Wednesday, September 9, 2015

When to Make the Decision to Stop Reading a Book

So, my book stack is dutifully in my bedroom. I picked them out when I was moving and committed myself to reading them when I moved. After all, why spend money on books when I had many that I had not read yet? A major theme of this blog is to pick up books for a discounted price or for free. Certainly I should read the books in my house first.

I read a few historical fiction and fiction books this summer, which is a step away from the science fiction and fantasy that I go after. I enjoyed the fiction books I read, so why not take another chance? I was about to embark on a social studies position at my new school: I had a duty to be informed, even if it was to teach 6th graders.

The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. My mother gave me this book lord knows how many years ago. She encouraged me to read it. "It's very good," she commented. "He makes great connections and says it in a way that makes sense." She also concluded that I would be interested in the topic, since I about to start college as a political science major. I just put it on my shelf, committing to myself that I would read it... eventually.

A few weeks ago, I finally did. I dusted off the hardback book, and began reading it.

I got to 50 pages before I put it down again.

I'm not going to write off Mr. Friedman. He's brilliant, drawing conclusions between our ever changing economy and the way we live, but the major problem with presenting theories about our economy, the way we live and technology, is that the technology used to draw those conclusions are defunct 10 years later. This book was written in 2005. It's now 2015, and many of the emerging business models are either common place or collapsed all together. With the housing bubble and the bust, the book is not necessarily ground breaking as it once was. It's almost like a history lesson.

I also realized a few things about my reading preferences. Reading nonfiction books before bedtime is probably not something I would do again. Whereas I tore through Little Altars Everywhere, I crawled through The World is Flat. Now, it's probably the way you're supposed to read it, but for someone that reads to relax, The World is Flat is not a relaxing book.

Sorry, Thomas Friedman. If I ever get my hands on your newest book, I'll give you another try.

I went back to my book stack. What should I try next? I had a few Virginia Woolf books. BAE adamantly concluded that I would like her, so I decided to try "A Room of One's Own." I remember Nicole Kidman playing her in a movie a few years ago (she donned the fake nose, so she must be a serious actress), so I thought I would give it a try.

I got to 15 pages before I put it down.

The introduction warns the reader that it's like an extended essay. Though I felt like she and I were talking and walking about the state of women, it felt like I was at a lecture. A lecture that I was not allowed to comment or question.

Like Friedman, I am not going to write Woolf off. The only author I would ever write off is Thomas Hardy with Tess D'Urbervilles (never again). I do have another book by her, which seems to be a fiction novel. I will give her another try later.

However, making the decision to stop reading 2 books consecutively when I normally stick to books the entire way through made me think of when we should stop reading books. In both of these cases, they didn't serve my purpose. I read to relax before bed. I read so I can escape and go to far off places and read about other people's lives. Both of these books did not do that.

Now sometimes I will finish a book just to give it a scathing review, but it wasn't like I hate either of these books. They were fine books written by brilliant people. I think at the end of the day, my taste in books skew to the light side.

I would like to turn the question over to you: When do you make the decision to stop reading a book? Why?

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