Ever since I came across this interesting piece of research on Goodreads last week, I’ve been thinking about just what it is that makes me abandon a book before I’ve reached the end of the story.
I was always proud to be one of those people who would never give up on a book without finishing it, even if it took me months. I slogged my way through The Odyssey in rhyming couplets in three months. I read The Divine Comedy in its entirety. I started Wuthering Heights and The Great Gatsby three times before they finally stuck and I made it to the end.
Unfortunately, I never did get very far through Trainspotting.
But over the last year or so my attitude has begun to change. Maybe I’ve just read too many mediocre or downright rubbish novels recently, but I no longer have the patience to persevere with a book I’m not enjoying.
Sure, if it’s a classic, the latest effort from an author I love or it has some value to me, I will keep going. But random, badly written books with little or no story and difficult characters leave me reluctant to even bother picking them up again. I’ll spend two hours playing pointless games on the iPad or watch an episode of Castle I’ve seen ten times already if it means I don’t have to read another word.
There are just so many books in my To Be Read pile and unfortunately, thanks to work, blogging and life in general, reading time is often limited so I don’t want to waste it on unworthy material.
A few months ago, I reached a point where I had fallen out of love with reading. I would look at the piles of books I had to read, many of them for review, and it felt like a chore; another task that I had to force myself to complete so it could be ticked off an ever growing list.
Fast forward a few weeks and I’ve just completed The Hunger Games trilogy and Game of Thrones, all books that have been on my personal list for ages but that I’ve had to put off. Finally I feel my love of reading come rushing back, as I try to sneak a few chapters on my lunch break or stay up until 1am mid-week just to get to the end of a gripping story.
So, to keep the fire burning, I’ll be following these simple rules:
- Is it a classic example of literature?
- Do I have to review it?
- Have I read and loved anything by this author previously?
- Am I enjoying it so far?
If the answer to all of these questions is NO, then I’m afraid I will be consigning the book to that dusty pile of unfinished fiction that I may come back to in future.
But honestly, I probably won’t bother.
Because life is just too short for bad books.