In Writing

About a year ago, I started reading a book that had been personally recommended to me. I *sort of* knew the author and there was much to suggest I’d love the book.

But, oh, I didn’t. I didn’t just not like it. I actively disliked it for this one thing that was especially grating to me. I felt awful about that, because the author was just the sweetest person. And I forced myself to finish it.

I come from the old school of “every book has something to teach you, so power through to the end.” For most of my life, I could not bear to put down a book, no matter how much I wanted to throw it across the room. Sometimes I’ve been pleasantly surprised. For example, books haven’t always started at a breakneck speed, the way authors today are encouraged to start them. Sometimes (particularly older) books take a while to simmer and get going. One of my favorite books – Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven – meanders for about 70 pages with backstory and character introduction before anything really interesting happens. Then it gets absolutely awesome.

But then there have been plenty of books I’ve committed to which have not made up for boring starts. Sometimes when a book is boring (or annoying, or just not your cup of tea) it stays that way. What is the reader’s responsibility? Do we try to find something in each book or do we count our time as precious and put it down?

I now firmly come down in the camp of “put it down, life’s too short,” but I was curious to see what other writers would say on the subject. After all, we’re the ones producing all those books. Would that make us more likely to cut them some slack? Turns out… nope. I asked in a post in a Facebook group for YA authors, “Do you keep reading or put the book down?” While there was a range of opinions, from “I feel bad about not finishing a book,” to “my reading time is way too limited… I put it down,” the general consensus seemed to be that there are SO many books we all want to read we can’t just spend our finite time reading books that aren’t for us.

So, whether you’re a “finish no matter what” type or a “life’s too short” type, just know that there are very smart book-lovers who agree with you. There is no right answer, just the answer that’s right for you.

S0 where do you stand on this issue? Do you read through no matter what, school-style? Or do you give up at the first sign of “meh”?

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