Philosphy

To read or not to read? Do you finish books you don’t like?

On average, I don’t finish books I don’t like. My motto is “life is too short to read books you don’t like.”

Or watch movies you don’t like.

Or eat food you don’t like.

You get the picture.

There are of course, exceptions to this mantra and I don’t follow it in everything I do. For example I often read books I wouldn’t exactly say I “like” but I nevertheless appreciate. Or I’ll finish a book because I’m not reading it for enjoyment, but to gain a new skill or piece of knowledge.

I think this motto is most helpful when you’re reading something that’s supposed to be entertaining (or at least that’s why you’re reading it), but it just isn’t. A lot of time people will finish something because they started it. I always feel this pressure to finish things I start. Despite all evidence to the contrary (I’m incredibly good at starting something and leaving it unfinished) it really does bother me to leave things unfinished.

That’s why I need to have this motto. I’d be spending hours reading a book that neither mentally challenged me, nor helped me grow or gain a new skill, nor entertained me. The only reason I’d keep reading it was because I started it and had this absurd guilt over not finishing it. I had to ask myself why I would force myself to finish something I didn’t enjoy or see any value in?

There was also a small part of me that always wonders if the ending will make up for the lackluster middle, it’s bad now, but perhaps it will get better? That sort of thing.

At the end of the day though I think if you can’t get into a book, no sense in trying to force yourself to finish it if you don’t have a specific reason for doing so.

What about you? Do you always finish the books you start? If so why?

10 thoughts on “To read or not to read? Do you finish books you don’t like?

  1. I am totally with you. In the last couple of years has become more easy for me to just drop a book that I am not enjoying (this does not apply to books I am reading because I need to for whatever practical reasons, but lately I am just reading for the joy of it), but it was really hard to not finish something because, just like you, there was some guilt to let things unfinished and then what if things get better? But then I have learned that even if the ending of a book is really good, the ending alone (for example) is not enough to compensate for hours after hours of boring pages, and so yes, life is too short to spend it reading “bad” books!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a very similar motto! I used to push through and finish everything but a few years back decided to be more discerning with my time and I don’t regret that. Sometimes if I’ve read the majority of a book I feel like I need to finish it so I haven’t “wasted” that time but I’ve even abandoned books very close to the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What’s your percentage point that you feel you need to finish a book?

      I usually feel like if I’ve made it 80% of the way I will be more likely to just finish it, but if I’m only 50% of the way through I’ll be more likely to drop it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lately I’ve been trying to make that call earlier, maybe around 30% in. If I reach that point and I’m really not enjoying myself I will stop. If I’m on the fence, I’ll try and push on. But I once quit a 600 page book with only 50 pages to go because it made me so mad!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. I was reading it for a class which is why I pushed through so far. I honestly don’t remember what finally caused me to abandon it but I guess I figured I had read enough to make it through the course!

        Like

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