Thursday, 13 November 2014

Reading differently

A few weeks ago if you had asked me how easily I give up on books I'd have said that I am a dedicated reader and once I've started, that's it, I'm not stopping. Fast forward to today and I'm considering giving up on (at my last count) my third book in a row. Why the change? Well, that's a jolly good question.

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?



  1. 3 in a row? Good for you! As a former never-DNF'er myself, I know it can be hard to let books go, but really it is sometimes for the best. I hate the wasted money too, but it's no good to waste money AND time -- and hopefully you can get some credit at a secondhand store if you trade those medicore books in. Love this --> "there is too much to experience to waste time on mediocrity." and think it should be my new motto :)

  2. In theory I completely agree with the idea of giving up on books if they aren't working for you, but in practice I find this really really hard to do, especially if it's a book that I've bought myself. I am also the kind of person who will keep on watching TV programmes in the hope that they will return to their former glory at some point, even if I am actively not enjoying it. Sometimes this pays off, sometimes it really doesn't, but I think I'm just that kind of person.

    I do find myself being really picky when buying books in the first place though (unless they are dirt cheap) because I know that whatever I read I will feel obliged to finish!

  3. After years of reading books that I had to, or thought I had to, for work I finally reached the conclusion that you have: Life really is too short. I wish I'd reached it sooner!


© Lit Nerd. All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig