When I was younger, with the exception of Bunnicula, I used to read every single fiction book I started from start to finish. It didn’t matter if I liked it or not. If I started it, I was hell-bent on finishing it.
In some ways, this was a good thing. I’ve read books that I didn’t enjoy and so could comment on why I didn’t like them. I’ve also used examples of books I absolutely hated as comparisons to other books, showing why this book may be better or worse than that one. Over the years I was able to refine my reading taste, discovering that I prefer dialogue to lots of dry description, or that I sometimes get lost in written action scenes.
But as I got older, things changed. I remember one lady saying that she never finishes a book she doesn’t like. In her words, “life is too short to be spent reading bad books.” And honestly, that’s very, very true. There are far more books to read than we will have time to read them. So why waste your time on something you’re not liking?
I’d like to say that I started following this advice right away. But that wasn’t the case. You see, I also was taking a Masters in English Literature at the time. Which meant that I had to read an awful lot of books very quickly. And unfortunately, most of these books were not things I enjoyed (there’s something else I discoverd – I am not a fan of a lot of capital L-Literature). So I forced my way through a lot of books. Some surprised me in a good way (I enjoyed them). Others surprised me in a bad way (I disliked ones I thought I would love). And many were things I would never have picked up if given the choice. So this was a very good time in many ways, helping me broaden my reading horizons.
Unfortunately it also burnt me out on reading a bit. I’m still able to read books. But I lose patience with them much faster than I used to. Where in the past I would push myself through a book I wasn’t enjoying, now I just stop. But I do try to give the book a fair shot before stopping. If I’m not enjoying the book by about 100-150 pages in (depending on its size and whether or not anything at all seems to be happening), it’s game over. And really, why should I keep going if I’m not enjoying myself? Life’s too short to waste reading “bad” books!
This Tuesday’s Talk topic came from the Tuesday Talks Goodreads group.