Recently I’ve been speeding through books – not just because I’ve had the time on my hands, but because I feel like so many good choices have been hitting shelves. Not being able to get to all of them is probably the best problem to have so I’m not going to complain. However, when someone pointed out to me that I seem to always be able to find great books I felt like I couldn’t let them keep thinking this without setting one thing straight –
For me, the key to being able to read lots of really great books is not suffering through the ones that aren’t keeping my interesting, making me want to pick it up, or is just a chore to read.
For some reason I think people are hesitant to DNF (Did Not Finish) books because they feel like they owe it a chance – especially if it’s something that they spent money on in hopes that they would enjoy it. Perhaps if it’s borrowed or checked out from a library this pressure isn’t as prominent, but still I frequently see reviews where people claim that a book was such a pain to even get through and I can’t help but ask myself…why would I even bother?
One of the arguments I hear for why someone refuses to DNF a book is that they feel they owe it to the author, as an appreciation of their art, to at least finish the book – as if not doing so would be disrespectful or a slap in the face to the efforts put into their work. But are we like that with other works of art? In a museum, if you don’t like a painting then perhaps you reach a mental place where you acknowledge the craft, appreciate that someone else might love it, recognize that despite these things it simply doesn’t do anything for you, and you MOVE ON.
Yet, with books, we are loyal to our own detriment.
Honestly, I used to be someone who’d never give up on a book. I’d read it even when it took the joy out of reading. Sometimes it’d take so much energy to just get through a book that I wouldn’t even pick up another for a couple weeks – no book, good or bad, should have that sort of power over you.
If you’re not feeling a movie, do you turn it off? Probably. If you don’t like a song, do you listen to the whole album? No, that’s silly. And if you think a comedian isn’t funny, do you make sure you go see his act every time he’s up on a stage near you? No, but the idea itself is comical.
So why do that with books? Life’s too short. Giving up doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a person who values your own time and there are FAR too many great things and books out there to experience to waste time on something that isn’t making a connection with you.
I know none of this is new. You’ve heard this recommendation before, I know. But sometimes you need to hear it again, since perhaps you still need a little convincing. Let this be a reminder to you that no person, no job, and especially no book is worth being miserable over. Your time is your most valuable asset and if you don’t value it, then neither will anyone (or any book) else.