everywhere you go. Or even juggle multiple books if you’re almost finished with one.

But here’s a helpful hint: install an ereader app on your phone, whichever one you like. I mean, you carry that thing around with you all the time, right? Most of us do. Whenever you find yourself with a dull moment or waiting for a friend or bus or train, pull out your phone and start reading your e-book-in-progress.

For me, I discovered this because of all the awkward incubation times while I’m working in the lab. There is no point in taking off your lab gear when you have five minutes of waiting time. By the time you make it back to your desk, you just have to go right back. So while I sit in the lab waiting for incubations or time points to complete, I read a book! It keeps me from getting bored, and I get to make progress on my yearly reading goals and enjoy a fresh new story.

2. Make the most of your time.

Another great way to increase the books you read is to start listening to audiobooks while you commute, clean, walk, or do other mindless work. Again, looking to my lab experience, I once ran an experiment for two months that required me to pay attention to something for four-five hours every morning. But it was absolutely mindless work, tedious and boring, so I downloaded audiobooks and listened to fifteen books in the course of those two months.

Another great time to use them is while you commute. Chances are if you’re driving, walking, or otherwise paying attention to where you’re headed, you can’t really look at a book. But you can listen. Instead of listening to music or the news every day, invest that time in a few books. And you can of course take breaks between books, go back to your music or news stations, but this is an easy way to rack up those pages!

If you decide (like me) that an audiobook subscription service just isn’t worth your money, there are alternatives. Many audiobooks are available online for free. Additionally, check with your local library. The Free Library of Philadelphia works with the Overdrive app so that you can borrow e-books and audiobooks without ever stepping foot inside a branch. One bonus of this app: no late fees. Books are automatically returned at the end of the loan period, and you can extend your loan straight from the app. Borrowing is also extremely helpful if you want to try a book or author before you buy anything.

3. Don’t be afraid to read more than one book at a time.

By using multiple formats of books, you can read multiple works at once. For example, I read a hard copy of a book at all times. I bring it with me to work, I read it at home or on trips, I love the feel of having it in my hands. But I also keep an e-book ready at all times on my phone or ereader, for those moments when I have time but can’t have my physical book, like in the lab. And the ereader itself is great for trips that limit your ability to carry the extra weight of a bunch of books (like when flying or going far away). And finally, I listen to an audiobook while I commute to and from work, which gives me at least 45 minutes each direction. And that doesn’t even touch the long car trips!

This can be a hard one for a lot of people, especially if you have trouble keeping stories separated in your head. But I have a trick for that, too. If you struggle to keep the details of stories straight when reading more than one at a time, use a different genre for a different format. To give you a quick example, if you are reading a fantasy story in paperback (or hardcover), you may choose to read a contemporary romance as your e-book and a non-fiction book as your audiobook. Or perhaps you pick classic literature as one of those other formats. By separating the type of books you are reading simultaneously, it may be easier for you to enjoy and understand the stories without mixing up those details. Definitely steer clear of reading similar books at the same time! Been there, done that, still can’t remember which is which!

So there you have it. How to read more books, Selina-style. So what about you? What tips do you have to read more books? Share below in the comments!