I have never been one to commit to books, or movies or TV shows. I can walk away at any time, even just a few moments before the end. If it hasn’t grabbed my attention, I can move on. No qualms. Maybe I’m just a commitment phobe.
But now as I’m spending hours and hours of my time writing and editing, every time I put aside a book for something newer and shinier, I have second thoughts. A little tinge of guilt…should I feel bad when I abandon reading a book?
On the guilt inducing side…
I feel for the writer, now that I have some idea of the process. The hours, weeks, months and years poured into crafting every single word. Sometimes I feel bad for skimming over sentences, thinking back to my last writing session, where I laboured for forty five minutes over a single sentence. A sentence some callous reader could just skip over!
Then I think about how the writer made it through the gauntlet of the publishing world (although a lesser consideration these days with the thriving indie market), through the anguish of finding an agent and getting selected by a publisher. If it made it through the publishing gauntlet, it must be good, right?
On the other hand
Life is short. There are so many other books I could be reading. There are so many other fish in the sea. If it isn’t doing it for me, I should move on guilt-free.
This does not mean the book is bad. It just isn’t right for me at this moment. If I’m in the mood for a mystery with a hunchback lawyer from the 15th century, then an urban fantasy with a mixed race London bobby in the magical division is not going to cut it.
Of course, reading anything after a fantastic book is hard. Rebounds are always fleeting.
Other times, I’ve abandoned a book only to pick it up again later and devour it. Sometimes I’ve just got to be in the right mood.
After this conversation with myself, I’ve decided I don’t need to feel guilty about abandoning a book. It’s not you book, it’s me.
Yeah. Abandon them.
Often it’s deadweight loss. Steven Levitt the Economics Professor says that once he has got the gist of a book if he’s not enjoying it he happily quits it.
People in general don’t quit things enough.
Walk out of films that are poor (especially at MIFF) and stop reading poor books.