Abandoning Books: 4 Signs It is Time to Let Go

Originally published August 2015

Believe it—even book lovers can find books they don’t like very much.

There are a bunch of reasons it’s a good idea to stick with a book—maybe a friend suggested it, or it’s by one of your favorite authors. But occasionally, you’ll come across one that just isn’t grabbing you. And you’re feeling guilty.

Let it go. Here’s why:

It’s stressing you out. Unless it’s required reading for school or the office, if it’s not enjoyable, then why are you doing it? If the thought passing through your cranium is “I have to finish the book” and not “HOLY COW I HAVE TO FINISH THE BOOK WHERE DID I PUT IT DOWN OMG I HAVE TO KNOW HOW IT ENDS!!!” and the only thing pressing you to pick it up is the overdue fine hanging over your head or the dirty looks you’ll get at book club, it’s time to move on.

After taking about three weeks to get halfway through Daniel Handler’s “We Are Pirates” I finally called it a day. The only thing compelling me to keep going was knowing I would blog a review about it. But it got to the point where I realized, I just wasn’t invested. I couldn’t care less about what happened to Phil Needle or his daughter Gwen. The setting was off. I wasn’t engaged. My time and spending it with something I really want to read was more valuable than the George Washington I owe the library for it.

Libraries let you take books for test drives. Sometimes, a book that isn’t right—right now—may grab your attention later. I’ve tried Michael Chabon’s “Telegraph Avenue” twice now, and am grateful I’ve never actually paid for it. No one is keeping score on whether it takes you one go-round or 12 to finish a book. And even if you do rack up a fine, it’s still probably less than buying a book outright. It’s also a great way to try out authors you’re wary of, or a genre that you’ve never explored.

Dissenting opinion is the stuff that makes arts and culture great. Some people are Team Lannister, wile others are Team Stark. The same principle applies to books. There are people who will go to the mattresses for Nicholas Sparks, while another legion of fans think Jodi Picoult is the be-all, end-all. Regardless, book lovers of all colors often come together over a shared love for the written word. And sometimes, being THAT person at book club that is ballsy enough to call something “utter tripe” can be exhilarating.

For most of us, reading isn’t a profession. It’s a passion. You aren’t getting paid to do this. It is supposed to be for fun. If trying to read is bumming you out instead of lifting you up, it’s time to change your literary scenery.

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