Do you abandon bad books?

On Sunday night, the festivities of Father’s Day over and the kids sent to bed, Clare and I sat down with a TV dinner and slipped in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 into the blu-ray. An hour and 45 minutes later, Clare had picked up the iPad and was starting to browse while I was struggling to keep awake. Opting for a screen – and teenage angst – break, I paused Harry’s exploits to make a coffee.

“How much longer is left,” Clare asked absently as I stared at the display in disbelief.

That couldn’t be right, could it? 60 minutes to go. Another hour of Harry, Hermione and Ron looking pained and hanging out in tents. And, as a little voice in the back of my head kept pointing out, this is only part one. There’s part two to come. Deathly Hallows? Deathly dull more like.

As the kettle boiled, I seriously considered whether to abandon young Master Potter’s latest cinematic outing as a bad job.  There was one snag: I hate giving up on films.

In the cinema, it’s a complete no-no. I’ve paid my money and I’m going endure every minute, in the vain hope that a) things will improve and b) I can at least moan about it afterwards if they don’t. At home, I’m less disciplined. If I’m not enjoying my time with a film or TV show, the remote contacts starts calling to me, tempting me with a myriad of other possibilities or, in the words of the Why Don’t You gang, even to switch off the television set and do something less boring instead. Nine times out of 10, I’ll stick with it, but increasingly, the siren song of the remote proves too strong.

When it comes to books, things are different. Whenever I start a book, I’m loath to put it down, no-matter how much I hate every moment. It’s weirdly masochistic. I persevere, knowing full well that I could abandon it for a more worthy member of my ever-growing ‘to read’ pile. It’s almost as if I hate the fact that a book might beat me with its sheer ineptitude. Or is it actually, as with films, an underlying martyr complex? Do I just want something to whinge about?

So what about you? Do you battle through books you aren’t enjoying or do you ditch them without a second thought? And which titles, if any, have you abandoned due to the fact that life is just too short?

About Cavan Scott 918 Articles
Bestselling author Cavan Scott is a writer of novels, comics, audio dramas and non-fiction books for adults and children. He has written for Doctor Who, Star Wars, Tekken, Star Trek, Penguins of Madagascar, Skylanders, Adventure Time, The Beano, Pathfinder, Angry Birds, Judge Dredd, Blake's 7, Warhammer 40,000 and more.


  1. Oh goodness, life is WAY too short! I probably ditch more books than I finish. Most recently I ditched a book called Island in a Storm, a non-fiction book about an environmental disaster.

  2. I usually struggle on, but Gradisil by Adam Roberts completely defeated me. I usually enjoy his books (especially Stone and The Snow) but this was one hell of a lifeless, joyless trudge. Doubt I’ll pick it up again – too much else to read!

  3. I choose my books (and films for that matter) quite carefully so they’re rarely that bad. However, I’m terrible at keeping up with reading so there are quite a few books (always non-fiction, I realise) that I’ve abandoned part way through. I just stopped for a while and never got around to picking them up again.

  4. Life’s definitely too short to read bad books.

    These days we have a library less than 5 minutes walk away which means I’ll give all sorts of books a go. I’ve found some real gems that I never would have bought but also plenty of stinkers that I’ll give up without a second thought. Most recently “The Path of Minor Planets” by Andrew Sean Greer. What a waste of an interesting premise. I can’t get on with books that think tedious discussion of characters’ mental states is a substitute for actually writing interesting characters.

    Before that the list is far too long to go into…

    I didn’t think Deathly Hallows was that bad, BTW, though definitely too long. They say today’s youngsters have short attention spans…

    • I think the trouble with Deathly Hallows was that not a lot actually happened. The plot points could have been dealt with in half the time and half the tents…

  5. For many years I would never give up on a book, even Sky Pirates by Dave Stone. However, I’ve been in the publishing industry for twenty years now and am inundated with manuscripts and advance copies, plus I am an avid book buyer. I’ve reached a point where if it hasn’t grabbed me after at least 100 pages, it goes back on the shelf. I may go back to it at a later date (I rarely get rid of any books and am now approaching 2000) but I’d rather try something new than struggle with something that may put me off reading for a while…

    Films, on the other hand, I can switch off in a heartbeat 🙂

  6. I’ve got no problem sacking off a shoddy book. It used to bother me but I figure life’s too short these days. I recently bailed out on the Bible. Part 1 was ok and there seemed to be loads kicking off. Plenty of vengeance and violence and retribution. I thought Part 2 was a bit gay though so I dropped it.

    By the way, have you read the new Bond novel and if so what are your thoughts?

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