The truth is, I’m a picky reader. I want to be one of those people who can devour any and all books that come their way, and I used to be, back when I was a kid and reading was new and I didn’t write my own books. But the fact of the matter is, I know what I like, and I know what I don’t like. If reading is a hobby for me, if it’s something I enjoy, why would I turn it into something I don’t have fun doing?
Now, let’s talk about The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. For all intents and purposes, this looked to be the holiday book of my dreams: retelling of a classic Christmas story, a setting I didn’t expect, a character with a redemption arc. But when it came time to start the book, I ran into the same problem I did with movies like Groundhog Day.
I can’t read a book with a main character that’s supposed to be unlikable. I just can’t do it. It doesn’t matter that I know that she’ll turn it around in the end – Holly Chase made the book so unreadable for me (and it was well-written and intriguing, I just had so much anxiety about the character) that I wasn’t able to get past the first ten pages.
Now, that’s a personal thing that I have. Not everyone is going to pick up Holly Chase and think, “Oh, man, this book gives me anxiety because I don’t like the main character!” In fact, there are plenty of people in my book Facebook group who loved it. So I’m sure it’s a great book.
It’s just not the book for me.
The thing about being involved in the book community is that there is a certain air of “you have to see this through.” You have to finish the book to be able to review it. You have to make it to the last page, even if you’re not having fun anymore. Abandoning a book damns the book, and it damns you – why weren’t you able to finish it? What’s wrong with it? What’s wrong with you?
It’s not something overt that happens, but admit it, we all feel a bit of guilt when we put down a book we can’t finish. It’s admitting defeat! But not really.
You see, I think that guilt over abandoning a book is BS. Maybe it’s because my New Year’s Resolution is to live life with no unwarranted apologies, but I think that when it comes to a hobby, something we’re supposed to enjoy, there is no shame in saying, “This isn’t fun for me, I’m making it fun for me again.”
So here’s the end of my spiel. This year, do yourself a favor. If you don’t like a book, put it down. If you find yourself dreading a read, abandon it. If everyone else is reading something and you really don’t want to, don’t read it. Make reading fun for yourself!