Monday, January 28, 2013

On Quitting Books

Always!
Confession: A few weeks ago, I quit reading a published book. Just to be clear, this was not a decision I came to lightly. I do not like giving up on books. It makes me sad to not see a story all the way though, and I hate knowing that I've wasted money on something I can't finish. 

This most recent putdownable book is popular, and came highly recommended by a lot of bookish people. I got through several chapters and thought the writing was lovely. The concept was unique and, from what I could tell, well executed. The main character was not off-putting, and the overall voice of the novel felt appropriate. 

You're probably wondering, So, what was the problem? 

Well, that's the funny thing... I don't know. I can't put my finger on why I wasn't connecting with this book and these characters. I think I should have loved it (and them), but trying to immerse myself in this world became something of a chore. I found myself favoring Words with Friends over reading. I'd carry the book downstairs in the morning, then back upstairs at night, having never even opened it. Reading it was a job, something I'd bargain myself into doing. Just ten pages tonight, Katy. Knock out twenty during lunch--you can do it. Get that pedicure, but only if you read the entire time. 

Reading shouldn't be this way, right? It should be fun. An escape. At the very least, reading should teach me something new about writing, or about reading thoughtfully and critically. It shouldn't be something I have to suffer through. Why bother with a book you're just not feeling? says The Voice of Reason. But quitting books is a rare thing for me. I almost always see them through, even the bad* ones, because--to be perfectly honest--I have some warped sense of allegiance to the author and the characters to hang on to the end. 

But I'm starting to rethink this whole "quitting books" thing. First of all, the option to pick the book up again is always there. Perhaps in the future, when I'm in a different head space  I'll have different, more positive feelings toward the story. And even if I don't ever pick up it up again, who cares? I'm realizing that my time is too valuable to spend forcing myself to feel a connection with stories when I so clearly don't. There are too many good** books to read, too many stories that are just waiting to blow my mind. Why not spend more time with them?

*Relative
**Again, relative

What are your thoughts on quitting books? How long do you give a book you're not connecting with? Do you ever feel guilty, like I do? 

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