Friday, July 13, 2018

To Finish or Not to Finish

What makes it so hard for us bibliophiles to stop reading a book we're not enjoying? One article suggests optimism- "it'll get better!" I've been there. But usually all that leads to is disappointment because let's face it. If you don't enjoy it at the outset, and you have to keep telling yourself maybe it'll get better to push through, it probably won't and you'll be telling yourself that right to the bitter end. And it will be bitter, because you'll just want to quit even when you're like 10 pages from done and feel like a jerk anyway.

I've also heard guilt can play a part. "Well," you might tell yourself, "the author worked so hard and I should respect that by giving it a chance." Been there too. But the thing is, the author is never going to know, unless you write a blog post about it or go on social media and name names. You bought the book; that's all the author knows. And they might not know that you bought it, just that someone did. Or not even that, if you got it used or borrowed it from the library.

Some people feel honor-bound, like it's a mark of character to finish everything you start. "I'm not a quitter!" you might hear. As if that is the worst thing in the world to be. And when I was a kid I didn't like when a parent or teacher called me a name like that. But that's just a bully tactic designed to keep you in line, not a way to live your life. I've quit bad jobs, bad sandwiches and bad friends. Why not quit a bad book?

So you can probably tell how I feel about ditching a book. Just fine. Usually. Except when I don't.

Like right now I'm reading an award-winning book inscribed to me personally by an author I've met and follow on social media, though who would probably not recognize me on the street at this point. (Actually more than probably. I've passed them on the street and they did not recognize me.) And it's that inscription that's keeping me going, like I think this person actually likes me or something, which is ridiculous because see aforementioned remark about not recognizing me on the street.

So anyway. What to do? Put it aside and start a new book, I think. Right?

1 comment:

Catherine said...

You're asking the wrong person. I am so easily guilted into things. Usually only by my mother, but as a writer (even if it is just reviews) I know how hard they work. Still, I have finally reached the point where I DNF- with varying degrees of success. If it's poorly written or completely out of my sphere of interest, it's easy. But if there is a kernel of hope or if people I trust have loved it, it's harder.

I imagine it's even worse if there's a chance of seeing the author. There are several I interact with on twitter and while I love it I do worry that the time will come when I don't like something they write and it will be awkward. Except, as you mentioned, I don't go on social media and discuss books I DNFed. I do review them, but that's my job- letting readers know what I think they'll like and what they might not like.

Sorry so long-winded- great topic!