August 23, 2013

STOP Wasting Your Time on Books You're Not Enjoying

Ever since I read the survey results, I can't stop thinking about the people who said things like: "A kindle freebie. Don't recall the title. Terrible everything. I never wanted to finish a book so fast!!" in response to "What's the worst book you've read in 2013?"

I find this mind-boggling! Sometimes I get book-paralysis, where I have that moment when I realize that there are 104 books on my 'To-Read' shelf on Goodreads. But given my review responsibilities, I only read about 50-60 "fun" books a year. So then my To-Read shelf would take about two years to finish. 

But in those two years SO MANY MORE BOOKS would come out. And I'd be bound to discover old authors I'd previously missed. And then it dawns on me that I'll never be able to read ALL THE BOOKS. And I get very sad.

This book-paralysis partly explains my incomprehension of WHY ON EARTH people are finishing bad books. There are literally MILLIONS of brilliant books out there. Why are you reading a bad one??

So consider this post your permission slip: PUT THE BOOK DOWN. Seriously, just walk away. Maybe it's badly written, or stupid, or pointless, and you'll never come back to it. Maybe you're just not in the right season right now, and you'll come back to it later. But either way: STOP READING it if you're not enjoying it.

I'm serious. 
  • If you have a bad book on your Kindle, delete it. Who cares if it was free? It's costing you precious reading time!
  • If it's from the library, put it in the "to go back to the library" stack right this second. And don't look at it again. And don't have second thoughts at the library - just ruthlessly stick it back in the book return slot.
  • If you bought it, I'm sorry. Wasting money on bad books sucks, doesn't it? But put it in your Goodwill pile anyway. Don't make yourself lose money and time.
  • If it was a gift, regift it. Unless your grandma wrote a long note in the front or something. Then donate it. And DON'T FEEL GUILTY. Grandma never needs to know.

Let me give you some specific examples. Here are ten books that I started, but haven't finished, in 2013.
  • On Looking: Eleven Walks With Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz
  • Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, with Recipes by Shauna Niequest
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton
  • The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
  • The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
  • Transatlantic by Colum McCann
  • Blood Tango by Annamaria Alfieri
  • Second Sons by David Oliver Relin
  • A Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd
I may finish some of them eventually, I don't know. I imagine I'll give at least Bread and Wine and the Kate Morton a second chance.

But, in the meantime, I have 104 other books to read next.

Do YOU ever give up on books?
Do YOU suffer from book-paralysis?