So many books, so little time

Posted: June 23, 2018 in Writing
Tags: , , , ,

Occasionally, I shake my head at some of the things I used to do. One of the dumbest was finishing every book I started, no matter how bad. No more. I wasted a lot of time reading crap because of my completion compulsion, and as a result didn’t read a lot of good books I’d otherwise have had time for.

Anymore, the first thing I do is read a book’s opening sentences and then, if those don’t cause me to drop it as if it were leprous, flip to a random page and read a paragraph or two. Of the books that make it past that initial weeding-out process, I finish maybe one out of four. Sometimes I’ll stop reading after a few pages, and sometimes only after I’m halfway or more through a book.

With nonfiction, I’ll put a book down if the writing is sloppy or otherwise bad, if the argumentation is consistently faulty, or if the author obviously did a poor job of research.

With fiction, I’ll stop reading if the writing is bad enough to get in the way of the story, if the writing style irritates me, if there are plot holes big enough to drive an 18-wheeler through, or if there are major implausibilities or absurdities in the premise(s) or events. (I just stopped reading a sci-fi novel because it hinged on NASA managing to build both an interplanetary spaceship big enough for dozens of people and an equally large space station in orbit around Mars — and managing to keep both projects secret. Please. Spare me.)

If you’re still finishing every book you start, please consider doing yourself a favor by putting down books that aren’t worth your time. If you do that, you’ll probably end up reading a lot more good books.

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