Saturday, September 20, 2008

Guilt and the Half-Read Book (Part 1)

A week or so ago I noticed a link to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “The Pleasure of Half Read Books” caught my attention. I thought to myself, well, at least I have company.

Blaming everything from mega-bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble with their coffee shops and comfy chairs to the Internet and Books on Tape (CDs), the author of the article writes,
But if you were to force me to accept responsibility for having given up on reading books to the end, I would trace my habit back to finishing my doctorate in contemporary literature years ago. I realized then that except for books that I might teach or write about, I never had to finish another book unless I wanted to. I wasn’t going to be tested on any book for the rest of my life.

That is as good an explanation as any I know. I have started more books lately than I have finished, but tomorrow I will tell you about one that I did finish. Meanwhile, take William McMillen’s advice,
So don’t despair if you have a half-read book taking up space on your desk. Don't feel guilty about not finishing it just because you are a professor. No one cares, and you shouldn't, either. Just move it over to the bottom shelf of your bookcase and find something new. You’ll feel liberated, trust me.


Palm Springs Savant said...

I often have 2-3 books going at the same time, and I jump between them. If one doesn't hold my attention I may not ever finish it!

Marion said...

I've read if a book doesn't grab your attention in the first fifty pages, put it aside for a later time...or never, if you want. It works for me; I don't want to read something I'm not interested in anymore!