All of my younger life I felt like I could never EVER give up a book. Even if I hated it. Even if the writing was terrible. Even if I didn’t enjoy a thing about it.
I remember reading The Boggart by Susan Cooper. It was so dry and lacked the whimsical magic I had hoped it would have. But my mom helped me make a reading plan to finish the book in about a week.
When I had finished, I remember her asking, “Was that so bad?”
While my answer at the time was no, the book hadn’t really gotten better. I basically only learned that if you power through books, thy’ll eventually end.
But this isn’t helpful. While sometimes it’s good to challenge yourself to read books that are out of your comfort zone, reading too many books you don’t enjoy will only make you resent reading entirely.
We shouldn’t force ourselves to read books just to be satisfied to finish them. Part of the joy of books is in the journey of actual reading.
Recently my husband (finally) started to enjoy reading. His mother is an English teacher and has always encouraged her kids to read, but Mitchell has never really enjoyed it.
Until he picked up The Wheel of Time. I saw him read that book faster than he’s read anything in his life. What made the difference? He found books that he actually loved and realized that it wasn’t the reading he disliked. It was just the books he had been trying to read.
This brought me back to my Elementary days, when I was a terrible reader. My teachers must have seen something in me, because they kept giving me harder books than the rest of the class. But I hated the books they gave me (The Indian In the Cupboard, The Mouse and the Motorcycle to name a few).
That’s when I found Harry Potter. Oh, the librarian, my parents, and my teaches all looked at me like I was crazy. I was in first grade and was going to read a book that most sixth graders couldn’t handle.
But I read it. And read all the others. I realized I loved reading. That I loved writing. That I had been missing this piece in my life — all because I had found the right book.
In my senior year of college, I remember the head of the English department saying, “It’s okay to stop reading a book you really don’t like. There’s too little time to waste it reading bad books.”
This was not something I expected to hear from an English Professor, especially the head of an English Department. But these words have stuck with me over the last couple years — and I have given up several books in this time.
I give up reading books when I find myself avoiding reading. When I feel like slogging through the rest of the book is more of a chore than something I look forward to. I’ve read books that I can’t put down. And I’ve read books I can’t put down enough.
But my professor is right. I have so many options of books to read. And so little time to read them. What we choose to spend our time on matters. Why waste it?
Have you ever given up a book? What made you decide it was time to quit? Leave a comment below!