Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Quitting is for the Weak

Over at YAnnabe, Kelly posts 7 Tips for Quitting a Book. Yes, my children. Quitting. It's okay.

When it comes to books, a lot of people seem to feel that it reflects on them morally if they don't finish every book they start. As if they're Bad People because they couldn't make it through a book. As if books, unlike movies and TV shows and webpages, don't vary wildly in their quality and content. No, you must Finish the Book. Otherwise you are weak. Weak! They tell their kids the same thing, and what's the result? Reading is a chore. Moooo-ooom, don't make me reeeeeeead. It goes hand in hand with the idea that books are Good For You, like broccoli.

I quit eating broccoli a long time ago.

Meg Cabot occasionally reiterates her own personal motto that quitters actually do win, because they've tried it, discovered that it wasn't for them, and gone on to something better. Awesome.

I recently computerized my TBR list on LibraryThing and was amazed that I have over 1500 books on my list that I want to read. Granted, many of them are picture books, and I read fast, but . . . 1500?! And with the number of blogs I read, more gets added than subtracted. I've had a fifty-page rule for years, but it's only been recently that I even started weeding my TBR list, glancing at plot summaries and reviews to decide whether I really want to spend my reading time on this book, I mean really.

I've quit a book for all sorts of reasons--"who really talks like that?" dialogue, "as you know, Bob" infodumps, plots with all the twistiness of a block of wood. A few months back, I quit a book because the romantic interest was too damn perfect. (Author, please. He's a teenage boy. He can make a fart joke or something. It's allowed.)

What's your personal tipping point?


The Floating Lush said...

I'm personally still struggling with the whole "it's ok to quit" thing; in my mind, this is because I spent too many years in school, where you had to read all of it it, no matter how bad it was, because it was FOR CLASS and therefore COUNTED.

I've very recently started quitting books that weren't grabbing me, and it's so freeing! :D

Bibliovore said...

I know what you mean about school influencing that feeling. It'll be on the test! The ESSAY test! I have finish this piece of drivel or I'll fail and I'll never get in a good college and I'll be living in a van down by the river!

Sometimes I feel a little guilty for quitting, especially when several books in a row have failed my fifty-page test. Am I being too picky? I'm so mean. Should I just give it more of a chance?

Then I pick up a book that grabs me with tentacles of Krazy Glue, and I think, "No, it's fine. This is the kind of fun reading should be."

The Floating Lush said...

My other personal demon is "what if it gets better THREE PAGES AFTER I STOP READING???" Oy.

My new mantra is: Fun reading should be fun! Hard/boring reading was for grad school! I can quit whenever I want to!

Schatzi said...

I haven't been able to reconcile the fact that I know it's okay to quit a book with my instinctive, emotional response. Books are my thing, they're the one area in which I can't quit! Which means that I lie to myself constantly, telling myself that I'll return to them someday ...

Kelly said...

It's been great seeing everyone's thoughts on this topic! I used to finish every book I started (I agree it's a school thing), but The Floating Lush hit it on the head...it's so FREEING not to have to finish every book!