Giving up on a Book

I have never allowed myself to quit a book. I was lucky enough to never come across a book I genuinely disliked since my school days – see that I’ve used the word “genuinely” because I do enjoy criticising some titles when, deep inside, I actually like them in a way or another. Reading has always been a pleasure… until now.

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Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath

Around six year ago, I’ve bought a famous piece by a famous author which tends to be liked by people with whom I share general interests with. I was ashamed to admit that I had never read it before, and finally decided it was time to do so. It’s under 200 pages, so it’s not at all intimidating, and in all honestly, I was actually looking forward to put it on my “read” list. I did not expect to loathe this book as much as I did.

I like slow paced books where the action is within the words, I love to read about people aimlessly walking in the country, and I enjoy being able to live the story – which has little or no actual plot – through a character’s mind, but this particular book seemed to be tailored to torture me. I’m in the middle of nowhere and completely alone, which is not something that bothers me as long as I have something going on. This “something” was a book about people doing nothing, holding no opinions, no personality, and the writer seemed to hate the characters as much as I did; I could picture them writing it while resting their head on their free hand and sighting loudly. I tried so hard to get into it, but I had to force myself to pick that book up day after day as I could go through twenty pages without getting distracted. It got to a point where I asked myself if it was really worth it.

I could invest my time in a better book. There are so many good books I haven’t read, and I know I won’t be able to read them all before I die, so wasting my time in something that makes me so frustrated seems pointless. At the same time, this is an authot that comes up in conversations. I feared that if I didn’t finish this piece, my opinions on the topic would be less valid. I pushed myself harder, but it got to the point that I wasn’t even paying attention to the words anymore.

After asking my father, a friend, and even a stranger (who was very helpful), I finally came to the conclusion that there’s nothing wrong about leaving it for now as long as I give it another chance in the future. Maybe the time’s not right, or maybe I’ll try again and hate it just as much, who knows! But for now, I rather move on to the next book on my list and invest my time into something I enjoy. And in regards to my opinion: It is valid. I can honestly say that I tried and explain what has caused me to give up. Quitting doesn’t make me stupid or uniformed; I have enough arguments to prove my point. Maybe it will change once I try again, but for now what I have is enough.

Have you ever gave up on a book or are you the sort of person who must finish it? And if you have, did you give it another chance?

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3 thoughts on “Giving up on a Book

  1. Lesson learned: Never judge a book by its reputation. Sure, go ahead and judge the cover. But, ignore the blurbs by other people and its fame.

    Sometimes, we encounter an author whose work doesn’t register with us while it gets rave reviews from others who may just be hired fans. We might be drawn to that author for some reason while repulsed for another. I’ve never been a Shakespeare fan because I rarely ran read a piece by him that doesn’t give me a headache. I understood Merchant of Venice, but that was sooooo boring.

    I recall a few books, forced upon my in my school years, that I disliked, mainly because I didn’t understand them or their value. At least one was a shockingly adult choice for teens to read. A particular scene featured a woman naked in front of her vanity mirror with her legs in the air as she examined her private parts. And, this was recommended to teenage boys in a Catholic high school? By priests and nuns? Another book featured the most annoyingly boring scene I’ve ever read, fourteen pages dedicated to a boy going downstairs to get a glass of water. I strained my brain, trying to see some valuable metaphor in the whole thing. I had nothing. It was fourteen pages of nonsense. The rest of the story wasn’t terrible. But, it made me fear for my man parts.

    As you like books that go slowly through the countryside, I like animated movies that do that. But, books that relaxed might annoy me. It’s different when I see characters just relaxing under a starry sky or on the beach, and the artwork is of such exceptional quality that you can imagine yourself in the picture.

    I am not an avid reader. As you seek to read so many books before you die, I seek to WRITE all the books I dream up before I die. [Why would I prefer to spend my time trying to digest the works of others? That’s not living. That’s reliving the lives of others.] I recently gave reading another try and have encountered both books I can tolerate and some that rub be the wrong way, mainly because of language I don’t like. I read a few pages of two books and quit when I had had enough of certain phrases. I almost gave up on a mystery series because the detective obsessively drinks white wine. It would appear every thirty pages or so. It really got on my nerves.

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    1. I love to read because it takes me to another time, maybe another world, it teaches me new things, expands my vocabulary, not to mention that it’s a great way to get away when I want to escape my own reality. I’m actually finding it hard to explain because I never actually thought about the reason why I love to read; I just do! But I understand what you mean, if you have your own ideas to be shared, surely it’s a bigger pleasure to see your name amongst others and your efforts being appreciated.
      I hardly ever came across a book I disliked so much, and I really did want to like this one! I was also given books at school which were presented to me in the wrong context and maybe a few years too early, but I finally understood them when I decided to give them another chance (apart from a terrible story about a dry land, and the dry people who lived in it, perpetually dehydrated and unable to talk or think).
      What I meant about liking slow books is that I don’t mind if there’s little action in the story as long as the author is able to make it interesting with his words. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that this particular author is bad, I just think it’s not something that appeals to me right now.
      Thank you for your comment!

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      1. True, reading does help with expanding one’s vocabulary, if you comprehend everything you read. If not, it’s like trying to fit a screw through your skull with your fingers.

        I personally don’t always transport to those other worlds or times so well. If the author is truly skilled, perhaps. If not, I get mired in murky pits of boring tar…er, exposition.

        But, is getting away from reality living or putting your soul to sleep? At least, if we ventured into the nearest forest or to the local beach, we might encounter real treasures or adventures, meet real people who could just as well expand our vocabularies, etc.

        I felt guilty for saying reading is not living. I am no better turning my dreams and obsessive fantasies into stories/books.

        I think some people are just wired to read. Bookworms, in the truest of terms. It may be coded in your astro DNA, the need to consume the written word. Perhaps, at some point in literate human evolution, a gene developed which gains strength/energy from reading. The opposing gene in the branch that went the other way, perhaps, prefers action.

        I am neither a jock nor a bookworm, somewhere in the middle. A blend of intellectual/philosophical and the burning desire to see things with my own eyes and, perhaps, touch them with my hands (though I’ve learned much about the importance of not touching things, as well).

        It is strangely funny to hear you struggle to explain your feelings when you say the books expand your mind. 🙂

        I think my skin would crack if I read a “dry” book like the one you read.

        I cannot imagine gazing at words and seeing the same visuals as I would get, say, from a movie like Wall-E. Now, there is a computer animated film that encapsulates the simple serenity of deep space (as I imagine it). There are moments in the film I just want to stop the story and enjoy the white noise. If I read about this big ship full of fat people floating through space, I doubt I’d hear the same white noise or see the stars the same way, unless I had a personal experience to recall. And, even then, there is some disconnection between my brain, my eyes reading the page and my spirit.

        You may notice my skill with words despite my lack of reading. I cannot explain that, either, except to presume it’s coded in my astro DNA. And, yet, even with my skill, there are others with such vast vocabularies; they blow my mind beyond comprehension. I am dwarfed by their lexicons.

        Well, if you read another work by this same author and find the same negative feeling, it might be greater proof that you two were not meant to get along. 🙂

        And, thank you for your eloquent response. 🙂

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