I Can Quit You

You might disagree. Although the last time I thought people might not second my opinion around here, I was gabbing about liverwurst. Who knew I wasn’t alone in my enjoyment of a meat product rich in Vitamin A? I love you guys.

It’s summer. To me, summer means sweat tea, porch sitting, and reading (more) books. Let’s be honest. I’m always reading more books. I don’t need warm temps and a nice breeze to motivate me in the literary direction. Just ask Stockton, he’ll tell you in one, good-natured eye roll how fast I devour books.

I select my books with care. Perhaps I’m listening to an earnest recommendation from a friend. Or noticing a few strong reviews on Goodreads. Or hearing about a book on one of my favorite lit podcasts. I add those titles to my To Be Read list and see if the library has them. Soon, I find the eBook or audiobook on my iPad. (If I’m really desperate, a paperback, read with a magnifier. I won’t let the low vision stop me.) I’m eager to start the story to learn, to be entertained, to be thrilled.

It’s not all pleasant, the books and the reading of them. Sometimes, a book lets me down. And I’m not talking about an unlikable character or a too-neatly-tied-up ending. A few chapters in and I find myself bored or confused or grossed out. It’s not good.

My books, they’re not required reading. This is my time, my energy, my taste. If a book doesn’t intrigue me, entertain me, make me want to turn more pages, it’s over. I break up with it. No guilt.

Even when a book is great, I’m not going to feel bad about skimming pages if I get the point already. Ahem, Mr. McCourt, your childhood was awfully awful, even if your words on the page are magical, I can only take so much pain. Or Ms. Atkinson, who wrote Case Histories which I loved. I couldn’t get into Life After Life. Abandoned that one outright.

Everyone will not like every book. There’s too many great books to waste time slogging through one that doesn’t grab the reader by page 50. I quit a book if it doesn’t work for me. It’s that simple.

Alright, unleash the hounds. Do you finish every book you start? Am I a shameful reader for abandoning books occasionally? Do you feel guilty for quitting on a book? Which books have you quit? Please share.




19 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am in total agreement – I used to feel guilty about not finishing a book but ever since Mrs. P., my sons’ 3rd grade teacher, gave them permission to close and quit a book after 2-3 chapters, my guilt was over. Books are like shoes some fit and some don’t….

      1. I so agree about not feeling guilty when quitting a book for whatever reason. I like the comment about Mrs P the 3rd grade teacher who gave children permission to quit. In this context my tutor at Uni (English Literature degree) told me ‘guilt is a wasted emotion’. What a relief to have it spelled out.

  2. Casee says:

    I have the “50 page rule” also. My time is valuable and there are so many great books out there I won’t waste time on a book that is slow to get started or that seems meandering. I like books that jump right into the story.

    1. Fantastic. If the book doesn’t jump, than I will!

      1. Casee says:

        Excellent! I need that on a coffee mug.

  3. Susan says:

    I seldom quit reading a book. Call it OCD….I keep reading, thinking it HAS to get better….there has to be a point to this. I think the last book I quit was a Clancy book and then I decided to not pick up another one.

    1. I can respect that reading method–once and done.

  4. Trisha says:

    I’ve quit a lot of books ever since a friend told me about a couple of websites that have free Kindle books. I only download the ones that sound half way decent and of those only about 1 in 50 are worth reading. I don’t even know why I look through the “deals” anymore! I’m definitely in the book quitter camp now!

    1. The free pile can contain a lot of garbage. Sometimes it’s like, did the person just put a first draft file up there?

      1. Trisha says:

        Seriously! I just slogged through one: great idea, dreadful execution. I wanted to get the red pen out and send the author my edits!

  5. I am slowly learning that it’s OK to put a book down. Sometimes, though, I’ll pick it back up. “Life After Life” took a second try and I really enjoyed it. Same with “The Book Thief.”

    1. Sometimes I wonder if I would listen to a book rather than eBook it, would I like it then? And vice versa. I listened to The Book Thief and really enjoyed it, but got the sense if I had ebooked it, I might have felt dragged along.

  6. Casee says:

    The books I am more likely to stick with at least until the middle are the ones that have come highly recommended by people I respect. I will suspend my “50 page rule” for them. If they burn me more than twice with bad picks they are off my trusted list. There are only so many hours in a day to waste on books that aren’t for you.

    1. It’s tough when a friend’s book recommendation doesn’t work out.

  7. Modwyn says:

    Which lit podcasts do you enjoy?

    1. A lot, Modwyn, a lot! My top lit podcasts: Literary Disco, Other People with Brad Listi, Book Riot, Books on the Nightstand, Bookrageous, Longform.

  8. bethfinke says:

    Oh, I quit reading books all the time. Life is too short, and there are too many good books out there I haven’t read yet. Once in a blue moon I come across a book Ithat I want to go on longer than it is. The last one? Goldfinch, and so many friends told me it was too long!

    1. I enjoyed The Goldfinch so much I didn’t mind the length. It was her use of sensory details that kept me hooked.

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