As an individual of a bookish persuasion I inevitably have this urge to read all the books, gather all the knowledge and feel all the fictional (and non-fictional) emotions. It's a thing and I've long been used to it. Something clicked for me recently that made me realise that reading all the books is more or less an impossibility and all I can do is make a pretty good stab at it. But in making a good stab at it, I may have some false moves that have to be put aside in order to move on.
In the last few weeks there have been a number of false moves. I started Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu in Halloween week and gave up approximately sixty pages in when it occurred to me that Wilkie does it better (Wilkie does everything better). Then I started Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck and made it all the way to 100 pages before realising that I couldn't give two shakes about the characters or the story or the narrative style. Now I'm about forty pages in to Grace McClean's much anticipated second novel and feeling so very uninterested.
Perhaps this is one of those situations when 'it's not you, it's me' actually rings true and I am having some random life crisis where no book is ever good enough. Nevertheless, after much inner debate and turmoil over the state of my mental health, I've come to the conclusion that maybe those books are just not what I need right now and that is okay.
Putting books aside without reaching the end always fills me with such guilt, particularly if I have paid full price for it (thank goodness for second hand stores). I'm confessing this new habit of mine to you in an attempt to rid myself of that guilt. In doing so I have realised that what I should really feel guilty about is wasting time on mediocre books when there are hundreds of new books published every year on top of the thousands of books already published or out of print, not to mention the entirety of Woolf and Wilkie's back catalogue.
From now on I'm going to be taking a similar attitude to reading that I take to life: there is too much to experience to waste time on mediocrity.
And then maybe, hopefully, among all those DNF's and abandoned reads I'll find a true corker of a novel that will make it all worthwhile.
How about you - do you abandon mediocre reads?