When Reading is a Chore

I love to read. It’s one of my favorite activities.

I especially love curling up to read with the boys. It’s always fun to snuggle with the Bear and read his favorite picture books (unless he chooses a Thomas book. I’m OVER Thomas the Tank Engine).

It’s particularly fun to read with the Bug, though, because we’re reading chapter books together. We’ve read a good number, including all of the Chronicles of Narnia, some Dick King-Smith (Babe, anyone? I LOVE that book!) and a few Roald Dahl books.

It’s such a pleasure to read with him and discover stories together, or see him enjoy the books that I loved as a child.

But sometimes, reading is a chore.

With some books, I find myself doing anything EXCEPT picking them up and reading them. This invariably means that it takes me forever to get through these books.

Usually, it’s a sure-fire sign that I am not enjoying a read. And yet, I often struggle to put aside something that I have started.

Reading Guilt

I’m not sure why I have this idea that I have to finish the books I begin. It’s not like I’m reading them for a book group, a class, or for any kind of deadline.

Often, I can feel bad if I’m not enjoying a book that someone has recommended. This is especially true if it’s a recommendation from someone I particularly love or respect.

I need to remind myself that the way I feel about their recommendations does not reflect on how I feel about the person!

Also, if I’ve paid money for a book, I tell myself I really should read it. It’s a waste of money if I don’t, right?

(This is why I’m so glad we have access to such wonderful libraries…)

What Puts Me Off

It can be for any number of reasons.

If a book is boring, then I feel far less guilt about dropping it.

The worst is when I can objectively acknowledge that a book is good, but something is keeping me from thoroughly enjoying it.

It’s usually because I don’t like the protagonist or a main character. I can’t get behind their choices, or they’re just awful people.

Sometimes, it’s the author him or herself (if I’m honest, more often a him). Do you ever feel like, even when reading a work of fiction, you’re actually reading something autobiographical? This happens to me quite often, but I don’t generally mind it.

When it does bother me, is when I can tell that the author is a real jerk. This happened when I read For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.

I know, I know! It’s a classic! A masterpiece! It’s supposed to be sublime literature! But GOOD GRIEF WHAT A CHAUVINISTIC JERK!

It took me waaaaay too long to finish that book because I cringed almost every time I picked it up.

Call me a Philistine if you will, but when reading Hemingway, I found there was simply too much of… Well, Hemingway, in his writing.

All That To Say…

I’m reading a piece of non-fiction right now, and though I wouldn’t say the author is a jerk like Hemingway, he (and the people he’s surrounded by in his story) are insufferable snobs.

He’s got a great story to tell (I think, I haven’t gotten all that far), but man, I would NOT invite him to a dinner party. I swear, he’d spend the evening lecturing us about the superiority of other cultures and would make literary and historical references, and then scorn us for not recognizing them.

No, thank you.

But I guess I’ll try and finish his book. As long as I don’t have to meet him.

Jane

The Brain In Jane works mainly in the rain. It's always raining somewhere. Find me on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

3 thoughts to “When Reading is a Chore”

  1. I used to feel the same way, that I had to finish any book I started reading. But at some point, I realized that life is too short, and even if I spent all my time reading, I will never be able to read all of the books I want to read. And in that case, why waste time on a book I’m not enjoying? My only rule now is that I have to give it a fair chance (at least 50-100 pages) before I give up, but if I’ve made it that far and am still not enjoying it at all, time to put it down and move on to something else!

    1. Wise words, Alia! I think I need to give myself permission to set a book aside. I’ve done it a bit more recently, but I especially have trouble with then book’s been given to me by a friend.

      1. Maybe it would help to have a good response handy for any time someone recommends a book that you’re not enjoying? Something like, “thanks for the recommendation, but I just couldn’t get into that book”?

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