I’ve written a little about it before, but I’m revisiting it. Mostly because I need reminding.
It’s okay to break up with a book!
Your book tastes change over time, at least mine have. I loved the Twilight Saga in its heyday. My highbrow friends teased me relentlessly about it, but teenage vampires were my guilty pleasure. But now, 15 years later, I cannot get through the newest release, Midnight Sun. I can’t do it. It makes my eyes bleed, and a part of my soul dies with every extraneous adverb. I feel like I owe it to Edward and Bella to finish, but the angst is too much. I suppose I could use the audiobook version for a drinking game. Every time Edward says “dark, thick hair” or “chocolate eyes” or “stone-cold, marble skin” I could toss one back. That could be fun.
I understand intellectually that I can walk away from this book, any book for that matter, and that it’s no reflection on my worth as a human being. Knowing my value isn’t hinged on what I read, I still tend to find some fault in myself .
The heart of my worry stems from the concern that I just didn’t get the book. I missed something that should have been obvious, and I’m unforgivably daft. That couldn’t be more true than with the classics. What if I admit I got bogged down in War and Peace? What if I can’t hold my own in a conversation with academics?
With something completely opposite, say a YA novel, I worry that I can’t relate to the youth of today. How out of touch must I be? Only a stodgy curmudgeon would put down Midnight Sun. Do I think I’m too good for a best seller?
Oh, the worries start to spin out of control. I consider being trapped in an elevator with the author. I imagine how awkward it would be if they asked what my thoughts were and I had to admit I didn’t even finish it. I worry that I’ll end up on a game show (cause that’s likely) there’ll be trivia in the chapter after I quit. If I stop reading a book on Friday the 13th, will the jilted spirit of the protagonist haunt me?
Relationships Between The Sheets
Not every book is for everyone. Let me repeat that.
Not every book is for everyone.
That’s okay. I’m understanding this golden nugget of bibliophile wisdom more now I’m writing fiction of my own. My intended audience is specific. I understand that there are people who will enjoy, and those whose eyes will bleed while reading my prose. I can’t be everything to everyone. If I were, how absolutely generic, imitation, in the-big-bucket-vanilla would that be? No thanks. I’d rather be stuck in an elevator with someone who had to move on, than with a reader who couldn’t distinguish my story from any of the thousands of others.
So, if that is true on the writers’ side, then it has to be true on the readers’ side. There are too many books in the world for you to trudge through something boring, distasteful, or heaven forbid, painful. Whenever possible, the act of reading should be a joyful experience, and one of rapture and wonderment. If not, you are in the wrong relationship.
Maybe this situation doesn’t apply to you. You know what you like and you don’t veer away from your genre or authors. Nothing wrong with that and I almost envy your decisiveness and certainty. But if you bounce around the literary spectrum, perhaps you experience this quandary. If you do, give yourself permission to break up with that book. Say whatever you need to say. It’s not you it’s me. This isn’t working out. You’re too good for me. You’re a total pain in the ass. We’ve had a good run, but it’s time to move on. It’s complicated. Maybe it’s not the right time for us. You deserve better and so do I. I took a gamble and chose you, now I believe I made the wrong choice.
Say what you need to say to move on. There are other fish in the sea, and other books on the shelf. Go cast that line and reel in a whopper.
A Few Books I’ve Broken Up With
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina I loved. This one, not so much.)
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence (I might have tried it at the wrong time in my life. I’m willing to give it another go.)
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards (See my notes.)
The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (It had potential, perhaps still might. I saved for my apocalypse reads.)
Planetfall by Emma Newton (Admittedly, I struggle with Sci-Fi. But I keep trying.)
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (I didn’t get the hype.)
Champion by Fabio (It was sort of a joke/dare that I picked up this one. Painful. Just painful.)
The Gunslinger by Stephen King (I’ve enjoyed many Stephen King titles. Just not this one.)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (note: I think I’m the only person alive who doesn’t love Harry Potter. I’ve tried three times to read it. Can’t get past the third chapter.)
Divergent by Veronica Roth (One of the few instances where the movie was better than the book.)
Have you said, “My cat doesn’t like you” to any books? Share in the comments!