When It’s Okay To Be A Quitter…

Inspiration / Ramblings / Reading / Self-Improvement

In recent years, I’ve become something of a quitter. And much to my surprise, I’m okay with being a quitter.

Yes, I quit reading books that I don’t enjoy. And I don’t feel guilty or ashamed of this.

Why? Well, because life is short…too short to read tedious books to their uninspiring conclusions.

Life is short. Read Good Books.

Even five years ago, I would have recoiled at  the thought of abandoning a book after I started it. For me, that was akin to literary promiscuity and I certainly wasn’t a book slut.  Once I started reading a book, I practically married it. That book and I were in it for the long haul.

I read books for all the wrong reasons – to impress others with my literary knowledge, to get my money’s worth out of a book, because a book was on a certain reading list,  because I always finished what I started, out of respect for the author and their hard work, etc. When you read for these reasons, it’s easy to feel a sense of obligation and commitment even when you don’t find a book interesting or compelling.

I once spent an entire summer plodding through 545 pages of Crime and Punishment – a book generally regarded as one of the most influential novels of all time. I “got into it” somewhere around page 300. Fyodor Dostoyevsky is great novelist, but he doesn’t float my boat. Finishing that novel was a triumph of pure will. I persevered through it so I could brag about what a literary smartypants I was, how I had read great Russian literature. The truth, though, is that I can honestly recommend that book only as a natural sleep aid. And because of it, I shied away from the other great Russian works. And I’ve missed out on Anna Karenina – a book that I most likely would have enjoyed.

Think About This: Continuing to Read a Boring Book Means You Have Less Time to Read Good Books

Now when I look back, I’m not proud of myself for finishing Crime and Punishment. Instead, I think about the 10-15 other books I could have read that pivotal summer before I started college…books that were engrossing, inspiring, heart-soaring…ones that might potentially have changed the trajectory of my studies or even my life.

Over time,  I’ve developed a much more casual relationship with books. I don’t marry them anymore! I just date them as long as they suit my fancy.

Now, I like to think I have more discriminating standards. I read to relax, to learn, to escape, or to go on adventures when I can’t leave home. For me, these are the right reasons to read. And when I’m reading for the right reasons, it’s easy to quit a book that’s not doing it for me  – regardless of its literary value, how highly it’s rated, how many people I know who loved it or how much money I spent on it.

Because after all, reading is a pleasure, not an obligation or commitment. If you’re reading a book that’s just “meh”, put it down. Just quit.  It’s okay, there’s plenty of other fish in the sea books on Amazon.

So tell me, are you a quitter, too?

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  1. Pingback: My Favorite Books of the Year | The Anonymous Blonde

  2. Yeah, I’ve NEVER had a problem with quitting a bad book. If it doesn’t catch me in the first 100 pages or so, yer outta here! Why should I waste my limited time reading bad books when there are so many great ones out there? Books don’t have feelings – it isn’t going to be hurt if I don’t finish it. Move on. Right now I am reading the White House Chef series by Julia Hyzy. They are murder mysteries that take place in the White House. They have cute titles like Affairs of Steak and State of the Onion. Check them out for a light, fun read. #SITSSharefest


  3. Sigh. I’m still married to my books. Some of them just sleep in other beds for months or years, and then, I’ll pick them up and finish them. I think you make some great points, but I need to know what happens at the end of the story. I need to know if the book somehow redeems itself.


  4. spectraghostseeker says

    If I’m not into it, I’m not going to stick with it.
    I tried to force myself to read “Twilight” because I like vampires and a co-worker raved about it.
    After the third chapter, I tossed it aside. I’m all for purple prose, but that prose was so purple I felt as if I was being strangled by purple!


  5. As you know, I went through this recently so it was fun to read this post. I really liked your dating/marrying analogy too. I hope you get to read Anna Karenina one day. It was a tough slog for me, but worth it in the end. Crime and Punishment is on my life, so we’ll see how that goes …


  6. I’m with you on this one. I quit reading just about every book I attempted to read this summer. I’ve also decided not to blog about the books I couldn’t finish. If it was a waste of my time to read them it is also a waste of my time to write about them.


  7. Never quit! Thank you so much for sharing & linking up at Thank You Honey’s Whatever Wednesday Party!!

    Sarah @ Thank You Honey


  8. Yay! Me too! Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve really had no choice but to discard books that aren’t doing it for me…although for me, it’s more ominous when I keep putting off a book I do want to read…because I know in my stony heart of hearts that I’m probably consigning it to the “will-never-be-read” pile.
    Just popping in from the Booknificent blog hop, by the way 🙂


  9. Thank you, Stacey, I, too, have become much less committed to finishing books than I used to be. We all have different tastes, and as we mature, I think we better realize what we like and don’t like. With so many options and so little time, we need to make our own choices about things we can in life. 🙂 Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.


  10. I’m bad about this but growing at least. 🙂 I have had a very similar experience with Russian literature! I trudged through Anna Karenina (hated it!) then through The Brothers Karamazov because someone said Dostoyevsky was better. Nope. I apparently enjoy when other people quote Russian novels much more than I enjoy reading them myself!

    Thanks for linking up with Booknificent Thursday! Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got this week!


  11. adrianscrazylife says

    I need to keep learning this lesson over and over again. Not so much with books – I am pretty good about dumping a book or a movie if I’m not enjoying it, but just with life in general. I have friends and family members that I need to distance myself from, roles that I need to be finished with, projects I need to give up, but it’s always hard for me. I’m a hopeful person and I always have that feeling that things are going to turn around if I just hang in there long enough. But then it always feels so good when I finally decide to pull the plug on something. I need to remember that feeling.


  12. If I can’t get into a book within a reasonable amount of pages, I quit. The one exception was the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I started and put that book down numerous times. Then my friend told me I had to get past the first 100+ pages and I would love it. So I started over yet again, and she was right. I did love it. But normally, I’d just quit reading, and that would be that.


  13. This is so validating! I just started allowing myself to quit too. I want my life to open up in some way when I read…

    Just found your blog via Modern Mrs. Darcy by the way!


  14. Pingback: Summer Reading, Part II | The Anonymous Blonde

  15. Yes, I’m a quitter. I used to feel the same obligation to finish books, but no more. If I don’t like the writing style or the characters get on my nerves-I’m done. If I bought the book, I get a bit annoyed at losing money on something I didn’t enjoy. If it was a library book or a cheapie, there is no guilt,lol.


  16. eclipsed823 says

    After having two small children, a full time job, and a house to run, life is too short to waste on crappy books!


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