When I was young, I was taught to always finish reading a book, even if I didn’t like it. In school, that was obviously necessary. But that rule carried over into my recreational reading, and about the time I reached High School, I was finding myself fighting it. Especially if the book was way long, and I had determined I didn’t like it, I saw no reason to keep reading. But some tiny voice kept telling me it was bad to quit a book before I finished it. I would actually feel guilty for not finishing the book.
Fast forward decades later, and I find it much easier to put a book down part way through. I’ve also had plenty of time to think why I sometimes want to quit a book, even a bestselling or award-winning book, before I finish it. And the reason is surprisingly simple. I love to read, and I value the time I have for reading, and I want to use it to fill my life with joy.
I like many different genres of books. I read science fiction and fantasy, thrillers, crime, romance, drama, nonfiction of various types. There are so many books I could read. I can’t hope to read them all. It isn’t a particular genre that captures my loyalty. It’s a point of view.
Life can be such a struggle at times. We all experience tragedy and pain. When I read for fun, I want to read about characters who are overcoming their problems. Of course that is heroic, but that’s why it appeals. I have no interest in spending days reading about some loser who is stuck in a meaningless existence and never manages to change anything. Maybe that’s too much like real life.
I don’t need to read about someone who is worse off than me to feel better about my life. I want to read about inspiring people. People I would like to get to know, or people whom I wish I were more like. I love being inspired to make positive changes in my life, and I think a story with that viewpoint has the power to fire your imagination and fuel your desires.
I know this isn’t true for everyone. There are tons of highly acclaimed books about totally depressing situations that never find resolution and characters who have nothing going for them. And yet those books are regarded as great literature. That’s ok. Whatever you want to read is fine with me, but there has to be at least one character in a book that I can like if you want me to keep reading it. How about you? Are you a “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” person like me? I loved the movie, and I thought the book was even better.