Saturday, May 04, 2013

Prisoner to books

In all my years of reading, which amounts to thousands of books, I've never abandoned a book midway.  Okay, maybe a couple of them over the years, but that was because I didn't understand them.

But why don't I feel like leaving a book midway?  I don't know.  Firstly, very few books have made me want to toss them aside, and so, perhaps my faith in the readability of books makes me want to persevere.   And then, usually, books that made me want to give up were often those that were called "classics" or "must-read" or they were the latest bestsellers and I forced them upon myself because I thought I "ought" to read them.  Also, I feel a kind of compulsion to get through to the end of any book.  A responsibility towards the book.  As if to redeem my perseverance and faith in it, many times, the book has picked up later and proved its worth to me.  But there have also been times when I have plodded through the book, tearing my hair out, and gouging my own skin with boredom and irritation, but yet, not abandoning the book.

And so, it came as a surprise to me when about four months ago, I just stopped reading a book that did nothing for me, looked at it once, and then set it aside.

I waited for a couple of days.  I kept looking at the book from time to time, from all angles.  I couldn't believe I didn't feel the compulsion to finish it.  I waited, and waited.

And I did not finish the book.

It was a kind of liberation, literally.  Because, in the four months after that, I have set aside nearly 8 books without finishing them.  That doesn't mean I have stopped enjoying books altogether.  In the same four months, I have read and loved a dozen books.  But the compulsion to finish a book I have started - that has disappeared.

I don't know what it is.  Some kind of wisdom? (High time, I would say)   A new attitude towards reading and books?  The realization that there is too much to do and too less time to do it in?

But you know, I think I'd made myself a prisoner to books until now.  And now I feel free.


bellur rk said...

shruthi, THAT is wisdom!
what a feeling to feel free and liberated!

replace books with songs, and i feel exactly like you! can't stop listening to any song midway. and am still not liberated.

Unknown said...

I was a voracious reader - so much so - that I had nothing but BOOKS - for breakfast, lunch and dinner too! Then I learnt to FAST READ - a page a minute - maybe even faster; and then realized that most of the sequences that were taking place in the book were so predictable. THEN THE INEVITABLE HAPPENED - I started reading the first 5 pages and last 5 pages - HA HA. I had finally broken the code.

AND THEN I STOPPED READING - I hated books - because I felt I was reading ALREADY READ BOOKS.

The title and the name of the author is enough for me.

Shammi said...

Been there, done that, not doing it any more :)

Revati Upadhya said...

OMG ditto.

I could do with some of that distance and wisdom. Prisoner is what I am. I recently did a post on it. I just cannot get myself to simply toss away a book once I start it. And this includes the really bad ones too. I just feel an irrational obligation to finish the damn thing, and I curse and crib right through it. IN the end I feel like so much time and energy was spent in finishing a rubbish book, and yet with every book that follows, it is the same story!

Unknown said...

I have never had this problem. I am very choosy that way. If the book does not grip me, I toss it aside and move on.

And I also read four to six books at a time, so there are all these parallel stories in my head all the time, I find it easy to ignore the poor ones.

Good that you feel free. Hope that you can now enjoy what you read more.

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