Last night I was talking to a friend of mine and came to know that she also gets a creepy feel (a fear, I guess) when she buys a novel and starts reading it. It's just our nature that we don't like to leave the work we started until it's finished, specially when it comes to reading books.

At the beginning of every book that we read, we fear if we start reading the book and don't like the story, we'd have to read it out of compulsion. Not just the two of us but, I believe, many other readers feel the same. I wonder, since this is common among so many people, if there is a word of it already.

I tried looking for it on the internet but couldn't find any.

  • I wouldn't describe that as a "fear", more like a compulsion or obsession.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jan 22, 2018 at 10:22

3 Answers 3


I don't think there is a common, non-technical word. However you are apprehensive that you will be underwhelmed by the book but you are a completionist so you know you will still have to finish it.

(I get the same way, but I stopped finishing bad literature years ago.)


One viable option can be Atelophobia.

Etymologically, the word atelophobia is composed of two greek words; the prefix Atelo(s) means imperfect and the postfix phobia means fear. Therefore the word Atelophobia literally means the fear of being imperfect.

Atelophobia is the fear of not doing something right or the fear of not being good enough. People suffering from this psychological disorder may be often depressed when their perceived expectations do not match reality.

  • I looked for the word on google and it said "Atelophobia is also called the fear of imperfection. A person suffering from Atelophobia thinks that every action he does is error prone." So, the fear is about us being imperfect and not the book being perfect. I was looking for a word that describes these two conditions together : "the book being imperfect" and "the fear of being finishing the job (mainly, reading) out of compulsion". But, thanks for the answer. At this point I'm certain there doesn't exist a term for such a thing. Let's see what others have to say about it.
    – 7_R3X
    Jan 22, 2018 at 13:07

I guess the only close word is "Tristophobia" which is mostly the fear of sorrow and sadness but is also a fear of related emotions, such as grief, distress, despair, and disappointment. Since you feel disappointed if a book isn't up to our expectation you feel disappointment which is actually related to sadness. Fear of disappointment.

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