Thursday, March 12, 2009

Crossing the "Finish" Line

Do you feel guilty if you don’t finish reading a book?

For the most part I do. Maybe it’s just the author in me, but I feel like I owe to it a fellow writer to read the whole story. Maybe the good (or better) part is just around the corner? Then again, I’ve stuck with some and never felt the satisfaction I’d hoped to find. (No, I can’t think of any examples.)

However, a librarian friend of mine (whose blog "for a change" is listed in the sidebar) told me how silly it is to continue reading a book that is not being enjoyed. Too many other books to read, she said. Why waste time? I can see this argument, certainly.

So I’m sometimes in a mild “moral” dilemma. Do I owe it to other writers to complete their tale? Or can I put it down without regret? And if I do put it down, how do I know that it won’t “pick up” just on the next page?

I can only think of one book that I gladly put down with no intention of returning to it. No offense to the author. I rather liked some of the book. It’s just that he didn’t provide enough of that storyline for me. It’s a pretty common premise: boy apprentice to a wizard. However, this boy, to the wizard’s amazement and incredulity, employs a different form/procedure of magic than is known to the wizard. Meanwhile, a large ship is found and on board is a sword of unknown metal and craftsmanship. It seems invaders are coming from another dimension. This type of novel is normally right up my alley. However, the other half of it related the shenanigans of the princess and the men who loved her and the rest of the palace court. I did not so much like them. Any of them. I suffered through their scenes, wishing and longing for the boy to return soon. Eventually, he burst away in a puff of color. Yes, you read that right. “Oh great,” thought I with rolling eyes. The next bit…yep, the princess. I skimmed ahead to see when I’d get to hear about the kid again. I skimmed further…further…but no, he didn’t show up for the rest of the book! I then realized it to be a series. From the tiny summaries I learned he would not return until one or two books ahead. I still had a good third of the novel left to read. All featuring the characters I did not care a whit about and had become a chore to read. So, I simply said “No.” And I’ve never regretted it.

How about you? Do you feel you “have to” finish a book?


Daisy Porter said...

Nope! (hee)

Mel said...

I usually do feel that "pressure," but in my old age, I've become more and more willing to set a book down if it's just not working for me. Of course, there have been the rare exceptions of books that I struggled to get into only to reach a point where I could not put it down, but I'm not sure I have the patience for that anymore.

Danielle Mari said...

I'm with Mel, though I've been old since I was twelve. I feel extremely guilty when I just cannot bear to finish a book- but that guilt has not yet proven enough of a motivator to actually make me read it. And the books that fall under this category embarrass me. Anything by Tolkien.... I've tried and tried and just can't.

WOTD: hetmedsm