It’s more than just a question. It’s actually a little more complicated than it sounds. Is your first response a resounding and triumphant “YES, READ!”? Bear with me for a moment. You see, one of my New Year Reading Resolutions was to stop reading that book that I’m having a hard time getting into. It’s hard. Its almost like breaking up with someone “Its not me, Its you.” “I’m just not that into you.” Harsh, but true. How many times have we felt obligated to finish a book. Why? Why do we do that? Are we afraid to hurt the book’s feelings?
I remember two books that I could not finish in high school: Flatland and Old Man and the Sea. Flatland is great if you’re a mathematician. It’s about a dot who lives on a line and meets a triangle and a square, then a circle and a sphere and the whole hierarchy of shapes with sides. NO, no, don’t go. You see what I mean about that one, though? Two sentences and I’ve almost lost you already. Old Man and the Sea just might be the most overrated book ever, in my opinion. Ok, I know its Hemingway and I mean him no disrespect but this old man goes fishing and catches a big fish or something and his hand gets cramped up so he gets dragged out to sea in his little boat. I don’t know what happens after that, its about as far as I got. Lots of metaphorical wonderful meaning, I’m sure but just not for me. Maybe you loved it – but that’s my point. Just because you can’t get into the book does not mean that someone else won’t love it.
I’m currently reading The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare. I want to love this book. I really do. I absolutely adore The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series. I’ve read them all like five times. However. I’ve started The Bane Chronicles over a week ago; and I’m on page 40. Which is really bad for me. Usually I’ve got 40 pages done in 20 minutes, easy. The only reason I’ve had a hard time putting this one down is because it ties into the other books that I love so much and provides a little background story for the next time I read them. BUT, I’ve decided that I’m putting this one down for now. I may go back to it later and try again, but if I don’t – its OK.
So, there were a couple of other tactics that I’v tried when I am struggling through a book. For instance The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Both really good books, and I just had to know how they ended, but they were going a bit too slow for my taste. So I skimmed and skipped. Skimmed over chapters and pages to look for key events so I did not miss anything too important, and skipped to the end. I think that’s why we (or at least I) get suckered into reading these books that I’m really just not enjoying – there’s some part of me that just wants to know what happens at the end. It’s like rubbernecking on the freeway; everyone does it – it’s an awful accident, someone gets hurt but we have to know…what happened, who hit who, was anyone hurt, are the cars totaled, is it anyone I know? Do you ever go back home later that evening and look it up on the news for more information? To see if the persons involved are OK? This is my version- for readers, anyway. Skim and Skip.
So the next book that you start to read but you’re just not enjoying as much – don’t be afraid. Let it down easy if you want, or just rip the band-aid off. Save it and try again another day, give it away, donate it to a library or a little free library. Give it a new life and a chance to meet someone new who will give it the love and attention it deserves. You’ll both be happier in the long run and you’ll be able to say ‘it was for the best.’ Look at all the lovely, wonderful, mind-blowing books I’ve been able to read since then!