I have always been a voracious reader. I learned to read when I was four years old, and I read my first novel (Anne of Green Gables) when I was seven. For the most part, I've enjoyed reading everything I could get my hands on. However, there have been a few times when reading felt like slogging through waist deep wet sand, where it became painful to continue reading. When this happened, I used to force myself to finish anyway, for I felt that I should finish what I started. And maybe--just maybe--it would get better. It usually didn't, but I could pat myself on the back and brag that I read The Scarlet Letter and Dracula.
As I've gotten older, and I have more demands on my time, I find that I have less patience for such things. I recently downloaded a free ebook called The Last Ringbearer which purports to be the story of The Lord of the Rings told from the other side of the war. Intriguing idea, I thought. I didn't even finish the second chapter before I set that one aside. I've done this with a couple of other books lately as well. What with my dayjob, my writing, and the books I actually enjoy reading, I just don't have the time or inclination to plow through something that doesn't grab me or, even worse, is painful to read.
For me, a book that is painful to read is one that is written like a history textbook. Things happen, maybe even exciting things, but the style of writing is such that I'm bored. This includes long telling passages, info dumps, and distance from the main characters. I want to be inside the MC's head, seeing what s/he is seeing, feeling what s/he is feeling. This is the way I try to write.
What do you find painful to read? Do you plow ahead anyway, or do you abandon the book?