I laughed out loud when I read Anne Bogel’s post on the The Single Best Thing You Can Do For Your Reading Life because I’d recently declared that 2019 would be the year of the abandoned book!
Last year was not a good reading year for me and looking back at my book of books, I think I can see part of the reason. In almost every case of a reading “vacation,” I had just finished a book that I didn’t like. I don’t often finish books that I’m not enjoying, but if I do it’s usually because:
- A close and trusted friend raved about it. I’d like to be able to discuss why I didn’t like something with them.
- Everyone else on the planet seems to love it. I should too, right?
- Maybe the ending will make it all worthwhile?
No, no, no.
Friends don’t let friends read books they don’t like. They just don’t. If I recommended something to a friend and she came to me saying that she wasn’t enjoying it, then I would say abandon it!! I know that my friends would do the same. No need for explanation. Reading is more important!
And we all know that the publishing industry is a marketing industry, just like any other. The latest New Yorker expose should remind us of that, at the very least. So don’t trust the circus around a roll-out of a book. That circus is someone doing their job very well, not necessarily the sign of a book that you will definitely love.
And yes, maybe the ending would be worthwhile. But could it really be worth the pain and anguish of forcing yourself to spend at least 5 precious hours on something that feels like torture? Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but — there are SO many books out there. Why get stuck on this one?
There’s an argument that understanding why you don’t like a book gives you tools to make your own writing stronger. Sure. But if I want to immerse myself in words and ideas, it’s more important for me to read. I know myself – I won’t read if I’m not enjoying it because obviously I’m a heathen.
And I choose to read.