Until last year I wouldn’t allow myself to leave a novel unfinished. Once I had started reading it didn’t matter whether I was enjoying it or not; as a rule, I had to see it through. This resulted in a lot of speed reading just so I could move onto a better book. It required some discipline but I began to see it as a pointless exercise. Here’s why you should too:
1. Life is short. Too short in fact to use relaxation time on something that doesn’t make the everyday pleasure of reading a pleasure.
2. There are so many good books that deserve our attention. Seek them out and relish the possibilities they offer.
3. You’re an adult now. My rule was a hangover from schooldays where an exam awaited at the end of the book. There is no exam. Reading is not a chore.
4. It is counterproductive. As avid readers we like having our faith in books affirmed. Bad reads don’t achieve this.
5. Books are not like broccoli. You have to like them to get the full benefit.
My most recent unfinished reads are The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and James Lee Burke’s In the Electric Mists with the Confederate Dead. It’s not that I disliked them but they failed to hold my attention when something better came along. Abandonment without the guilt.
There is one caveat to this new attitude. Some books can be started and left to one side with the intention of finishing them at a later date. They might be more demanding than your average read, ask for more of your time, require more investment. That’s why Ulysses won’t be going on the unfinished list. I may be on page 44 since last Summer but it hasn’t been abandoned 😉