I used to finish every single book that I read. Every single one. I turned it from an art from into an extreme form of self-torture. It was as if the books that I was reading needed to be finished for the simple fact that I had been into a shop, selected them from a shelf, and parted with money to be allowed to bring them home. Often, quite a lot of money, really.
But what kind of reader am I, if the main reason that I will finish a book is because I paid for it? I mean, sure, I paid for it… but, possibly (and I’m still not sure this is entirely likely) I made a bad decision. I may have selected a book that a) isn’t terribly good, or b) – the more likely, I guess – just isn’t written in the style I like to read.
Luckily for me, I was gifted with an e-reader, and my entire reading world changed. The biggest change is – and, please, no one tell my husband this – I have a lot more books now. He watched quite happily as stacks of books left my bookshelves destined for charity shops so that I could share the book love, and was disappointed when very many shelves remained full… but he would have been even more disappointed and shocked if he could have seen just how many books were invisibly whizzing their way straight into my hot little hands. E-readers are the ultimate way to sneak books into my house. Let me say that again, in case you missed it – as I believe that it could apply to all of us.
E-readers are the ultimate way to sneak books into a house.
Somewhere, in my delicious fit of sheer book gluttony, I also learnt what it is to be a book tart. These days, I don’t place ultimate worth on a book based on the fact that I paid for it. Where my book shelves have groaned (and still do, if you ask my husband) under the weight of books I have read, my e-reader is stuffed to its gills with books that I have yet to read. I have an entire personal library of books I haven’t read, and I still keep buying more. I’m possibly a little compulsive in that regard. I must have pretty things. Pretty things and lots of words.
Because I have more books than I dare to admit to now, and an assumed finite time left on the earth, paying for a book isn’t reason, alone, for reading it to the bitter end. These days, if the book doesn’t make me happy, or something else feels lacking, or even if I’m just not in the mood for it that day I move on. And I’ve even managed to stop feeling guilty about that. Life is too short to feel guilty over not finishing a book – it was never a reasonable thing to consider as an achievement, anyway (but what a humorous epitaph it could have made “She always finished her book’). To be honest life is too short to not enjoy the book you’re reading. So if you are currently reading one that isn’t working for you, put it to one side, move on… pick up another. Keep picking them up until you find one that you want to read, that you want to go back to bed and neglect your children to finish. Read a book because it calls to you.
Don’t feel guilty for not finishing a book. Go on, choose another. I said you could.