I have often asked myself this question.
Here’s another … do you have to justify to yourself why you have decided not to complete a book?
For me, often the answer to both used to be yes.
I went through a period several years ago where I could barely finish any book no matter what the subject matter or genre and frankly I felt bad because of it. Someone had put a great deal of time and creative effort into converting thoughts to words and putting them to paper (or computer screen). Surely I could expend the effort and have patience enough to make it to the end.
I came across some opinions that others had expressed on the matter, did some thinking about it and made a decision.
I was going to let go of the negativity and stop feeling guilty about not finishing a book.
Reading is one of life’s wonderful and enriching experiences. You can go on magical journey’s and meet many different people from different parts of the world and beyond. For me books are ultimately about enjoyment and learning. Continuing with with one if you’re not getting either of those things out of it is, personally for me, self defeating and not a positive way to spend my time. And I do think it impacts on your reading experiences beyond that particular work. I know that I went off reading as a past time because of the pressure I put on myself to like every book I picked up.
I do still like to spend a little time having a internal chat with myself as to the reasons why a book remains uncompleted. I find this to be a learning experience, a chance for me to understand a bit more about what it is I like to read, what mood or frame of mind I am in at the time and how one relates to and affects the other.
Can I give you an example … sure … I can give you two.
This year I have started 12 books and finished 10 (not too bad I reckon).
Becoming by Michelle Obama was put aside because I got to the point where she stared to chronicle her husband’s race for the presidency. For me this was just too much politics and yes, I was of course aware that it would eventually come up. I had enjoyed the book immensely up to that point and found her a thoroughly interesting woman.
Margins and Mainstream: Asians in American History and Culture by Gary Y. Okihiro was fascinating and eye-opening. I enjoyed the fact that it made me stop and think, and encouraged me to look beyond the boundaries and perimeters of thought that had been set by society before me. But it dealt with very heavy issues of racism and marginalisation among others and I felt like having a break from it.
I have every intention of returning to these books eventually as I want to complete the journey that I started with them but for now they can happily hibernate for a while.
For me I’m moving forward with my literary adventures and trying not to be so hard on myself.