Finish It or Forget It?
I can be a bit obsessive. It's hard for me to just give up on something I've vowed to do. Take this blog. I started it for fun because I love reading and discussing books. Being a busy Mom and teacher there isn't a lot of time to meet up for book clubs so I thought I'd join a challenge and post my reviews. Originally I thought I'd post 3-4 times a week but life got in the way. Now I average 2 times a week and I've had to be okay with that. It's not easy for someone who doesn't believe in procrastinating or making excuses. But sometimes just okay has to be enough. We aren't robots after all.
Which brings me to today's reading topic. To finish a book or let it go? That is the question. And it's interesting how this has changed over the years since I bought a Kindle. As I said in my last opinion post, e-readers are amazing! So many books at your fingertips. You don't ever have to enter a library or bookstore to get what you want. You don't have to wait for someone to finish a book before downloading your own copy. It seems like there is no down side. Well I'm here to tell you for someone like me, the problem comes into play when I realize how many choices there are. I want to read everything by everyone. And even when I narrow it down to a few books I still have a very long list. So now when I start a book I have paid for or borrowed from the online library I feel like I should finish it. But if I start and it just isn't holding my attention sufficiently, there is always another one waiting. Unlike going to the library and borrowing books, you have so many options. Why waste your time slogging through a book you don't love? Why torture yourself with reading something you aren't totally looking forward to at the end of the day? Isn't reading supposed to be fun??
Well...yes...and no. What I mean is, reading a book to its conclusion isn't fun every second unless it is just a true favorite. And how many true favorites does one read in a lifetime? I can think of a handful of novels or history books that I'd re-read just because I love them so much. Most books are good, but not great. So to say you only continue reading when you love it is very subjective. Do I quit on page 50 because it's starting to drag a bit? If I've read half and enjoyed it do I stop because it's gotten less exciting? What if the action picks up later? What if I didn't give it enough time? These are the things that go through my mind....obsessive.
My conclusion is that everyone has to have their threshold. If reading is to rack up total number of books then you probably won't relate to stopping when it gets boring. Some readers I know will stick with a book to the bitter end just to check it off their Goodreads list. I get it. But doesn't that require discipline instead of pleasure? Or is the pleasure in saying, "I read that book....ALL of it!"
I've noticed that the longer a book is the more I have this problem. Sometimes you have to stop reading really long books for awhile. Take a break. Mix it up. Alternate those 700 page novels with an Agatha Christie mystery. Or maybe continue the novel a few chapters at a time, but stop for a few days and read a shorter book in between. Then go back to your longer book again. I get a new appreciation for concentrating on dense material when I've let my mind rest with something light.
I also notice that how much effort I've put into a book makes a difference. If I've already read about a third of the book I'm likely to soldier on even if I'm not just loving it. At 50 percent it's usually a done deal. Less than 20 percent I'll quit because, like a honeymoon dating period, if you already are forcing yourself after that short of a time to continue, it's not looking good.
Another thing to consider is the author. Some authors I'll give more of a chance because I've already read and enjoyed their other books. Surely I'll like all of them, right? It's often hit or miss though because not every book by the same person is as riveting. Suffice it to say all of this is a personal choice but no one should feel compelled to finish every single book they begin.
Where do you fall on the spectrum? Do you finish everything you read? Why or why not? Can you live with yourself if a book has to go in the "not completed" pile?