I’m no quitter

If you are finding a book really hard to read, do you keep going? Do you think reading should be challenging? I’m not talking about whether the ideas or content should be challenging, because I absolutely believe we should read books that challenge accepted norms and make us questions ourselves. I’m talking about the kind of challenging that involves reading the first ten pages three times in a row and still having no idea what’s been said.

For me, it takes a lot, and I mean a LOT, not to finish a book – I read all three 50 Shades books people, I clearly have issues giving up. Until last week, when I gave up on the Scarlet Letter, I can’t remember the last book I didn’t finish (listen, that half-read copy of the Female Eunuch in my desk drawer doesn’t count, because I am definitely (probably) going to finish that one day). The main reason I’m not a quitter is that I get terrible FOMO about reading; I’m terrified that if I stop reading a book in the early stages, I’ll be missing out on some massive payoff that only comes if you stick with it to the end. I also worry that I’ll be forever haunted by the amazing things that happened on all of those unread pages.

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts

I also have issues finding the point at which to stop reading; twenty pages doesn’t seem like I’ve given the book enough of a chance, but anything over fifty feels like I might as well just keep going – there must be an algorithm for this.

It’s also really hard to know which books are going to be worth the struggle. You would think you’d be safe with the classics – I mean they call them classics for a reason right, except that I stuck with The Sound and the Fury till the end, and it gave me nothing (except a ready answer when anyone asks what my least favourite book is).

Help me out people – should I feel ok about quitting books, or should I be slogging it out no matter how challenging it is? (Also, is seeing Easy A a good enough substitute for reading The Scarlet Letter?)

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6 replies »

  1. I do the same as you. I’m no quitter! I’ve only put down three of four books in my life, and that was a few years ago. I just feel the urge to finish everything that I start, even if it takes me forever to do so. What if the book improves? that’s what I repeat myself everytime I pick up a book that bores me to death. Sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t. The problem when it doesn’t? I go through a reading slump. And that’s just how I roll LOL

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    • So rather than a reading slump, I think I go into reading overdrive after something I hated – I want to erase all the bad feelings…so maybe reading books I hate is good for me!? 😉

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  2. If I get more than half way through a book and it’s still not doing it for me I will often quit. It can depend a bit on the length of the book and whether or not they are universally raved about. I’m more likely to plough on with short books and ones that everyone else loved.

    My OH is more like you though, he’ll finish the book almost no matter what. Our conversations usually go something like

    ME: “If you’re not enjoying it, just read something else. There won’t be a test later.”
    OH: “Yeah, but I’ve started it now.”
    ME: “but you’re miserable reading this.”
    OH: “I know. It’s really boring and poorly written. Still, I have to finish it.”

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  3. This sounds familiar.
    I gave up on one book once, and it haunts me to this day. I can’t tell you what it was called, it was wiped from my memory as soon as I put it down. Though, I gave it a good chop and only gave up at around page 200.
    I refused to believe there really was no point to this book, so I kept going as long as possible in the hope it could get better.

    It was the kind of novel Bridget Jones would buy at the airport to pretend to read on the beach. I gave it back to my dear friend who said I’d like it and told her she should be ashamed of herself.

    On the plus side, giving up on it has given me something to add in conversation to this wonderful blog…

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    • Well hello there ‘Lulu’, if that is really your name, thanks so much for stopping by.

      I have a ‘friend’ with a weirdly similar story to yours, and I think you both need to let it go, stop being haunted by the ghost of unfinished-books-past. Life is short, and other books there are many. 🙂

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