As a child, my husband was a voracious reader. Even into his teens, he continued to read, a lot. Science fiction and fantasy were his favorites. He read all of Tolkien at a young age and tore into the very intimidating Dune series by Frank Herbert in his teens and twenties.
Then came George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones…
Being a dedicated sci-fi fantasy reader, my husband obviously decided it was important to read the A Song of Fire and Ice series. He immersed himself in the first three volumes, engrossed by the rich characters and storylines that twisted and turned with no regard for normal formulaic literary standards.
Then came books 4 and 5. The fourth installment started out as usual. He dove back into the sometimes chaotic and seeming to “going nowhere” prose, but still found it enjoyable. Soon, however, my husband began feeling reading the book was onerous. He dragged himself to the end of the fifth book like a runner exhausted at the end of a race, the compulsion of needing to finish something he’d started the only thing pushing him forward. By the end of book 5 he’d long lost interest in the characters and where they would end up.
When he finished book 5, my husband didn’t pick up another book for over a year. Actually, it might have been more.
It was a little bit sad. One of the (many) things I first loved about my husband was that he shared my love of books and reading. When we moved in together it was harder to combine our books in a tiny New York apartment than our clothes.
His love of books had been crushed under the weight of the GOT narrative. I didn’t know how to fix him.
I suggested shorter books. I nudged. I nagged. I teased. I recited quotes about the importance of reading. Nothing worked. This is probably because these are very bad tactics. Nagging and teasing aren’t really the best motivators. They’re kind of the opposite of loving and supporting. (I can be kind of a pain to be married to.)
Like many people and things in life, my husband just needed time. He had to want to read again, which meant distancing himself both metaphorically and literally from GOT.
Eventually, he started reading again. A little Ready Player One by Ernest Cline here. A little The Stand by Stephen King there. Why would he dip his toe back into the reading pool via a dense, 823-page book? (Clearly, he’s a glutton for punishment.)
Not to sound melodramatic, but why not me?
All of this made me wonder if there is a book I could read that would make me never want to read again? If so, I hope I never find it. How awful.
But why did my husband get crushed under the metaphorical weight of a book and not me? Do I have some secret, special power? Ultimately, I think the problem lay in his sense of obligation to finish the series, whereas I will stop reading a book if I don’t enjoy it (after giving it a very decent chance, of course). Get out your tomatoes now and prepare to throw them…I gave up on the Harry Potter series mid-way through the third book. He felt invested in GOT, which is understandable. He felt compelled to finish it. I doubt he’s alone.
Almost 40% of Goodreads’ members who completed their survey said they always finish a book no matter what!
Goodreads did a not-very-scientific, but interesting, assessment called The Psychology of Abandonment. It looks at the reasons why people stop reading books and the most interesting part was many people don’t! In fact, almost 40% of the members who completed their survey said they always finish a book no matter what!
So how do you keep crushing on books and not let books crush you?
Here are my suggestions.
1. Alternate your book types. Mix it up so you don’t get sick of what you’re reading.
2. Don’t read a book series all at once. Put some distance between the books, especially if they’re very long. (Unless they’re the Mortal Instruments series because that’s impossible. Those books are crazy addictive.)
3. If you’ve read 5+ chapters (decent sized chapters that are more than 3 pages) and you aren’t enjoying a book, put it down and read something else. You can try coming back to it another time. (Sometimes reading is about your mood and emotions at the moment.)
4. Try reading more than one book at a time. I read anywhere from 3-5 books at a time, usually of varied genres. I’ll alternate between them during the week. It keeps my reading time fresh and interesting.
5. Don’t feel obligated to finish a book or a series. Reading shouldn’t be a chore. (Unless it’s for school or work.) If you’re reading for fun, it should be fun.
Anyone else ever had a book that made them want to give up reading? At least for a period of time? Or have any suggestions on how to avoid having this happen to others?