on putting books down

to be read stack

{some of my to be read stack}

I put a book down yesterday and have no intention of picking it back up.

This bothers me probably more than it should.

I used to NEVER not finish books.  I would plow through them devotedly and methodically, like I personally owed it to the author to finish their book, which resulted in my reading a couple books that I hated and several that I felt pretty ambivalent about.

But in recent years I’ve learned to put down books that I’m just not enjoying.  I’ve learned that I can put a book down without feeling like I’m quitting.  I’ve learned that it’s not necessarily my fault that I don’t like the book.  Different books are for different people; different writing styles are for different people; different plot concepts are for different people.

A couple of years ago I started The Book Thief.  I know it is hugely popular and supposed to be amazing, but I gave it 100 pages and I just couldn’t do it.

A couple of months ago I put down Tenth of December.  George Saunders may be a genius, but I read the first story and realized the book was going to be way too dark and twisted for me.  (I’m still hanging on to my copy though because I do feel a literary obligation to at least read The Semplica Girl Diaries.)

Yesterday I put down A Window Opens.  So many people have loved the book and I loved the concept, but how it was done just wasn’t for me.

Here’s the thing: these people published a book!  These people are doing amazing things!

But that doesn’t mean I owe it to the literary world to love everything simply because someone in the publishing world thought it was amazing enough to print and bind and pay for and put on a bookshelf.  It doesn’t even mean I owe it to the literary world to finish everything so that I can have well educated thoughts about books other people rave about.

Sometimes you just know when something is right or wrong for you, and I think I’ve finally learned to be okay with that.

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