Long ago, I always (and I mean always) finished reading a book if I started it. Not only that, but I wouldn't let myself move on to another book until I'd finished the one that was--for whatever reason--giving me problems. I sort of felt that if I'd paid/borrowed a book, then I was going to be sure I read the entire book, otherwise I'd wasted money and/or time. I think I also felt that if I didn't finish it, I might miss something that I'd love later on. I hate to miss things.
However, some time ago, and I don't know how long ago now, I finally decided that I was being...well, let's just say it...dumb. Because the truth is if I have to fight to read a book to the end, then I'm only wasting more of my time AND I'm really just frustrating myself. And both of those things are silly. I dislike wasting time more than I dislike missing things.
Trying to define why I don't finish a book is difficult, though. I'm a very forgiving reader. I can overlook almost anything if the story intrigues me and the author's voice appeals to me. I've been known to laugh at a series of coincidences that are not, in a way, believable--but that won't stop me from reading to the last page if I've become invested in the story. I've been known to re-read passages over and over because the writing in those specific passages was so awkward that I had to do so in order to determine what the author was trying to say. However, that also won't have me tossing a book aside. At least, not on its own.
Typos and misspellings and words used incorrectly drive me a little (okay, a lot) nuts, but as long as there aren't so many of them that they interrupt my flow, I forgive those, too. So what does make me put a book down never to be picked up again?
Several things, actually.
Probably the most important for me is the author's voice. I have to enjoy the voice that is telling the story. I have to believe in the voice that is telling the story. The author needs to be able to make me laugh, cry, fall in love, or shiver in fear. The voice needs to be reliable and trustworthy, and if these things aren't there, then I'm not going to read the book. I always read the first few pages of any book I'm contemplating buying to see if the author's voice hooks me.
After voice comes the characters. I need to be able to see, hear, and believe in the characters, otherwise, I don't care about what happens to them. They need to become important to me. People that I either am rooting for or (in the case of the bad guys) that I want to see get their just desserts. If the heroine is falling in love for the first time in her life, then I want to know why she hasn't fallen in love before, and why it's this guy who has stolen her heart. Characters, to me, are the entire reason to read any book--far more important than the plotline, though I love it when terrific character and terrific plot combine in the same book.
After character is story. There are some types of stories that I will never like, no matter how amazing the authorial voice or the characters are. That's just the way it is. I don't tend to buy books that tell these types of stories though, so I'm not likely to accidentally find myself reading one.
What about you? Without naming titles or authors (let's keep this friendly) what are some of the reasons that you will stop reading a book?