NOT Finishing a Book

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve started a book, gotten about a third of the way into it (enough to know whether you like it or not) and… You. Really. Just. Don’t. Want .To. Keep. Reading. It?


For shame. I know I know.

Reading this book has become torture. It’s 300 pages and you’re only on page 117. Every day it taunts you, daring you to pick it up. You want to finish it. Really you do. In fact you have to. You can’t start another book before you finish this one. That’s just the way it is, right? It wouldn’t be okay to just put it back on the shelf or return it to the library un- read. That’s the unwritten rule of book reading! You have to finish a book you start.

Or do you?

Well, honestly, I’m not sure. I guess it depends. I’m not talking about school books, or any type of assigned reading for a class or for work. My answer in that case is, “Definitely yes.” You have to read those books (or die trying) no matter how badly you want to shove them under your bed or into the back of your closet forever.

I’m talking about a book you chose to read. On purpose. It may have been a book you heard about from a friend, or a book written by your favorite author. Let’s say you went to the bookstore, or borrowed it from the library, or downloaded it onto you Kindle. The back cover description sounded good. The first page was even better. The characters seemed intriguing. And so you started reading it. It’s a well written book. The plot and story are interesting. But, for some reason, you just can’t get through it. You can’t connect with it.

Don’t worry. It’s not your fault.

You’re not going to love every book you read. Just like you’re not going to like every person you meet. Reading is so subjective. What appeals to one person (or a million) may not appeal to you.

I’m the perfect example and I’ll tell you why.

All of the world loves Harry Potter. Because, duh, he’s Harry Potter. He’s heroic and likeable and everything a great main character needs to be. The world loves JK Rowling too. With good reason. She is one of the greatest storytellers of our time. She has a knack for world building not matched by many authors. The Harry Potter series is one of the best known and loved series in the world today. Children and adults of all ages love every single book in the series. In fact, my daughter’s boyfriend is currently re-reading the series this summer. He’s sixteen. He read them as a child, and devoured the whole Harry Potter culture. Today he is a busy teenager. He has sports and a job and friends to hang out with and textbooks to read for AP classes. Yet in his downtime, he’s reading Harry Potter. Again. 🙂

And then there’s me. I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first book in the series to my then seven year- old son about seven years ago. I was amazed at the writing, the story, and well just about everything. We moved onto the second book, The Chamber of Secrets. We got through two chapters. But we didn’t finish it.

There. I said it. I never finished The Chamber of Secrets. I’d like to blame it on my son. I’d like to say he wanted to read a different type of story next. The Harry Potter books are quite long after all. But I can’t blame him. As amazing as the Harry Potter books are, fantasy books are not my favorite. I’ve read many great fantasy books but I prefer books set in the real world. That’s just me.

And so the day I stopped reading Harry Potter, I told myself I would finish it one day. It just didn’t feel right closing the book after only two chapters. Yet I did it. And it’s sort of bothered me ever since.

And that brings me to today. I’m now half way through a middle grade book that I started reading in December. Yeah. December. This book feels like torture to me. And yet it’s a really good book. I just can’t connect with it. As in, I don’t care that much about what’s happening. But, I am forcing myself to finish it this summer. It has been taunting me long enough. I need to finish it and move on.

Careful readers of this blog may know the book I’m referring to because I mentioned in one post that I was reading it.I will not say what books it is here though, because in all honesty, many of you would LOVE it. It is a really good book. The characters are well- written. The premise is amazing and different. I picked it because I wanted to read more middle grade fantasy. I have a lot of blog readers who love this very popular genre. I wanted to add it to the Book Nook if it was worthy. But again… I’m not a huge fan of fantasy. And there you have it. A second fantasy book I’m having trouble connecting with.

We like what we like.

So should I have closed the cover on this book? Maybe. But I’m not going to. I want to give this book its due respect. If it was a terrible, poorly written story maybe I would feel differently. But it’s not. Far from it. And so I will forge ahead, page by page until the very last one. And if you pay attention, you may see it in the Book Nook by the end of the summer. And I’ll give you my honest opinion.

What are your thoughts on NOT finishing a book you’ve started? Have you ever put a book back on the shelf un-read? Did you feel bad about it? Or did you feel a huge wave a relief? I’d love to hear about it. Maybe you can relate to my guilt over taking a long (seven -year) break with Harry Potter. Or maybe I just need to make peace with the fact that reading is subjective. We like what we like, especially when it comes to books!

2 thoughts on “NOT Finishing a Book”

  1. I used to finish every book I started reading, no matter how bad. Then I had kids and my reading time was reduced drastically and I decided that my free time is too precious to waste on books I don’t like. I don’t feel guilty when I try on clothes and put some of them back on the rack, so why should I feel bad putting a book down if it’s not a good fit, right? 🙂
    The only exception is when I’m reading a book to research the market; books that are “competition” for what I’m writing, to familiarize myself with what else is out there. I power through those, even if they’re awful, but I tend to start skim reading or skip to the end.

    1. That is a great analogy. I would never buy a pair of jeans if they didn’t fit just because I tried them on. Thanks for the reminder that’s sometimes it’s okay to move on to something else. BTW, I’m STILL trying to push through the same book, but…I’m taking your suggestion and skimming through some of it. I have the main idea now. That’s enough for me! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s