So many books, so little time.
If you don’t get any joy out of reading a book, just quit it.
Yes, you read that right! You are allowed to quit books, and you shouldn’t feel bad about it.
I’m not saying you should give up on a book because it seems difficult at first (although some would argue that Raskolnikov’s behavior just makes you abandon “Crime and punishment” after the first pages).
Nor am I saying you should give up on the books that are mandatory for your assignments. You should definitely finish those.
But when you’re 300 pages deep and you still don’t find the plot attractive, you’re trying so hard to continue but you keep flicking to the back of the book over and over again to see how much more you have to endure, when your pile of new books is calling out to you, that’s when you’re allowed to not finish your book.
Reading should be fun and enjoyable. Why continue doing something that does not give you pleasure?
Feeling guilty for not finishing books
For some of us, a finished book is just another thing crossed off our lists.
We are so focused on becoming better readers, so focused on our book reading goals, that the idea of abandoning a book we invested so much time in already and finding a replacement just seems daunting. Instead, we invest even more time into finishing it.
There’s a different way of looking at it. Try this:
You did not waste time on a book, you simply invested enough time to realize that that book was not for you.
You should feel liberated when you end a relationship with a book that was not for you. Life’s not about how many books you finish.
“There are millions of other books, why waste time with one that is only decent? Or heck, even only good. There are so many books out there, you should only make time for great ones!”
Feeling guilty for not liking the same books as everyone else
You don’t need to feel bad if a book didn’t work out for you either.
When we’re reading a novel everyone is raving about, or a biography everyone finds inspiring, it might be hard to admit defeat. Everyone else loves this book, why can’t I seem to like it?
It’s not your fault, and it’s not the author’s fault either.
We don’t talk about peer pressure surrounding books as much as we should. We certainly don’t expect everyone to like the same music genre or the same food. So why do we expect everyone to like the same books?
Relationships with books are just like relationships with other people. Some become important parts of our lives, some will be just lessons we needed to learn.
Feeling guilty about not finishing books you spent money on
So you feel guilty for not finishing all of your books and you also feel guilty about not enjoying every book everyone else raves about.
Now you’re also blaming yourself for wasting time, but also blaming yourself for wasting money! Does the guilt trip ever end?
Let me ask you this: do you feel as guilty about the clothes you didn’t really get to wear? And what do you do with them? You probably donate them, like most of us.
Well, you could donate your unfinished books too. Just because you didn’t like them doesn’t mean anyone else won’t either.
You can even donate the books you did finish and enjoy. Let someone else enjoy them as well.
When you are donating the things that no longer spark joy in your life, do you still look at them as a waste of money?
Donating not only benefits the charities themselves, but it can also be deeply rewarding for you too. Many people donate books (and not only books!) to charity on a regular basis to support education, as well as for the positive effect it has on their own lives.
Finally, not finishing books might be a sign that you’re actually getting smarter. No, really!
“Even if you do not have the time to read them all, overstuffing your bookshelf or e-reader is good for you.” — Jessica Stillman
For people who put in the time to learn how to learn, not finishing every book might actually be a sign of intelligence.
Many successful entrepreneurs only read 20 to 40 percent of the books they purchase. Some even read over 10 books at once!
Still, that does not mean they don’t read a lot.
“I maybe start half the books I get, and I probably finish a third of the books I start. And that works out to finishing 1–2 books per week.” — Patrick Collison
Research on the reading habits of business leaders points out that our new times call for new ways of searching for, filtering, consuming, and applying knowledge in order to improve our lives.
So the next time you feel guilty about not finishing books, think about your goals. Is letting go of a book affecting your goals? Or is it an opportunity to grow?
So, what do you guys think? Do you feel guilty about not finishing all of your books? What are some of the books you just couldn’t get through? Let us know in the comments below.