In January, I quickly put the book Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship of Muhammed Ali and Malcolm X on hold at the library. It’s one that I’m writing the discussion post for with the Red Couch Book Club and I was eager to get started. When the book came in, I dove in but quickly found myself floundering. I was having such trouble connecting the lives of Malcolm X and Muhammed Ali to the book club audience of primarily women who are social justice-minded.
I emailed the woman who was writing the introduction post, saying I was about 100 pages into the book and just not connecting with the direction. She wrote back saying she was at about the same place and would focus on her views of Palestine.
I quickly went back to the archives of when we assigned the books and realized in my haste, I had reserved the incorrect copy of Blood Brothers. What I actually wanted was Elias Chacour’s memoir of being a Palestinian Christian. Completely different story.
The Muhammed Ali-Malcolm X book is still sitting on my desk. I’ve renewed it twice and only have 3 more weeks before I need to return it. I know that I’m not going to finish it, but I’m unable to abandon the idea that I could still read it and learn something new.
I’ve always had trouble leaving books, whether they’re just not my style or too dense or the completely wrong book. I like the idea of being able to find something anywhere to learn and expand my worldview.
But sometimes, it’s ok to stop, to return the book, and to recognize that I’m just not in a place to finish every single thing I start. And that’s ok.
Are you able to abandon books or projects? When do you realize it’s time to let something go?
Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “abandon.”
14 thoughts on “Abandoning Books”
Yes – I am so with you on this. I am just now learning that I am allowed to abandon a book that doesn’t resonate with me.
I think it was especially hard because I had committed 100 pages to it. But…. If I’m longing to return to it I know where to find it. 😉 Thanks for stopping by!
Great post, Annie! I’ve done the ‘same title, totally different book’ thing myself.
I have no trouble abandoning books. Recently I dropped one after three pages; the opening scene was unrealistic, the writing stodgy, and the ambience nasty. I didn’t want to live there for the time it took to read the thing. Life’s too short.
#2 at FMF this week.
That makes me feel so much better!! 😉 I think if it’s within the first few pages or chapter it’s much easier to quit… But so freeing when I do!
I have a hard time abandoning books, especially ones that I feel like I should like, based on their importance culturally or historically. (For example, I was an English Writing major in college but I hate Ulysses. I dislike James Joyce in general, which is kind of a taboo thing to say. But there it is. I did not finish Ulysses and I probably won’t return to it). Life is too short there are too many things to read. I need to learn that I don’t need to prove myself to anyone. It doesn’t matter if the books I read are considered popular, important or how many friends recommend something. Sometimes we just have to let it go.
Right?! There are so many I “should” like but just don’t. It’s not my fault or the author’s – some books just aren’t for everyone…. There’s freedom in accepting this, though certainly still not my first nature!
I gave a hard time abandoning books too. It took me like three times to read A Beautiful Mind” Too heady and intellectual for me. Life is too short to read books we don’t enjoy. I’m in the 41 spot this week.
I need to remember that I can always return to it if I need to… 😉
Typically I do like to finish what I start, but if I’ve read the same sentence in a book five times, I can usually put the book down and walk away for good. I guess it just depends on how much I have invested in it and what else is on my plate. And if it dropping the book comes back to haunt me, I can always flip to the end, right?! 🙂
Great post, Annie! Thanks for sharing.
Yes! If I can’t stop thinking about it, I can always come back! And, the investment piece plays a big part for me, too. I’ve committed 100 pages to this one – I think that’s why it’s harder to let go.
Annie, good post. I’m like you in that I like to finish books I read too. Where I’m at on this right now is that I have so much to read between magazine subscriptions, books that have been given to me, books I’m reading for enrichment, and for learning, that if l don’t enjoy/am not getting much out of the book, I’d rather spend what little time I have for reading on something beneficial. WOW, that was a long sentence! 🙂 Anyway, I don’t think there’s any shame in not finishing a book that doesn’t fill you or satisfy in the way you thought it would.
Right? So many books, so little time. And, I have to remember that it’s not necessarily a bad book just because it didn’t resonate with me. I sometimes put too much pressure on this invisible relationship to the author… I think they’d rather I abandon the book than give it a low rating because I struggled through!
I laughed again reading this Annie. A combination of whew! and dang! I’m sure. I don’t have trouble dropping books that, for whatever reasons, aren’t making it. I give it a good try but sometimes, not to be. The same with other projects. Not as much when I was younger. I’m not sure it’s always a good thing.
It still makes me eye-roll/chuckle…. Ah, reading is such a great skill! I feel like this is just a metaphor for something bigger – that it’s ok to let go. Easier said than done. (Always!)