Quitting a book for now….

I spent some time this weekend reading Cold Mountain. I have been mostly enjoying the early part, particularly the description of the rural land around the mountains, and the languid pace of development. However, after confirming the plot on Wikipedia (yes, I do this for books that are more “classics”), I realize I am just not going to be in the headspace to finish it right now. Possibly in the future. But not right now.

So…onto the next read perhaps. I’ve been re-reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, though that’s on paper and I need something on my Kindle app to read in those little chunks of time, or when I’m sitting in the dark (putting the toddler to bed). I’d also like to find a novel since I prefer to have a mix going.

I never feel good about abandoning a book, or even putting aside a book for a while, especially when I know it’s a very good book. I just also know that if I’m not feeling like I want to read a book — and certain themes can do that to me — then I won’t be particularly motivated to pick it up. And if I’m not motivated to pick it up, I won’t make progress, and time has an opportunity cost. I could be using that time to read through something else that I’m in a better head space for.

If I live for 50 more years and read 50 books a year, that’s 2500 books. That is a small enough number as it is. I wouldn’t want that number to be even smaller because I tried to soldier through a book that I wasn’t feeling motivated to read.

Have you abandoned, or at least put aside, any books recently?

In other reading news: I’m currently reading Richard II (no, not Richard III – I already read that one) in my Shakespeare reading project. It’s not really one of Shakespeare’s most memorable, but I did find myself nodding in recognition to those lines I read this morning about “This happy breed of men, this little world, this precious stone set in the silver sea…” which culminates in Gaunt’s tribute to “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.” I remember this well from some airline commercial decades ago. I don’t remember which airline, but it did make me want to fly to London!

Photo: We are always choosing how to spend our time. As the bracelet says, “Choose well.”

18 thoughts on “Quitting a book for now….

  1. I normally finish things but DNF’d loads of things lately. They weren’t the right book at the right time for me, and I’m 37, read about 80 books a year, reading space is valuable.
    My two favourites from last year were No One is Talking About This and Detransition, Baby. Highlights from this year’s reading include The Lonely Castle in the Mirror, Love Marriage (which felt a bit predictable but I felt deeply for all the characters), and Matrix. I do feel a bit distracted and like I’m struggling to settle into anything.

    1. I also enjoyed Matrix! I can also recommend The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. Since it’s a collection of short stories you can read them all through quickly or choose just a few that capture your interest.

  2. Love your “choose well” bracelet. I just picked up Rules of Civility after hearing about it in One great Book podcast by Anne Bogel. It’s by Amor Towles. I loved his “A gentleman in Moscow”.

  3. I have several books on my nightstand that I might not finish.
    It’s odd because I tend to choose relatively carefully before I order them from the library but I’ve read quite a bit in 2022 (well, a lot for me; 34 books so far…I know of someone who is up to 70 already) and feel like at this point I a) need a little break from reading and b) if I’m going to read, want it to be very compelling.

    I always feel guilty or worry if I just give the book a bit longer I’d love it/therefore am missing some great wisdom or plot. But I have to sit with the discomfort because life is too short to read bad books – or even to read good books I don’t feel like reading.

  4. Anne Bogel really empowered me to DNF books. Prior to reading her blog/listening to her podcast where she often talks about DNF’ing books, I would soldier through books and finish them. Now I value my time and recognize that there are too many books out there to push myself to read something that isn’t working for me. I will almost always force myself to finish a book club book so I can discuss it. I think I’ve only given up once. The only book I’ve DNF’d this year is “Wintering.” It’s a non-fiction book that is quite popular but it rubbed me the wrong way so I gave up on it!

  5. I too am one of those people who likes to complete things, books in particular. I used to really drag myself to finish whatever I’d started reading. But then I realized that if my intention for time invested in reading is to be pleasurable, but was instead feeling like a chore, I should have no guilt abandoning a book if it doesn’t catch. I even created a bookshelf on my Goodreads app called “Life’s too short” to remind me that putting down one book would enable me to pick up another! Two of my favourite recent reads are “Maybe you should talk to someone” by Lori Gottlieb and “The Push” by Ashley Audrain.

  6. I put aside “The Turnout” at the beginning of Part II meaning to come back to it at some point. Actually, I have not decided for sure if I want to finish it. However, since it is an audiobook I may fit it into my rotation for reading during my walks at some point.

    I guess as a confession, I have it recorded that I was at page 105 of “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think” on August 16, 2018. I think I would want to start over if I want to finish your book. Possibly reading it as an audiobook would help me get through it. I am not sure. I don’t have a lot of time for reading paper books other than the ones I read for a Bible study group at church. I do own the paperback of “168 Hours” so I could definitely reference it whether use audio or read the paperback.

    1. @Barbara – totally OK if you haven’t finished 168 Hours! Maybe sometime it will be the right time for it?

  7. I just abandoned Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell after getting through about a third of it. I just wasn’t interested enough in the story to make myself continue. I don’t feel guilty about abandoning books anymore–there are just so many ones that resonate with me that I don’t have to labor through.

  8. I never feel guilty about abandoning books- I have abandoned books at 60% finished state too. I only track ( very loosely) time spent reading, so even from a tracking perspective it doesnt bother me. I re-read books a lot too- esp the ones I love! So I can confidently say all time spent reading is pleasurable

  9. I have no shame about abandoning books. I probably abandon more than I finish, but I still finish quite a few, and my Goodreads list is full of 5-star reviews because I so rarely hate a book I finish.
    I stopped the year-long War and Peace endeavor last May for the same reason as you stopped Cold Mountain – I just was not in the right head space. I felt guilty – I had already put so much time into it – but I expect I’ll pick it up eventually. My long project this year: the Stephen Sondheim memoirs!

    1. @Elisa – May was a long time to get through – you made it through the Free Masonry stuff by that point!

  10. If I didn’t put books down on occasion, I don’t think that I would read as many books. Some nights, beautiful literary fiction is just not the thing I need! Different books are for different seasons, and getting stuck thinking I ‘should’ finish something before starting something else sometimes means that I scroll Instagram or watch TV when I would really rather be reading, but I need to be reading the right thing for that moment.

  11. I have abandoned reading a few books. The one that sticks out in my mind the most is T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King.” It was over a thousand pages and as a teeneager, I got through 200 or so, but then decided to put it down. In college, I took a class on Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” and read it in about 2.5 months–I bet you can guess what I did on my Friday and Saturday nights! If you like Russian prose, you might read Pushkin’s complete works in English. Most of his writings were short stories or poetry, and easy enough to get through in small bites of time. Not to mention, the English translations are easy enough to find online for free.

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