She Reads & Writes

Women • Fiction • Life

piles of books in shallow focus

“No one should ever finish a book they’re not enjoying, no matter how popular or well reviewed the book is.” – Nancy Pearl: Best-selling author, librarian, literary critic, and reader

I used to have the hardest time not finishing a book. I could be thoroughly disliking the novel, but still carry on until the last page.

On the one hand was a sense of guilt: Toward the author who poured themselves into writing it, toward the friend who recommended it, or the book club that would be gathering to discuss it. On the other hand was a sense of obligation: “Finish what you started” is a mantra we’ve all had spoken at or to us growing up.

And while certainly we need the strength of character it takes to see unpleasant tasks to the end (otherwise being a responsible adult will prove impossible), reading fiction should not be an unpleasant task.

Reading fiction should not be an unpleasant task.

Unless you’re reading a work of fiction as part of a class assignment or job responsibility, there is no reason whatsoever to finish a book that you don’t care to finish. Life is too short for that and the free time to read is too scarce.

Motherhood changed my perspective on reading and gave me the freedom to put a book I dislike down. Pulled in more directions than ever, with still only 24 hours in a day, I simply refuse to carry on with a book that feels like a chore. I have enough chores. Reading is one of my greatest joys in life and I plan to keep it that way.

I simply refuse to carry on with a book that feels like a chore. I have enough chores. Reading is one of my greatest joys in life and I plan to keep it that way.

Sometimes this even means putting down a good book. Case in point: The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell. This is a good book that I was so excited to read and am about half way through. The writing is incredible and I want to read it, BUT I just don’t seem to have the brain power for the epic length and nature of the novel right now. This just might have something to do with me being 37 weeks pregnant.

No matter how good The Old Drift is, the book has started to feel like a chore. So I’m putting it down. Maybe I’ll tackle it again later – I truly hope so – but now is not the time. And that’s okay.

Have you, or do you still, struggle with putting a book down once you’ve started it? Or have you always been able to move on if a book doesn’t work for you? Let us know in the comments!

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6 thoughts on “Don’t Finish That Book!

  1. powerap2 says:

    This is a lesson I came to later in life. I am with you all the way — there will never be enough time to tackle all the books I want to read so if something isn’t working out I scrap it. I am the same way now with cookbooks or books I put on hold and waited for… There was a non-fiction book lately that I felt was an important read but it was academic, dense, and very detailed and I just couldn’t hack it. I had a hard time giving that one up but I did!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Susan M.K. Howard says:

      Well done! 🙂

      Like

  2. shannonajade says:

    I’ve always struggled to put down a book I’m not enjoying, but I want to make an effort to change my perspective. Books that I don’t enjoy usually take me much longer to read, which means I can’t move onto books I will enjoy, and I feel less ‘productive’ with my reading. Here’s to reading things that make us happy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Susan M.K. Howard says:

      Yes!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Erica says:

    I had this moment last month with Jane Austen, who I had never read before. I managed to finish Sense and Sensibility and half of Emma before realizing I hated what I was reading. I ended up donating all the Austen novels I had collected over the years because there was no way I could struggle though another. The relief of throwing in the towel was a freedom unlike anything else!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Susan M.K. Howard says:

      Good for you! If you’re hating what you’re reading, then it totally makes sense to donate the books and move on. I will say, I too was never a fan of Austen until I took a few grad lit courses where we were assigned her writing and I started looking at her works differently. BUT if I had never taken those courses and was just reading on my own…prob would have donated, too!

      Like

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