I didn’t finish The Goldfinch. No disrespect to Donna Tartt intended, but I couldn’t do it. Obviously, some people thought this was the best book released in 2013. I really tried, too. But, when I, who read the entirety of A Song of Ice and Fire in about two months, realized that I had read only ten percent of the book in ten days, I also realized life is just too short. There were books out there I would devour. Several, in as many days.
The internet is all abuzz about whether or not one should finish the books one starts thanks to this article in The Atlantic. I used to sit firmly in the finish camp. If people got badges for hanging with books turned sour for the reader, I’d have a house full. It was a point of pride. “Why, yes, I can count on one hand the number of times that I stopped reading a book before The End.”
I mean, growing up, books weren’t just laying around, waiting to be read. I combed through discards of my family for anything at all to read. Books had weight and value. I love books. As I’ve gotten older, and I buy my own books, you’d think they’d have more value. I have to actually pay for them. With money that I worked to earn. I’m a strong believer that a person values something they have to work to get.
But, as life got busy, and I spent my time raising kids and working to earn my book money, I realized time also had value. Quite a lot of value, actually. And, then, one day I gave myself permission to quit books. I read avidly. I love reading. And life is too short to not enjoy every word I consume. I’ll never get to read all the books I’d like to read. In fact, I read an article recently to the effect that while access to books has increased exponentially, with the popularity of e-readers, free books, and the evolving self-publishing industry, the one thing that hasn’t increased is the time people have to read. Days won’t ever be any longer than 24-hours.
So, this quote from the article I mentioned earlier doesn’t ring true for me.
If you consider yourself a literary person, you shouldn’t just embrace the intellectual cachet that starting books gives you. Starting, but not finishing, books is one step above saying, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that author.”
In fact, it sounds more like the opinion of an author who would really like you to hang in there rather than a reader. I realize I may be reading entirely too much into that. I should note, I don’t consider myself a “literary person” or care about “intellectual cachet.” I’m deeply in love with words, both the reading and writing of them.
I know people who still finish all the books they pick up. Avid readers, just like me, who respect their love of books too much to miss a single word. I suppose it’s the same love of all the words I could be reading that motivates me, as well.
I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic.
Photo used with permission from stock.xchng. Photo by: zdelia.