Here’s yet another perspective on this issue, one that always seems to serve up perpetual fascination and eternal debate among serious readers.
If you absolutely must finish every book, you’re viewed as a glutton for punishment and as someone who has the inability to take control of your time. If you have no qualms about calling it quits, perhaps the thinking is that you haven’t given the book enough of a chance. Either way, premature read-jaculation (I just made that up) is a serious issue in our literary world.
Two more books landed on my Did Not Finish (DNF) list this week – both memoirs, both getting reviewed well by others on Goodreads, one a former NYT bestseller. For me, the issue came down to the writing. Both stories were too hyper-focused on the narrator, when in fact it was really the story of others (the mother’s son in the first book, a group of orphans in the second) that deserved and needed more attention.
So as I was adding them to my DNF category on Goodreads, I noticed something interesting. They were, respectively, my 65th and 66th DNF books since I started keeping serious track of my reading about four or five years ago.
There’s nothing overly significant about those numbers … until you take into consideration that right now, I’m at 63 books read for 2013. My goal is still 75, but unless there are some short books in my very near future (and there could be) a dozen more books are looking elusive in the time remaining for 2013. Unless I’m pleasantly surprised (and focused), I’ll probably top out in the mid-60s or slightly higher.
Which … equals the same number of books I abandoned, since I started tracking such things.
Which … is the equivalent of a year of books.
Let’s think about that for a second. So, if I had stuck with those books out of some false sense of obligation to an author who (most likely) doesn’t know I’m alive, or because of some pact with myself that I must finish what I start, then the price would be a year of my life.
Granted, I wouldn’t have been reading during every minute of every day of that hypothetical year, but those would be the books that would have made up a reading year, yes?
One of the arguments for abandoning a book midstream that isn’t working is that life is too short to read books that we aren’t enjoying.
In my case, now I know exactly how long that is.