As a reader, I’ve found that my reading habits ebb and flow. Some weeks I’ll knock out two or even three novels, while other time it’ll take four, even five, weeks to turn the final page of a book. In that case, you can be certain that I’m just not feeling the book. (Either that, or I’ve been sucked into a TV series on Netflix.) I’m a before-bed reader, but I’m also a baby about getting at least seven hours of sleep each night. A book’s worth to me can be judged on the amount of sleep I’m willing to give up in order to read it. If I’m turning out my light after 10 minutes in order to get a full nine hours… it’s probably not going to make my Top Ten. If I’m telling myself, “Just five more minutes,” or, “Just until the end of this chapter,” and settling for a less plentiful night’s rest? Well, that says a lot.
My whole life, I’ve always finished every book I pick up. No matter how abysmal the writing, how boring mundane the character, or how foreseeable the plotline, I powered through. Recently, though, a T-shirt my mom owns has been weighing heavily on my mind. Well, okay, not the t-shirt itself, but rather the quotation emblazoned upon it. The shirt reads:
Too many books, too little time.
And this, my friends, is the truth. There are times when I honestly find myself stressed out over the knowledge that I will never be able to read all the books I want to read. And balancing my “wants” with the books for my 2+ book club meetings each month, the classics I avoided in school, and the professional reading I’ve never gotten around to… my goodness! The clear solution is to quit my job and read all day instead. At least that would eliminate one category of required reading!
So, I’ve developed a new policy. If a book just isn’t doing it for me, and three hundred others are calling my name, I’m no longer going to force myself through every page. I’m reciting my new T-shirt mantra, and avoiding thinking about Vince Lombardi’s words: “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”
I began this policy in August with that month’s book club read: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I know, I know. Everyone else in my book club LOVED it. And I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from every other person I’ve encountered whose familiar with the novel. But I just didn’t get into it! Who knows? Maybe I’ll pick it up again sometime in the future… but maybe not.
Another book I’ve abandoned multiple times in my life is The Hobbit. I’ve never been a huge fan of fantasy novels, but felt like I should power through this well-known classic. But the book had the same effect the LOTR movies had on me. Every time I cracked it open, I fell straight to sleep. I gave it a fair chance. Honestly, I did. I’ve read that first chapter about Bilbo’s dinner party at least five times. Heck, I practically have it memorized. But past that? I just couldn’t do it. Will I pick this one up again sometime in the future? It’s possible… but probably not. We’ll see.
Just this month I abandoned Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley. I feel especially guilty about throwing this one to the wolves (well, returning it to the library) because it’s this month’s book club read. I feel as though when I’ve made a commitment to a group, I need to follow through on my end. (I know, I just confessed to slacking on August’s read, as well. Bad book club member.) But after 2.5 weeks and 150 pages, I just plain couldn’t take it any more. Again, my mom owns a copy, so I might pick it up again sometime in the future. But, maybe not. We’ll see.
I’ve currently reading two fabulous books that I can guarantee I will not be abandoning. They are: A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers and Four to Score by Janet Evanovich. (And, yes, I am SUPER-excited to see One for the Money which comes out THIS WEEKEND!) I also just finished reading (rather, listening to) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle after reading this post on one of my favorite book blogs, Forever Young Adult. (BTW, they also just happened to post a book report for A Wrinkle in Time this week!)
So, to sum up, I’m gonna read what I wanna read. I’m still going to push my boundaries, try new genres, and at least give a fighting chance to each of my book club books. But, I’m going to keep in mind that reading is an escape for me, and there’s no reason to escape into a world more painful than reality. (Okay, that sounded really emo. I’m not one of those “the world hates me” kind of people, I was just trying to make a point.)
Remember, you can always keep up with my 2012 reading on by book log!