Finish That Book?

I have read hundreds of books in my life–probably thousands. Reading is my life. I read books, magazines, labels, newspapers, and the internet. I read books to children. I can’t even imagine my life without reading. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is Thomas Jefferson’s “I cannot live without books.”

The signature of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd Preside...

Thomas Jefferson's Signature/Image via Wikipedia

Having said that, for most of my life I have indeed finished most every book I’ve ever started to read. I have not, however, completed all of them.

I remember clearly the first book I didn’t finish, Roughing It by Mark Twain. Don’t get me wrong–I like Mark Twain. This, however, is not one of his finest. I faced off with this book when I was in a freshman composition class and this was one of the books we were required to read. I can remember clearly the dressing down we had to take from our professor because apparently none of us read the book. She told us she had never had such an experience with a class before. Weren’t we ashamed?

Well, no. I went by her office and told her that she had assigned us the most mind-numbingly boring book known to man. As I recall, she admitted that perhaps he had better works to choose from.

Anyway, for many years I never contemplated not finishing a book again. Then, I was blessed to have a professor who would become my mentor. She informed me that I could give myself permission to not finish a book. What? Really? I could just wave the magic wand of permission and save myself from literary hell?

Oh, I love you! But where were you when I was struggling through my self-inflicted summer reading torture of reading classics which included Moby Dick? 864 pages! And guess what? Seriously, you only need to read the last three chapters which is about fifty pages. Really? I wasted all summer on this?!

Thankfully I received the permission to quit reading slip before I encountered Crime and Punishment. Ditto for Les Miserables. (Translation–The Miserables) Who wants to commit a part of their life to that?  Not me! I’m not on board for the miserable stuff.

Clay’s Quilt is another book I just couldn’t finish. I tried. Really I did. It even still resides in my nightstand drawer, but I’m sure I’ll never finish it.

Thanks to my mentor, I can give myself permission to not finish a book, even if it is a rare occasion. Having said that, I finish 99% of the books I start reading.

Thanks to BrainRants similar post here, I could write this blog. Auto Topics can be good.

4 thoughts on “Finish That Book?

  1. Right there with you! And I bet I can guess who that mentor was!

    It is so freeing to realize that it is not a life requirement to finish every book you start. There haven’t been many for me, but Return of the Native, Heart of Darkness, and various Jane Austen novels are on my list. I did, however, make it through Les Miserables. Once. A looong time ago.The musical is better!

  2. I have “the 100 page rule” which states if the book has not grabbed my attention within the first 100 pages, then it’s not worth my time to try and finish it. Life is too short – and there are way too many books – to waste your time and energy on a book that is mind numbingly boring!

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