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Abandoning Good Books

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One of my current book stacks.

One of my current book stacks.

You’re several chapters into a really great book, and the pace is really picking up. Great characters. Great story. Great setting. Just your type of book. You put it down for a few days. When you pick it up again, you look at it, put it back in the stack, and never touch it again.

Or you’re galloping along, halfway through, when all of a sudden it is just… overwhelming. Or uncomfortable. Or something.

Or you read the first chapter and are completely fascinated – and hate a character so much that the rest of the story can’t pull you through. It doesn’t matter that this character isn’t the lead. It doesn’t matter that you love the lead. You are just. Done.

Has this ever happened to you?

Recently I’ve edited my reading list to make room for more substance and less junk food reads. I’ve also started picking up more books based on recommendations and less on my Book Psychic superpower. One of the strange and wondrous things I’ve noticed is that I walk away from better books than I used to slog through! It’s as though the higher level of engagement I have with these books has made me less tolerant of not getting what I want. I kind of liken it to going on a diet. If you can only have so much food, you want what you eat to taste the way you want! Put another way, a perfect steak does not suffice when you crave chocolate cake.

I’m trying now to work out my own personal criteria for abandoning a book, but there’s a good chance I’ll just keep walking away when a book no longer appeals to me. Life is too short to waste time on books that don’t call to you.

Some really good books I’ve walked away from recently:

Eleanor & ParkI was halfway through this one and just couldn’t read any more. It’s a beautiful YA love story. The characters are very real and very compelling. Many, many people have raved about it. I may end up picking it up again later, but for now it’s just not for me.

What Alice ForgotI think everyone on the planet loves this book and this author. I picked it up and put it down repeatedly before giving up, and I don’t think I’ll try this one again. I know I’m in the minority here, and I’ll probably try her new one, Dirty Little Lies, to see if it’s story- and not author-related. Who knows.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel. This one is still staring at me from my stack. I know it’s a good book because I keep thinking about it, but something happened in it that hit my personal ick button and I can’t even touch it.

Don’t let my abandonment cause you to miss out on what the rest of the world says are amazing books, though. I truly believe that books are subjective; one woman’s trash is another’s treasure.

Do you ever abandon books, and if so, how do you decide when to stay and when to go?

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