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Books Daily Prompts Tech

Book guilt

On average, how many times do you actually finish the book you’re reading?

Artist and journalist James Bridle encourages us to be honest with ourselves on answering that question. Here’s what he says:

I don’t read like I used to—although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I rarely finish books. I’ve always had a habit of abandoning novels 50-100 pages before the end. I don’t know why, I’ve always done that. I think I’m doing it more and I don’t mind because I think my critical senses have improved and by eradicating book guilt I’ve reached a point where I am happy to cast things aside. I read 5, 10 books at once. I read them on paper and electronically as the mood takes me.

I read with continuous partial attention and I don’t care that I am frequently interrupting my own reading. I despise the discourse that says we are all shallow, that we are all flighty, distracted, not paying attention. I am paying attention, but I am paying attention to everything, and even if my knowledge is fragmented and hard to synthesise it is wider, and it plays in a vaster sphere, than any knowledge that has gone before.

Two thoughts:

  • No need to beat yourself up for not finishing a book. Just don’t blame it on the heat-seeking missiles of tweets and push notifications.
  • Focus on your reading but keep an open mind on how it all connects. You might get interested in something else instead. That’s ok, you can always return to the book later.

The good books stick. If you read it all the way through, you could say you were hooked!

If your inability to finish books is a time issue, consider this advice from Stephen King: ‘I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in. The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows.’

I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in. The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows.

Stephen King

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of four books.

5 replies on “Book guilt”

My name is Brandon, and I have book guilt. (the group says, “Hi Brandon!”) I need to adapt this way of thinking pronto. I’ll push through the most tedious book just because it feels wrong to quit. Old days of sport and “not being a quitter” rearing it’s head.

So true. Like you, I hate giving up given the psychological jabs of quitting (especially if you paid for it) but there’s the library or Kindle for streaming.

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