Summer is my favorite time to read books. To be clear, I love to read books every month of the year, but staying inside with a book on a blisteringly hot summer day is magic to me. (Because I hate summer. Sweaty hands wrinkle book pages. That's reason enough for me.) However, for all of my good intentions, I've finished very few books so far this summer. In fact, I currently have five different books half-finished and one I'm currently reading (The Girls by Emma Cline).
Every time I glance at my stack of current reads a cold chill of shame runs down my spine. I'm a book reviewer and a writer…I shouldn't half-finish books. I begin to berate myself, calling myself a failure. What if I'm a poser? What if I don't like to read as much as I say I do? On and on the spiral continues.
Whenever I find myself in this endless shame spiral, I have to remind myself of one thing: Reading is fun.
Or, it should be, right? I maintain that the reason most people claim they don't like to read is because they had a bad experience with one book. So many kids in school are forced to read The Scarlet Letter or some other equally old and dry novel (no offense, Hester Prynne), and decide reading isn't for them. To anyone for whom this rings true, I say this: Have you seen how many different genres there are? Romance, mystery, western, science fiction, poetry, comic books, true crime, biographies, historical fiction, non-fiction. The list goes on. There truly is something out there for everyone.
Maybe you don't know what genre you like. Well, may the half-finished books you start and abandon pave the pathway to your favorite book. Or maybe you do know what genre you like, but you stumble upon a truly awful writer or a cliché plot or stereotypical characters. CLOSE THE BOOK! Why waste your precious time consuming something unenjoyable? This isn't work or school. Reading is supposed to be a hobby.
Perhaps, like me, you have a quality novel between your hands, but your current mindset is making it impossible to dive fully in. Again, put the book down! Many a good book has been ruined because it was read at the wrong time. Wait until your heart is in it. Try it again later and you may be able to add a new book to your favorites list (this is what happened with me and The Book Thief).
Basically, life is short. We are all going to die and my To Be Read list is already way too long for me to ever complete. So, I plan to waste very little time reading books I don't enjoy.
Who knows, maybe one day I'll come back to some of the books I half-finished and, with a little time and space, find them to be much more enjoyable. Or maybe they'll sit on my shelf collecting dust forever, reminding me that sometimes it's okay to quit.
Do you have any half-finished books? What books have you never been able to get through? Let me know in the comments!
As my novel reading struggle continues, I may begin posting short story reviews or do a weekly poetry round-up, as I'm on a quest to increase my knowledge and familiarity with poetry. Let me know if you'd be interested and what short stories/poems are your favorites!
Happy Reading (or quitting!!),