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How to decide whether to keep reading a book

I’ve devised a framework for deciding whether to give up on a book. It’s designed for me and my particular reading issues, but it might be universally applicable. I’m very proud of it and so far have used it to successfully send on their way two books I had been ‘reading’ for months.

The method: First I have to give the book at least two reading sessions. I’ve left the definition of a ‘session’ up to interpretation but it should be at least a half-hour or so.

After two sessions, I am to ask myself the following questions:

1. Does this feel worthwhile? Meaning, like I’m learning something useful with non-fiction, or like I’m enjoying it with fiction.

2. Is it causing me to avoid reading? One of the reasons I want to change my reading habits is that whenever I’m reading a book that isn’t interesting to me, I would end up just avoiding reading it and wasting time I could have been reading other, better books.

3. Have I given it a fair chance? Another know-it-when-you-see-it kind of criterion.

The goal: books so absorbing you’d rather read than put trousers on

Then, if I feel like I have given it a fair chance and either it doesn’t feel worthwhile or it’s causing me to avoid reading, I will give up on it. If not, I’m to give it another two reading sessions and ask the questions again.

After applying this method to my on-the-go books, I’ve abandoned two – How to Take Smart Notes (I just wasn’t buying it, and there was a lot of waffle in the middle) and a Finnish self-help book which was not helping. I decided to keep going with a David Sedaris one and started one new book: Lamentation, book 6 in the magnificent Shardlake series by C. J. Sansom.


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