The 100 Page Treatment: When To Give Up On A Bad Book?

Jason McGathey
10 min readApr 19, 2024
Bad To Not So Great

Many years ago, at some point in the early 2000s, a friend of mine was remarking that he never knew when to give up on a book. As it just so happened, maybe six months at most before this, I had coincidentally settled on a solution to this problem myself: what I’ve come to think of as the 100 Page Treatment. As in, if I’m not into a book by page 100, then it’s time to give it the ol’ heave ho. Of course, this is not the perfect answer — by page 100, for example, you would already be finished with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — but it’s the best thing I’ve come up with. As my friend nodded and agreed that day, saying, “that’s a pretty good idea…I think I’ll try that,” I haven’t just tried it, but have stuck to it (with a few extreme exceptions) ever since.

He are some notes on the various offenders, who were chucked aside at that milepost (as well as some of those notable outliers)

“Left Hand Of Darkness” — Ursula Le Guin

Oh horseshit. There’s no way vast hordes of readers seriously believe this is one of the top 25 science fiction novels of all time. The best thing this book has going for it is that you’re dropped in the middle of the “action” (such as it is) without any explanation whatsoever as to what’s going on. I always appreciate this, as opposed to over-explaining. On the…