Stumbled across this in a Q&A section of the Wall Street Journal and it resonated with me deeply. The original question was from a man who was struggling with “book guilt” - a syndrome that happens when you feel bad for not finishing a book that you’ve started.
I only recently was able to get over this - and it was from a realization that there are just too many great books out there for me to be reading mediocre (or bad) ones.
Some excerpts from the piece:
- “Book guilt can be a grievous affliction, especially if the book you’re (I’m) not finishing has been widely praised or is considered a classic. For years I frog marched myself to the last page of every book I started, berating myself if I was bored or exasperated. Then I changed my policy: I would allow myself to stop reading if I’d given the book a fair shot, but I also had to make the effort to put into words what I didn’t like about it.”
- “Nancy Pearl, who writes the excellent “Book Lust” series, recommends that people 50 years old or younger give a book about 50 pages before deciding to give it up.”
- “Some readers I know stave off their guilty consciences by blaming the writer: The prose is so deplorable or the characters or plots so preposterous that it’s simply good judgment to stop reading. And sure, sometimes a book is bad. More likely, though, the book is a misfit, at least for this time and place in the reader’s life. Neither reader nor writer has failed; the two are simply mismatched.”
- “In her reading memoir, ‘So Many Books, So Little Time,’ Sara Nelson calls deciding to allow yourself to stop reading a book ‘a rite of passage in a reader’s life.’ It is, she says, ‘the moment at which you can look at yourself and announce: Today I am an adult. I can make my own decisions.’”
What do you think? Do you struggle with this “affliction”? Let me know!