There is a boast among readers, a question that you must answer even if only to yourself. Even Goodreads, the Facebook of books, wants to know and can help you track the answer.
And that is: how many books did you read in a year?
My answer so far? I don’t know. Four? Five? I have a hard time keeping track because I am quick to toss a book aside if it isn’t good.
“But Mama didn’t raise no quitter!” To give up on a book, especially one that you paid money for, seems sacrilegious, but bear with me for a bit and maybe I can explain how and why you should stop reading something you aren’t actually enjoying.
#1 Life’s Too Short
Are you going to read all the books ever written? I know you’d like to, but literature, just like television, cinema, and social media, it is a source of content without limit. You will never get to be done reading. You only have so much time, so you may as well enjoy it.
#2 There’s Something Better
Like mentioned in #1, literature is a limitless well of content. Instead of trudging through a novel full of cliches, flat characters, and startled breasts, just go find something different. Maybe try something in a genre you don’t normally read. I know I should do that, myself.
#3 Give It 100 Pages
Unsure of whether or not you want to stick with a book? Keep on reading until you get to 100 pages. If you’re still not grabbed, set it aside. Go find something better. I’ve set aside a book after ten pages, which seems unfair, but then I remember #1 and move on to something that I really wanted to try. Maybe I’ll come back to that book, once all my other choices are exhausted.
#4 Maybe You’re Not Ready for It Yet
There are some books that I read and disliked when I was younger, then came back to a few years later with a whole different outlook. I remember reading Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death when I was young. Like, really young. What, I was a morbid kid, leave me alone. Anyway, while I liked it at the time, it took me decades and another read-through to actually grasp what Poe was trying to say. Maybe one day, I’ll be ready to read Moby Dick.
#5 There’s a Difference between Crap Reads and Hard Reads—Learn the Difference
You know a crap read when you come across one. Every sentence makes you cringe or roll your eyes. With every new page, you can see it’s a junk book, through and through. Hell, maybe it’s even my book Vessels. (That’s okay, I’m not mad). But then you’ve got your hard reads. With every sentence, you ask yourself what the author was trying to say. Maybe it was written a long time ago, so the syntax and vocabulary are just completely alien to you. Maybe you have to read it for a class, or maybe you wanted to better yourself. Right now, I’m trying to read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and it’s taking me a really, really long time to get through. I keep having to go back and reread a paragraph because dude’s sentences are like a page long. But I know I’m in it for the long haul. It’s not a crap read.
So there you have it. Reasons why it’s okay to put a book down and move on to something different. Just remember to take time out and think why you didn’t enjoy that book. It might make you a better reader.