Okay, so this one hurts to write. But I figured it took me a long time to figure out (and caused a lot of misery because I was proving something to absolutely no one.)
You don’t have to finish the book if it doesn’t bring you joy.
Louder for the people in the back, okay, okay… let me just try again.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO FINISH THE BOOK IF IT DOESN’T BRING YOU JOY!!!
I mean, I get it. I do. Sometimes, we feel obligated to read a book. Maybe someone you really like recommended it to you. So, it feels slightly like a betrayal if you were to put it down. Maybe you want to feel smart. (Goodness knows I’ve fallen in that pretentious mood where I want to read it so I can say that I did). Maybe you’re already halfway through, the plot fell through despite the premise, and you just aren’t feeling it anymore.
Well, let me tell you why just “chugging through it” is a terrible idea.
If you’re doing it for the wrong reasons… if it’s out of some dreaded obligation or to look smart, and your heart’s not really in it. Well, it’s okay to put the book down. No, it really is okay. Your high school English teacher isn’t asking you to write a book report on it. Nobody is going to quiz you on anything. I know, I know.
We all kinda long to be the kind of person who pulls out quotes at just the right time to make a philosophical point. We want to read certain books because everyone else has, or maybe somebody told you it had value based on other people’s preconceptions.
I’m not going to deny that, yes, stories are important. We study history to prepare for the future. We should share in each other’s cultures and identities in order to realize our empathy for one another.
But, the idea of some “golden literary canon” that you’re SUPPOSED to read just because somebody else said so? You are not bound by anyone to read that canon. You are allowed to curate a canon that gives you joy and purpose in life. So long as that canon doesn’t spread hate, you are able to find stories that bring you joy and meaning.
You find meaning in books. Others do not dictate that for you. If you find some deep philosophical point in a children’s novel, then embrace that. The stories we find wonderful in childhood are still valid because they made you who you are during your formative years.
And one more point. If you’re reading something and forcing yourself through it, it’ll only build resentment. Kind of like forcing yourself to eat food that has too much salt on it. It’s not going to get better if you keep going.
You’ll just end up salty.
You will only grow bitter against the book by by forcing yourself through it. It won’t get better once you reach that point of no-return. And that resentment might lead you to unfairly judge other aspects of the book.
P.S. Please, don’t send hate mail to the author for it. You are allowed critique, but do not bash an author for personal life or other items unfairly. You can critique a work, but also remember, if you just didn’t like it because of arbitrary reasons, don’t send hate against authors. Reviews can actually be the difference between an author getting paid or not, especially if they’re indie. Always remember good judgment and compassion when supporting people. We should all aim to lift each other up with our stories.
Well, I hope that helped lovelies. I know how important it is to get through a TBR. But, I suppose I’ll leave you with this advice.
You only have a certain amount of time on this earth, and there are countless stories out there in the world.
You shouldn’t waste time shackling yourself to stories that don’t matter to you. Find something that makes you live fully, no matter what, and seize that story to hold it tight.
Happy reading, all.