Sometimes you just can’t finish. You desperately want to, and you try ‘til your eyes roll back in your skull, but there’s a point you know it’s just not going to happen. Then shame sets in, and you wonder if you should admit it or just go ahead and fake it with a gratuitous, “wow, that was really great.”
I’m talking about books, you perverts.
When I was young, I felt it was my duty to finish any book I started reading. It didn’t matter how boring I found the story or how uninspiring the characters. I had to keep going. I owed it to myself, my parents, my library, the author….well, I wasn’t actually sure who I owed it to, but I knew failing to finish a book was a failure of the highest magnitude.
I’ll never forget the first book I gave up on. It was about ten years ago, and no, I won’t name it here. I will say it was a popular bestseller that just didn’t make my toes curl. I felt bad about that. Other people were panting with ecstasy over this book. Why couldn’t I?
But there was something liberating about that first unfinished book. Since then, I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve given up on dozens of books. I’ll usually try for at least 50 pages, but if I’m not feeling the love, I don’t feel the need to keep going.
And yes, I’ve been known to fake it. Come on, we’ve all done it to spare the ego of the person breathlessly waving the tattered paperback and gushing, “I know you’ll love it, it’s my favorite book in the world.”
Sometimes that noncommittal murmur of shared pleasure is all it takes to get the person off your back.
I guess the reason I’m thinking about this is that I did it again yesterday. I didn’t hate the book, and I probably could have kept going, but why should I? I didn’t like the characters, the plot was sluggish, the dialogue stilted, and my to-be-read pile is teaming with other books I’d much rather read.
But I’ll admit there’s still a little guilt involved. Maybe it’s that the book is in the romance genre, so there’s a slim chance I might someday be asked about it. Do I fake it? Or do I perform the, “it’s not you, it’s me” dance and blame my own lack of response instead of the author’s failure to stimulate me?
What do you do in these situations? Do you ever give up on books when they fail to rub you the right way? Please share!
Oh, and congratulations to Judy, Judy, Judy for winning a signed copy of Making Waves in Tuesday’s Fake Q&A contest. Her answer made me laugh, plus I figure the use of multiples in her name should counter-balance the bad climax karma I’ve generated by talking so much about faking this week. Judy, Judy, Judy (yes, yes, yes!) send your snail mail address to me at tawnafenske at yahoo dot com and I’ll hook you up with that signed copy.