What is it that makes us abandon a literary world: Is it poor characterization, a slow plot, or our own sheer boredom? Recently GoodReads put together a fantastic, viral infographic on "What Makes You Put a Book Down". Until recently, my answer to the Q would have been "nothing".
My stubborn nature combined with my desire to be well-read meant that once I began a book I was in it for the long haul, whether it was a classic, contemporary bestseller, or anything in-between. In 8th grade I powered through Dotovsky's Crime and Punishment for hundreds of pages after I actually understood what Raskolnikov was doing with his life, not to mention how to pronounce his name. Even after realizing on the second Hunger Game book I barely read young adult literature even when I was a young adult, I finished the series. There are numerous other books that send me ranting, whether it's about the characters or writing style or something else all together, and yet I've finished them.
After finally turning to the last page of Les Miserables with the help of two transatlantic flights, my moment of triumph quickly turned to stress as I looked at my "To Read" queue: It had grown so much in the months I'd stayed buried in Les Mis. I briefly considered abandoning work, school, and all social relations in favor of hiding in a cave and finally getting caught up on the backlog of books I had yet to finish or even begin.
Absurd thoughts having hit an all-time high, I finally realized: My beloved hobby had suddenly morphed into a to-do list that sent me running for the woods...and the Xanax. Outside of work or school related reads, no one was telling me I had to read all of these books. No one was giving me a deadline. No one would care if I quit a novel 125 pages in to take on a more intriguing read. The rest of the world will not kick me out of some secret literary club if I slip The Art of Racing in the Rain back onto the shelf before reaching the back cover. Turns out I really have no desire to be inside an animal's head.
Since then I have finished about 90 percent of the books I have started. Some of the incomplete ones are still on my bookshelf, waiting in case I suddenly feel a desire to pull them out and power through. Some I've given away, knowing I will never feel a need to open their pages again. It's a weight off.
My reading time once again became relaxing, fun, and all about me — just the way I like it. I still dig into books that will add to my cultural repertoire, but it's entirely my say if I finish a read or let it sit by. If it's causing just too many eye rolls or winces or yawns, I'm done, crossing it off my list, and moving on to the next.
Life is too short to read a bad book.