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How to Get Through a Book You HATE

We’ve all been there. You buy a book because so-and-so said it was “AN AHMAZZZING MUST MUST,” but after a few chapters you start to realize this is not the end-all be-all piece of awesome that you were told it would be. And what’s worse is that now you’ve spent your hard-won, actual dollars on this thing, so you’re mad enough to actually considering dog-earring (a crime, under normal circumstances) the pages out of spite.

Or, say you borrowed it from the library, but you are still in too deep to drop it like it’s not hot because (a) the person who rec’d it knows you’re reading it and will want to discuss and (b) you’ve already invested time and energy into this thing and you’re a finisher by nature. OR maybe this is required reading for school, and you have absolutely no choice but to slough through it in the name of academia, like it or not.

In any case, we’re here to help nudge you along in your Sisyphean journey through this novel because, ya know, that’s kinda our thing.

Step 1: Try to find something you do like about it (hard, we know).

It might be a long-shot, but ask yourself first and foremost if there might be anything you like about the book in question? Is there that one supporting character that offers a sliver of redemption with some clever dialogue, maybe? Is the author keen on environmental descriptors in a setting that you like? Are there some slick vocab terms scattered throughout that you might be able to add to the lexicon and/or find in the Sunday crosswords? If the answer to all of these question is still “ummm no,” we’ve got our work cut out for us, but don’t give up *just* yet.

Step 2: Don’t be afraid to juggle.

If you really need a break, maybe it’s a good time to put the book down for a bit and splurge out on an old favorite in the meantime. If you’re like me, you’ve been known to have a five, maybe six-book-long list of current reads going anyway, so maybe this one gets a slight demotion in the pecking order… just for a little while.

It could be that you just need to revisit that book (series) that always makes you fall in love with reading all over again (*cough Harry Potter cough*) before you can come back and muscle your way through something of lesser interest. You might find that a brief breather from this story while exploring another gives you a renewed interest in what’s happening in this one. Plus, now you have a great excuse to revisit your forever lit loves!

Step 3: When in doubt, map it out.

If those modes don’t work, maybe try taking the Fitbit approach and give yourself a daily/weekly page goal (with, and this is very important, mini-rewards like a trio of vanilla mini-scones for five chapters or a double scoop sundae for ten). You might actually trick yourself into liking it, thanks to all the sweet tooth satisfaction at play. It’s sad that it has come to this, of course, but yet here we are.

Step 4: Read a review from someone whose opinion you trust.

Normally, reading a review before you finish a book is a no-no akin to browsing the last page before you even start something, but we’re in dire straights right now so the usual rules don’t apply.

Hit up your favorite review blogs and see what other people are saying about this thing (but maybe avoid the spoilers, if possible?). Perhaps there’s a layer of relevance to this story that you’re just not finding right now through all the red you’re seeing, and you’ll have a new lens through which to carry on.

Or you might find people saying it picks up speed halfway through or has a twist you weren’t expecting that makes everything else worthwhile, so hang tight. Or, worst case scenario, everyone else you know was also pretty ticked about the book, so at least now you won’t feel alone as you get back to all the hate-reading.

Step 5: Become a Keep Calm and Carry On poster.

Breathe, fill your mind with “you can do this” inspirational messages from Instagram and/or make a quick list of all the things you’ve accomplished which were way harder than this book right now, dig deep and GO. It’ll be over before you know it, and it’ll feel extra satisfying to close the book on this one.