Roni Loren had a great post this week on the reasons she stops reading a book. She calls herself a “Chronic Finisher”, but now that she has less time to read, she’s learning to set books aside unfinished.
I have to admit, I’ve never had this problem. I don’t have any qualms about setting down a book I’m not enjoying. If it’s boring, if I dislike the characters, or if the writing doesn’t grab me, I’ll put it down and move on to the next book on my massive TBR list.
I do, however, get bogged down in mediocre books. You know the ones… They’re perfectly okay books. The writing’s good, the premise has potential, the characters are just flawed enough to keep me turning pages. And yet I find myself putting down the book after reading a chapter, and when I think about picking it up again, I come up with a million other chores that need doing. I wash dishes, or fold laundry, or aimlessly flip channels on my TV. In the meantime, the book sits there, unloved and unread. This wouldn’t be such a huge problem, except I’m not reading anything else during this time. Or rather, I’m not reading fiction. I might pick up a book on jewellery making, or a diet book by a nutriton guru, but I won’t grab another novel until I’ve either finished the one I’ve got on the go, or I’ve decided to set it down for good.
Unfortunately, this state of limbo can sometimes last weeks, and it wasn’t until very recently that I discovered this was the reason my book consumption has decreased dramatically in the last year. It’s not the bad books that are the problem, it’s the perfectly okay ones that fail to grab me.
Roni describes it this way:
I’ve started to read books that were…fine. The writing was good, the characters were interesting enough, there wasn’t anything I could point to that was bad. BUT at the same time, when I put these books down, I didn’t find myself thinking about the book or that desperate to get back to it. I didn’t feel passionate about anything in the book. It’s kind of a “I could take it or leave it” feeling. Like, if I had nothing better to do, I’d read it. In the past, these would’ve been books I’d make myself finish. Now I’m at the point that I just move on. The TBR pile is too big to waste time on something I’m ambivalent about.
Unfortunately for me, I actually feel guilty when I set aside these ‘meh’ books. Someone out there slaved over this novel. She poured her heart and soul into writing this book, and did a decent job of it to boot. Shouldn’t I be able to get through it?
I’d love to hear your take on this. Do you have any trouble finishing perfectly okay books that just aren’t doing it for you? Or do you push through if you don’t have a solid reason to set the book down?