What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

21 August 2013

Are You Going to Finish That? (A Post About Reading)

A few minutes ago, I set a book aside unfinished. It will go back to the library the next time I go.

From time to time, a conversation will arise on Facebook (sometimes on Twitter, but I usually see it on Facebook) about abandoning a book after starting. The discussion generally splits about 50/50, with one half declaring they don't finish books that aren't interesting, and the other half insisting that they cannot walk away, even when the book is boring.


When pressed, I've seen people answer, "I like to finish what I start."

So do I, but I reserve the sentiment for things like deep cleaning my living room or projects at work, not a book I started of my own accord and am under no obligation to finish. I've never signed a contract with an author to the effect that if I start reading one of her books, I absolutely will read every word.

Someone once told me, during such a conversation, that she was relieved to know that I don't finish books if they don't interest me, because that makes her feel like it's okay for her to do the same.


Look at all these books waiting to be read!
From hhsara on stock.xchng.
(I can't remember who it was. Maybe she'll come along and identify herself. I have it narrowed down to about four people, but I don't know which one it was.)

If you're waiting for the permission of a voracious reader to abandon a book that bores you when you're reading for enjoyment (for school or work is obviously a different story), then here you are: You have permission to set a book aside. Really. Life is too short and there are too many books for you to force your way through a book you'd rather not read. Put it back on your to-read list if you think you may come back to it someday. (I've done that with Les Misérables, which I am now close to finishing about nine years after my first try, and Catch-22, which I think is on my list to try again over Christmas break.) Or just put it down. Return it to the library. Pass it on to someone who might like it. Take it to a secondhand bookstore. Let it go.

It doesn't surprise me that the "I must finish a book" crowd among my friends is almost the same as the "I don't read a lot" crowd. There are a few exceptions. Not many. I can't think of anything that would kill my reading joy faster than forcing myself through a book I didn't like.

What about you? Are you a must-finisher or a forget-this-er? Do you have a threshold, like the 50-page test, to decide where to stop?


Dan said...

For me, it isn't so much a decision to quit books, it's just that some never draw me back. Ideally, I'll eventually finish all the books I've started, even the not so great ones, but probably not.

Anonymous said...

If it bores or irritates me..it's 'out'a' here. I'm getting too old to waste my time.

Mia Hayson said...

I don't finish all books, but I give it my best shot because sometimes my patience pays off and things get fab. :)

Karen M. Peterson said...

I try to finish every book I start, but there are some that I just can't get through. And I don't feel bad when I have to abandon them.

J E Oneil said...

I don't finish every book I start (some are just to boring), but I like to. It's not a sense of obligation, but rather that I like to have a full picture of the book so I can figure out just why it didn't work. Every book has something to learn from, even if it's something not to do.

Su Wilcox said...

All great thoughts.