When it comes to books, we all have our own favourites, and not just in terms of genre or author. We all know exactly how we like them, whether we like to read them on a Kindle, whether we can read with others in the room or we’d prefer to snuggle ourselves away in a secret place. But what about when it comes to getting through a book? Are you a trooper, reading a book to the end as if it’s a sort of heavenly task, or are you happy to give them up as soon as you realise they’re not for you?
I always used to be the former. It wasn’t a financial factor, because I’d often borrow them from the library, but instead, it was more about the fact I’d invested time in picking something I thought I’d like, and wanting to follow it through until the end. After a while – perhaps solidified most effectively by reading books off a reading list I was adamant I’d never write an essay on or even participate in fruitful discussion because I just detested them so much – I decided I was being disgustingly stubborn. There was no reason – no challenge set by God – that I had to traipse through books I wasn’t enjoying. Put simply, life is too short.
My Mum always said she felt like she had to finish a book, but she recently changed her mind too. Why should she taint an activity she uses to ease herself into the day or wind down from her hectic job with such feelings of obligation? Neither of us attend a book club. And as blunt as it is, some literature is just bad, some just doesn’t tickle our fancy, and there is absolutely no accounting for taste.
I recently started to read ‘Even the Dogs’ by Jon McGregor, and I just couldn’t get into it. I persevered for a while – I was at my boyfriend’s house with a spare hour and had no access to my array of books waiting to be read at home, just the one I’d selected to come with me – but after a while, though I could appreciate the writing style was clever and quirky, I gave up and decided it wasn’t for me. Jon McGregor is an honorary lecturer at The University of Nottingham in the English department, where I attended, and I think sometimes we let feelings such as those taint the fact that we’re not actually enjoying things. Yes, there are occasions in life where we must do things we don’t necessarily want to, but without Jon himself staring at me reading his novel before administering a pop quiz on every line of his work, I think I’ll leave this one out of those occasions.
Are you a book trooper or a skittish dabbler? If you dabble, what do you do with the books you discard?