Saturday, February 25, 2012

When is it reasonable to give up on a book?

I think I was nearly 40 before I got the courage to stop reading a book I didn't like. I have no idea why I persisted. In the hope that the story would improve? To find out what happened? Or simply because it felt guilty to not finish?

When I was a child I read voraciously - books came home,  books went back to the library in a  seemingly unstoppable pattern. I finished every book I took out of the library. I would no sooner have left a book unfinished than left food on my dinner plate.  Unfinished dinners are an entirely different topic, but I am sure that my inability to stop eating even when full is related to the obsession to "clear my dinner plate." But back to the topic....

I can now put down a book unfinished.  I stopped reading the second Harry Potter book around page 81 - I was sick of waiting for the story to begin. It just seemed so repetitive of the first book, which I loved.  I have to live with the fact that I am the only person I  know who has not read the entire series. And soon, I will be an outcast in my own home as even my youngest child catches up!

Speaking of the youngest offspring, he seems unburdened by any sense of conformity. At nine years old, he has requested I again start reading at night to him - it seemed to go by the wayside when he could read junior novels himself. We started a month ago with Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. What a treasure. My son was a bit put off with my choice (I'm choosing the books if I'm reading!) but he soon became entirely engrossed with this WONDERFUL story.

We are currently thoroughly engaged with Henry and The Flea by Brian Falkner, also known as The Flea Thing in USA. I have read this before and really enjoyed it. It's been offered many times to both boys, but in the style of "never-read-anything-your-mother-suggests" had been rejected it. The youngest son is begging me to not stop reading each night. I suspect I will wake up one  morning to find he's finished it.

But back to the between these two wonderful books, we stopped reading a book that simply wasn't holding our attention. I'm not going to mention the book title, because that is not the point. The point is that my nine year old has learnt one of the most important lessons in life, and he did so decades before I did. Life is too short to read a bad book - there are just so many fantastic books to read that you can move on, and do so without a moment of guilt. How liberating.