A little over a week ago I ran across an article that discussed a serious problem that can affect some readers – the inability to quit reading a book you don’t like.
I suffer from this affliction. I can count on one hand the number of books that I have put down, unable to finish, in the last ten years. 3. If I include the number I wished I had stopped reading, that number climbs. Technically, if I go back farther, into college for example, the number grows significantly. But those books are a different story and not ones that I count as part of this problem.
The writer of the article from BookRiot.com mentions that a bookseller at local bookstore has been trying to talk her out her problem for nearly a decade. Her argument for completing books she doesn’t like is much grander in scale than mine. She wonders if the end of said book answers a question that she has always pondered. Her bookseller friend mentions two points; (I’m paraphrasing and inferring) first, if you didn’t like the first 200 pages why would you like the second 200, and second, you won’t ever be able to read all the books you want anyway.
My reasons could only aspire to be as lofty and existential as hers. I simply feel that once I’ve decided that I’m not enjoying a book, I’ve devoted too much time to it to simply put it aside and move on. You’d think I’d know that by the time I was 50 pages in, but I continue to give books another chance. I think, maybe if I read another chapter or another 15 pages something will happen that will change my perspective. The next thing you know, I’m over halfway through a book I’d rather burn than finish, yet I continue to slog through to the end.
Before reading her article I had two questions. The first, she answered as I now know that I’m not the only one that tortures myself like this. Second, is there a way to stop? The three books I’ve stopped reading over the last 10 years have all been extreme cases. I would have to purposefully set aside time to read in hopes to move closer to the end. After too long attempting to read the book I came to realize that I no longer remembered what previously happened in the book.
Maybe one day I’ll come to realize that it’s okay to put down a book I don’t like and move on to the one on my shelf calling my name. Until then, I will just have to continue to be selective in picking my reading material.
Do you have any books you haven’t finished? Why?