Turning My Back

It’s taken many years, but I’m now in a place where I can turn my back completely on a book that’s just not doing it for me.

I can hear gasps from fellow readers. “You stop reading a book?” “How can you abandon a book? What if it gets better on the very next page?” “You’re not a real reader.”

Whatever. Look, some of my fellow readers are elitist jerks.

Some books do not get better on the very next page. Some books peter out before they end or reach ridiculous levels of bad. Some books are well written and boring as hell.

And books I walk away from may be some of your favorite books. That’s why you’re not me and I’m not you.

With that messy preamble out of the way, here are some books I’ve decided aren’t worth my time.

Blindness – Jose Saramago: The guy won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. The freakin’ Nobel. Blindness came out in 1995 so it was among the body of work that earned up the Nobel. I made it about 10 pages in and couldn’t stand it. The concept was interesting, but Saramago sucked all the life out of it and I failed to develop any interest in his characters or environment.

Rabbit Redux – John Updike: I fought my way through Rabbit, Run and decided to give the second book in the series a try. I know many people love this series and tout his realistic portrayal of an ordinary man who makes mistakes. Rabbit is an annoying character. And not one of those annoying characters that I still enjoy reading about. I don’t need all my books’characters to be upstanding heroes; I appreciate flaws.

I got that the book was a decent portrayal of 1970ish. It had interesting points to make about race and gender politics and changing attitudes about sex and relationships. I just wasn’t interested in the frame in which those interesting points were being presented.

Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series: See, it’s not just Nobel- and Pulitzer-winning authors I walk away from; I walk away from lighter fiction, too. To be honest, I made it through 3.5 books in this series. I rationalized the reads as light-hearted fun that I didn’t need to think about. They were perfect to read on an airplane or to pass time in an emergency room. Or they were until I realized my brain was slowly rotting from reading about a selfish character in prose that was repetitive and simplistic.  I don’t need a challenge all the time (or I’d have stuck it out with the award winners), but I don’t have time for crap, no matter how I define it.

That’s what my abandonment of books is about. I don’t have time. I have an ever-growing list of unread books that struck my fancy. I have shelves of books I keep because I want to reread them. So why would I continue to invest time in something I know I’m not enjoying and that I won’t enjoy?

Life is far too short to be wasted … on anything.

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5 thoughts on “Turning My Back

  1. You’re totally right, Tammy! I’m so glad I stopped forcing myself to finish books that I wasn’t interested in. It’s true — life’s too short!

    1. Rabbit, Run was a challenge to finish. It seemed all too easy to walk away from that book. I think one of the reasons I kept going was picking out Reading landmarks.

  2. I am so completely with you on this, Tammy. Used to be I would keep reading just because I’d started it and I had been raised knowing the value of books…if it was in print and I started reading it, I had to finish it. As I get older I realize that the tee-shirt is right…”So Many Books, So Little Time.” I can only read so many books. I’m amazed that Goodreads tells me I’ve read 35 so far this year. Only 2 of those I listed did I not finish. There were several others, I only got a page or 2 into and knew it wasn’t for me. Those didn’t get listed. I truly understand. But I love to read and I’ll keep going! Have a great day!

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