In the effort to turn our children into readers we often force it upon them. If the child says the story doesn’t interest them or that the book is boring, we chastise them for not being patient or lacking the skills to read. The truth is even as adults, we often pick up a book that we lose interest in halfway. One of the 10 rights mentioned in Daniel Pennac’s The Rights of the Reader is the right to not finish a book.
Today we bring to you an excerpt from an article by Foram Dhruv on The Reader that tells you why it is ok to abandon a book halfway.
Reading a novel is an art. There are a lot of factors that are taken into consideration for it to be passed off as a ‘good’ book. You look at plot and story development, the well-roundedness of the characters, how skilfully the author manages to get his or her message across, and much more. All of these features are of utmost importance to keep audiences engaged.
For a reader, every new book is like a new love affair. He/She can be book-edfor days or weeks to come. And if the book manages to fail the above test, the reader abandons it or at least has a strong instinct to do so. It may sound harsh and even cruel, but many readers I know of (including myself) are at ease with leaving a novel halfway.
Goodreads published an article on the psychology of abandonment and according to their survey, not only literary classics such as Ulysses, Catch-22 and The Lord of the Rings, but popular fiction such as Fifty Shades of Grey, The Casual Vacancy, and several others have often been abandoned.
No matter how absolutely stunning a book might be, difficult vocabulary and ideologies can put readers off, or put them to sleep. On my 18th birthday, my friends gifted me a literary classic, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Now this is a ‘cult book’, a must-read for all literature lovers, and believe me, I was truly psyched on getting my hands on it. I tried really hard to like the book but somehow it did not connect with me. I have picked up the book thrice at different stages of my life, yet it has been impossible for me to read beyond 200 pages.
Rare are those gems who never abandon a book midway. Whether it is persistence or stubbornness, there are readers who prefer sticking with a novel till the end. It is more like companionship — a promise to stay together. They go by the simple ideology that when you start a book, you finish it. There are a whole lot of novels that could bore you in the initial 200 pages or so, but only when you get to the crux of the novel you realize the sheer brilliance of the story. Thomas Hardy is very well-known for his narrative technique, yet I was terribly bored and tired of his detailed description of Egdon Heath in Return of the Native. I stuck with the book and discovered what a marvellous storyteller he is.
There is always a sense of unfinished business with an abandoned book — it is like an incomplete love affair. The fire and chemistry persist but need to be provoked. Time and age also make a massive difference. Will I ever go back to finishing the unfinished? Maybe. Will I still have the same feelings or will they develop into something else? I don’t know. The probability for both is equal. We all have different reading styles and habits. Share with me your thoughts on this incomplete love affair. You won’t find yourself alone.
Click here to read the entire article.