Ask a Literary Lady: What Should I Do with the Books I Don’t Like?

photo 3Ask Ginni, our resident Literary Lady, anything you want to know about reading and relationships! She’ll comb the books and wrack her brains to help you out with your page-turning problems, your wordy woes, and your novel nuisances. Fire away, Bookworms!

Dear Literary Lady,
Moment of truth – What do you do with books you don’t like?
– DarlingDudsofMay, Ann Arbor, MI.

Dear DarlingDudsofMay,

Literary Lady loves all books and doesn’t dislike any of them.

I jest. Of course there are books I don’t like. I once stayed up until 4 a.m. reading a book that ended in a rather unexpectedly terrible way (in my opinion). I promptly threw it across the room in disgust, Silver Linings Playbook–style.

We’ve all been there before, white-knuckling through a book we just can’t get into. Here’s my advice for those rare books you don’t like: Leave it, Lend it, Learn from it.

1. Leave it.
Leave the book aside and give it a second chance later on. I initially chalk up my disinterest or dislike of the book to other factors. It could be my schedule, my mood, or even my maturity level at the time. A little while later, when schedules have shifted, when seasons have changed, or when I’ve lived a little more, I’ll pick up the book and attempt to read it again.

If the book is still unappealing the second time, move on. There’s no need to force yourself to read something you don’t like. There are too many wonderful books still unread as it is, and far too little time to read them all.

2. Lend it.
Instead of letting the book gather dust, I lend it to friends. I’m always honest with my friends about my inability to really get into it myself, but I want their opinion. Lending out the book always makes for some wonderful literary conversation and can shed some new light on your own experience.

But if there are no takers, and the book is still sitting on my shelf untouched, I like to donate it. You can give it to a book drive, to the local library, to a prison, to a nursing home, to the take a book, leave a book section of a local coffee shop. Now you have more room on your shelf for new books!

3. Learn from it.
Lastly, I make a point to learn from the books I don’t like. Doing so tells you about your own literary tastes, which ultimately allows you to find more books you’ll like in the future. Ask yourself, did you find the prose off-putting, or was it the protagonist? Is the thematic material not to your taste, or was it the pace of the book that pained you? The answers will enrich your understanding of what kind of reader you are.

Most importantly, keep exploring new books and pushing the limits of your own literary tastes. If you dislike an occasional book, there’s nothing wrong with that. It means that you’re being adventurous, passionate, and thoughtful about your reading—just like a true book nerd should.

Love and paperbacks,
Literary Lady

Have a question for the Literary Lady? Put it in the comments!

  • Gwen Goble-Bartzen

    I delete them…………

  • Debbie Lamb Ousey
    • Christina O’Malley Valentino

      I wish I had the talent to do some of those – they are great!

  • Rebecca Hernandez

    I love books. I hate sad endings. How do I handle those books with ought saying “oh please no not that ending! Why? Why? Why?”

  • springchix53

    I leave post it notes in bad library books so more readers do not waste their precious time.

  • Katie McCrady

    Donate them to your local Little Free Library if you have one!

  • emilysometimes

    Um, sell them for money to buy more books, maybe?

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