What makes you put down a book?

You’re excited to start a new book that’s either been sitting on your bookshelf waiting for you to dig out some time, or something you’ve just bought in a bookstore or on your electronic device. You turn the page and start reading, anxious to absorb all the words and the style the writer has employed. However, within a few pages or chapters, you don’t feel that ‘hook’ that was supposed to have trapped you into the read and make you want to continue battling through hunger and discomfort and pins and needles ’cause you’ve been sitting there hours on end to read.

When you are starting out writing, the first thing you get hammered about is having something happen in the story that acts like a hook, capturing the reader in its grasp to not let go till it’s taken you down to ‘The End’. Every story NEEDS a hook! Rule of thumb. So when we put down a book before we’ve even gotten through a few pages is because we haven’t been hooked…so what do we do? We put the book down, and sometimes we get back to it but most times we write it off and move on to the next one.

What makes you put that book down other than the fact that you haven’t been hooked? You read the blurb and picked it out to read, didn’t you? You had liked the sound of the story from that little snippet, and perhaps a really attractive cover. No one shoved it in your hand and held a threat over your head. There are a number of reasons to write off a book. I would absolutely hate it if someone were to start to read one of my work and simply put it down before it ‘got to the good part’. That’s the excuse isn’t it, for most books that completely miss a hook and pretend not to notice as they meander towards the ‘good part’. Frankly my dear, those books completely forget to make a stop at the one and only bus-stop that had a queue of people trying to board, and come along for the journey.

Here are some of the other reasons you and I may put down a book:

1) Terrible cover page and a blurb that is less than exciting that you barely got through it. Let’s face it, we all judge things at face value before we invest few extra minutes to explore it. At this stage, a book that suffers from terrible cover page and underdeveloped blurb is doomed whether that story is in fact great.

2) No HOOK: readers are like fish in the sea, and books are fisherman. It needs to have an attractive tackle and be patiently waiting for NO.1 to work its magic and have a fish come along. Unfortunately, if your tackle and hook aren’t hundred percent you will be waiting there twiddling your thumb.

3) Poor writing: I know nowadays this is more relevant since the publishing market has been taken by its horn with plenty of self-publishing going on. However, I don’t care if the books are even published by well know publishing houses, if they are written badly, I’ll call up on it. For example, the Twilight series. Though I’m sure I’ll be slammed by Twi-hards when you came across this post, but even you can’t deny the fact that there are plenty of grammatical and punctuation errors in that book, and a desperate need for a tightening. This is one of the reason I put down a book, if it’s written poorly. However, in redemption, if the story is good then I certainly overlook the mistakes as do most of us.

4) Pretentious writing: I’m sorry, this takes the cake for me. If I come across a book that has been written in such a way that tries to show up on its readers, then that’s an immediate no-no for me. I as a reader, read because I want to escape and take a mini-holiday, trapeze across the globe with characters. However, if a book is trying too hard to sound ‘smart’, ‘witty’, ‘glamorous’ then I immediately put it down. We are way past the school-playground-tactics, thank you.

5) Cheesy, underdeveloped characters: I will not waste my time reading books that have a very two-dimensional characters that don’t really do anything for the story. Recently, I started reading a book, and I only managed to get through 5-6 pages. I’ve already written this one off because the characters were simply too clichéd and BORING.

6) Story that is going no-where: This one says it all. This is one of those sad categories where the writer has spent a great deal of time developing the characters at the cost of the story and the story has been buried deep somewhere and is barely visible. Unfortunately for these, they need a going over, and the story needs to be dug up again.

I’m sure there are other fairly obvious reasons for us to put down the books we barely start, or are half way through and the story has fizzled. Unfortunately, not every work out there is for all audience. What are some of the reasons any of you have ever put down a book you had been excited to start? Perhaps in my next post, I can include all the possibilities you put forward.


(If you have hung around my little world and have re-visited, I’d like to thank you! Since the 27th of June, exactly 3 weeks ago, I started finally breathing some life into Papermashed, my little sanctuary, and I’d like to share with you that this experience has been exhilarating, interesting and very motivating. I’ve come across brilliant kindred writers and seen a staggering rise from 150 views to 700 as of today. Thank you, every one of you! You make me want to continue down this road.)


9 thoughts on “What makes you put down a book?

Add yours

  1. I’m with you on every point, but I especially don’t like pretentious writing. If the story is good, you don’t need to put many ‘ornaments’ (beautiful girls are still beautiful with no make-ups). 🙂


    1. Hehe. You make a sound point! I once read a book and literally read two pages before I put it down, because all it had was ornaments but no characters to wear them.


      1. The intro was unnecessarily long winded and frilly, and on top of that, it was as if the writer had literally gone through every word and searched its grandest synonyms. It was a minefield of very awkward and pretentious writing that the writer got away from the actual story telling. I seriously haven’t bothered with that book since.


      2. Couldn’t help but read some of your pieces. And since I’m still getting used to the ways of WordPress, I haven’t yet figured out the full app usage, so hope you don’t mind me dropping a word here. For your piece ‘still the same old love’, I have tinny-tinny suggestion. It’s probably just me but I felt you didn’t have a closure, so maybe something along an additional line of ‘constantly missing you’ might round it out and resonate your entire piece. Just a thought from a fellow write.


      3. Of course I don’t mind. I thought the line ‘constantly missing flowers’ was a good closing line. But I guess you’re right. The beginning of the poem is specific (about missing a girl), so the end should be specific, too (missing a flower, not flowers). Thank you for your suggestion. 🙂


      4. No, I like the line ‘constantly missing flowers’ because it can relate to the blooming if the tree, but I felt the you could add an extra line afterwards to bring attention to the cause that would allow the blooming, and that’s the girl.. Hence ‘constantly missing you’ from a story’s POV


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