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Know when to fold ’em…

How do you make the call to give up on a book?  I have a friend who has a firm “100 page” rule– if she’s not into the book by 100 pages, she’s done with it.  This is smart, because no one I know has endless hours to waste reading books they don’t like.

I admire her approach, but struggle to implement it myself.  Once I start a book, even if I’m not really interested in it, I feel like I have a duty to see it through.  If I give up on it, it’s like I’ve left an assignment unfinished.  There’s a logical part of me that reminds myself that there are SO many other enjoyable things I could do with my time, instead of waste it on a book I don’t like.  But there’s also a guilt-ridden part of me that says I must finish, and that if I don’t, think about the time I would have already wasted on reading a book I never finished.

I remember the first book I ever quit– Johnny Tremain.

I had to read it for my 7th grade language arts class. It was boring, and dreadful, and I hated it.  About halfway through, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore, and called it quits.  I don’t remember what kind of assignments I had to do about the book, but I passed 7th grade language arts, so dumping Johnny didn’t derail my academic prospects.  As much as I loathed that book, I still have a little twinge of guilt for giving up on it (but not enough of a twinge to pick it up and finish it now).

My last book club book was Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.  Our meeting was last night, and I genuinely tried to finish the book on time, but it felt like the pages were dragging and dragging.

I’m about 75% done with it.  So far, I don’t hate it, I just can’t get into it.  I can’t relate to the tiny provincial town of Edgecombe St. Mary, I can’t relate to the prim and proper Major, and his embattled love of Pakistani shopkeeper Mrs. Ali, and I can’t relate to any of the younger characters who are all caricatures of one extreme or another.

I feel like I’ve read so much, that to not finish the last 80 or so pages would be a huge waste.  With Thanksgiving coming up next week, I’ll probably spend plenty of time on the couch reading, and will finish this.  Still, I’m torn, because there are so many other fun things I could be spending my time reading.

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