I've always been a dutiful reader, slogging my way through books for days, weeks, sometimes even months thinking, "I have to finish this." I've always known why I felt that: it's part of my makeup to be The Good Student. And good students of literature always finish what they read.
Well, I've got news for you. I really don't care anymore about being the good student. What I do care about is getting back to a place where reading is a joy for me, because for a long time it hasn't been that way. There are many times that I find myself 100 pages into a book and picking it up every night with a sense of obligation, not anticipation.
That was my old rule: 100 pages. I'd read 100 pages before I decided to finish, because I know that some books need to be given some time to warm up. No more.
So now I have a new mantra. It's "Twenty Pages." That's the limit now. I will give a book twenty pages before I decide whether it's worth my valuable time. Sometimes it may be less, but never more.
That goes for books I'm reviewing for this blog, including books that I've been asked to review. It also includes books that I've announced that I will be reading and writing about on my own. If you don't hear about it within a reasonable amount of time, that means it didn't make the cut.
Now sometimes just because I don't finish the book doesn't mean that it's a bad book. It may be just the type of book that I'm not interested in, or it starts out in a way that I can't follow. A book I picked up yesterday at the library had received rave reviews and from what I gather it's a very good read. But it begins with a group of people - druids - conducting a ceremony. Even though I love reading English history, the time of druids is not one of my favorite subjects. Now, granted, if I waited and read another 100 pages, I mind find myself riveted to the book. But I'm not willing to plow through 80 more pages of druids to find out. I closed the book after 11 pages.
What was the turning point for me? Was it a certain book that put me over the edge?
Not really. The epiphany came when I rearranged my books the other day after my purchases after the weekend. I realized that I had at least two shelves of books that I had purchased over the past year, and that I haven't been able to even open them - even after a year.
What about all of you? What's your page limit?
44 minutes ago