Here we go again. Fifty pages in, and already I’m itching to close the cover, and furtively creep back to the bookshelf. It’s not that it’s a bad book, not at all. But it just doesn’t feel…right. Not when there are so many other worlds waiting to be discovered, jackets blue and green waiting to be creased open, their delicious contents devoured. And if you are going to immerse yourself fully into a story, surely it makes sense not to waste your time on a something that doesn’t instantly grab you and pull you in. Right? I look again at the back cover, feeling a twinge of doubt as I read the the rave reviews.
“Mesmerising” – The Guardian
“I simply couldn’t put it down” – The New York Times
“Anyone who doesn’t love this book is out of their mind” – The Independent
Cautiously I open the pages once more, read another sentence or two, and then huffily close it again. No. Back I go to the bookshelf, my finger trailing the spines, now and then sliding out a tome or two. Ah, yes, this one will do. Plonking myself back down into the armchair, I nudge aside the neglected novel. I’ll come back to it, I think. I’ll come back to it when I’m more in the mood.
My shelves are littered with such discarded stories. Once upon a time I would read a book cover to cover, regardless of how much I was enjoying it. It seemed somewhat shameful to abandon them, especially if I’d already invested an afternoon or two into the reading of them. But I find that as I get older I just don’t have the patience to persevere if I’m not completely engaged. Often, I will return to them, I will hear the faintest whisper calling to me that perhaps now is the right time to read about a turn of the century butler. And, more often than not, those whispers are absolutely right. Some people have a tendency to roll their eyes when they hear our excuses, we Book Abandoners, lacking the stamina to push through, enjoyment or no enjoyment, pain or no pain. But I’m not so sure they have it right.
There are some books that you will read twice, three times, five times, and every time will be a delight. But for the most part, books get one shot. One. And how much you enjoy the experience will often have a lot to do with how you were feeling when you began reading it. I have snapped shut the cover on plenty a book in the past, that I went on to later read and utterly adore. If I had pushed through that first time, would I have had the same pleasure? That’s what I’m telling myself now, anyway, as I add another victim to my paperback graveyard.
What are some of the books that you came back to when you were in the right mood, and were glad you did? My top titles from this year are:
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
The Remains Of The Day
All The Light We Cannot See
And one that I highly doubt I will ever go back to is The Little Friend, by Donna Tart. I squirmed through 300 of the 500 pages before I finally gave up. A girl has her limits. Curious to know why people abandon their books? Goodreads produced an infographic on the main reason why readers jump ship.