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.
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 f
ish in the sea books on Amazon.
So tell me, are you a quitter, too?