We are only here for our prescribed three score and ten and, having turned 46 in July of this year, I am well into my allocation. Yet, it has taken me all this time, excluding my early years when I couldn’t read, to come to a decision about my reading habits. So, discounting my non-reading years, let’s assume a little shy of forty years has passed for me to realise that I do not have to struggle through every book that I start if I am not enjoying it. I started to come to this, for me, momentous decision, over the past year or so and am slowly beginning to implement it.
Are you like me? Do you feel honour bound to end every novel you start? I bet many of you are. I feel that I have let myself down if I do not persevere to the very end of a book and have many times ploughed on through page after page of tiresome books. I feel a sense of failure when I quit a book. After all, I chose the book; enticed by the cover, the title and the snappy, intriguing blurb on the rear, so it must be a book that I will enjoy, mustn’t it? I can’t be a bad chooser of books can I? Or, maybe on occasion I have been a chooser of bad books? Or books that are bad for me?
From now on, if I am finding a book difficult, boring, hard to follow or whatever it is that I cannot continue with it any longer, I am going to close its pages and place it back on the bookshelf without any regret. I will then pick up the next book from the pile beside my bed and look forward to the journey it will take me on.
I gave a “Place Called Winter” a fair crack of the whip and got to page 144 before I’d had enough. I simply didn’t enjoy the tale and, though I was keen to see if the central character prevailed in his Canadian adventure, I didn’t care enough about him to see it through to the end. Funnily enough, I was far more interested in the brother and would have been happier if the tale was about him. This book just didn’t grab me and, after initially picking it up and getting to page 76 over several days, it was a further five days before I could summon up the willpower to return to it. Five days! That, to me, was the writing on the wall. For an avid reader to take five days to continue with a book speaks volumes about that individual book.
Maybe, if I’d given it more time, then I would have been rewarded by what was to come. Maybe. But no longer will I plough on with a book that fails to engage me.
Because, as I wrote right at the top of this page, life is too short.