When you start a book you should always finish it; otherwise you have wasted the author’s time and you have wasted your time.
So said my favourite 6th Form English Tutor in days of yore and an edict I took to my young heart as unbreakable law.
Which was okay and all until one reads that, statistically, one is unlikely to finish all the books one has sitting on one’s nightstand when one is aged about one and fifty.
And as depressing statistics go, that one is way up there.
Enough to keep this nearly 51 year old wondering if each book she picks up will be THE one. The one which is prised out of her cold dead fingers to be ever more immortalised as HerMelness’ Taste In Literature.
That being the case, shouldn’t the book in her dead fingers be one she was actually enjoying?
Usually the problem I have with unenjoyable tomes is that the author may know what they are getting at, but I’m blowed if I can figure it out. And if I haven’t figured it out by page 203, there is usually scant reason to believe I will have got the plot by the end of the tome.
So, I’ve had a mid-life epiphany, today. Yes, another one.
I am giving myself permission to stop reading books I am not enjoying – for whatever reason.
Jesus, that feels liberating!
Further, I am going to stop finishing books I am not enjoying regardless of whether they are lauded as the second coming, weighed down as they are with critical acclaim and awards too numerous to mention. Although, 10 pages are usually devoted to mentioning the 100 literary awards the thing has won before approaching anything like the start of the book proper.
I know. I know. How can I bear to close a book without knowing how it ends?
Well, I’m going to use the general rule that if I don’t give a rat’s arse how it started and care even less a third of the way through how it might finish, I’m going to close the cover, learn to cope with the pain, and hope to live and love again.
This no longer 17 year old Sixth Former has come to equate ploughing through an unenjoyable read as a little like a bad marriage or relationship, where we’re certain if we give it a little longer – turn just one more page – enlightenment will reign and all misunderstandings will be cleared up as we reach The Happy Place.
Nope, rarely happens.
Besides, haven’t you heard?
Statistics tell me I no longer have that kind of time to waste.
HMS HerMelness Speaks