Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Giving Up on Books

I’ve given up on a disturbingly large number of books lately. I’m not entirely sure why this is. It could be that I’m simply choosing the wrong books to read; they might not be my style of books, or perhaps I’m just reading them at the wrong point in my life. It could be that as I get older, I either have less patience for books that aren’t blowing me away, or that my minimized reading time (and ensuing shortened attention time) means that it’s more difficult for me to become completely engaged in certain types of books. I do know that I’m reading more non-fiction, and have found that despite my best intentions, it’s easier to put them down then fiction (I’m continually finding half-read non-fiction books in suspended animation deep within the sub-strata of my nightstand). Some of these non-fiction books are "improvement" books (like The Artists Way or "When Things Fall Apart") where I find I need time to absorb the implications of the lessons and to start implementing suggested changes (the homework), but that I don’t always make it back for the next lesson in a timely manner.

Regardless, my bedside table is filled with dozens of casualties – ranging from Elmore Leonard’s Road Dogs (not as entertaining as I expect from a crime novel) to Richard Slotkin’s Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860 (reads too much like a text book to hold my interest for extended periods of time) all the way to Alfie Kohn’s Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason (the least relaxing thing I can imagine when sitting down to read is to read something that details exactly what you’re doing wrong in the rest of your life). I'm not proud of this, but I also recognize that I have limited reading time and I need to prioritize.

Do you give up on books, or do you always finish what you started? Why?


  1. Actually, I think that quitting on a book halfway is something to be proud of.

    Too often, I have found myself slogging through to finish a book that I am not enjoying. But because I already invested the money to buy it; and already invested the time to read part of it; I am too proud; I refuse to admit that its just not worth it.

    But if you're not enjoying a book, then its NOT worth spending time to finish them. Life's too short. And so, I make an effort to quite on books that I'm not enjoying, though I'm not always successful.

  2. I used to be like you - always had to finish what I started. I'm not proud that I don't finish things, but perhaps it's because I don't approach my reading as a plan, or not recently at least. When I get obsessed with a subject or author, that's when I find myself plowing through books one after another and following through everything to the end. But recently i've been picking up things on whims, following positive reviews, etc. and have been regularly dissapointed. Having said that, i know quitting on a book when its no longer speaking to me is the right thing to do, but it still feels vaguely shameful - at least until I get the book off the nightstand. heh.