Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reading for obligation or for love?

btt button

Suggested by JM:“Life is too short to read bad books.” I’d always heard that, but I still read books through until the end no matter how bad they were because I had this sense of obligation. That is, until this week when I tried (really tried) to read a book that is utterly boring and unrealistic. I had to stop reading. Do you read everything all the way through or do you feel life really is too short to read bad books?

Obligation to whom? Your time is your own; waste it if you wish. I really do feel that life is too short to read bad books, eat junk food, or drink bad wine. I've said it before and I'll say it again! That is not to say, that our tastes, our interests, or our talent as readers doesn't change. So while I feel no obligation to read anything I don't want to (except for a school assignment), I am not ashamed to try something again and am willing to contradict my original opinion by liking it. That happened with Bleak House and it happened with Iris Murdoch's The Nice and the Good (that didn't take until the 4th try). I actually think you do the writer greater honor if you read the book when you are best disposed to appreciate it rather than as some sort of intellectual vitamin pill or dreary chore. Read for love (or at least for like) and you might find you are a better reader.

9 comments:

jlshall said...

I had the same sort of experience. Mine was with Pride and Prejudice - couldn't wade through it as a teenager, but absolutely loved it when I tried it again a few years later. I suppose we should always be willing to give a book a second chance. But "Read for love" is wonderful advice, and I totally agree!

Yvonne said...

Logically, I know I shouldn't waste my time finishing a book I don't like, but I do anyway :) Although, there have been times, I'll put it to the side and try again at a later date, I often find I liked it better at a different time. Probably because I'm a mood type of reader.

Nise' said...

There are books that I will put aside for another time but also some that I know I will not pick up again.

Barbara H. said...

I've done that, too -- come back to a book that I laid aside earlier and enjoyed it.

MarceJ said...

Sometimes I can tell there are books I just am not in the mood for but if I say 'its a bad book' totally my opinion i'm done, I won't waste my time either.

My response
http://teawithmarce.blogspot.com/2009/11/booking-through-thursday-to-short.html#comments

J.S. Peyton said...

I agree with everything you've said here, especially the part about changing tastes. I've found that a lot of the time, my displeasure with a book doesn't have as much to do with the text as it does with my mood or the time of life that I'm in. Books don't change, but we do all the time, and sometimes that can make all the difference.

roxanestoner said...

Well said! I would add that I do read for love,for like but also for interest. Sometimes I don't particularly like what I am reading but I want to know about it; it keeps my attention and I want to know what the author had in mind. As an example, I am reading "Nocturnes" by Kazuo Ishiguro and I do not like any of the five stories but I have learned so much about those self centered characters that it has kept my interest, I also was interested in knowing the corelation between the title and the content. It worked and I am glad that I am sticking with it. Not a waste of my prescious time.

Isabella said...

In her preface to The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing writes, "Remember that the book that bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty — and vice-versa. Don't read a book out its right time for you." Learning that made me a much better reader.

(I really struggled with the the first 80 pages of Infinite Jest the first time I tried it. Now I think it's one of the greatest books ever.)

Kittie Howard said...

Agree with what you said, also agree with Roxane's comment about reading for interest...and those interests do change...