I felt so bad writing that title just then, I didn’t finish reading the book.
I know. Isn’t that the reason for book clubs? To read books? Isn’t the golden rule to always finish reading the book?
I thought so too, yes, but then this month, I realised something and I made a decision to stop. Just to stop reading, and here’s why.
The book choice this month, if you remember was Us by David Nicholls. By all accounts it’s a good book, it’s got a 4.1 out of 5 star review on Amazon and a 3.7 rating on Goodreads. Not that star ratings and reviews are everything, but it’s a good way to see that overall, most people who read the book enjoyed it.
I also read this book when it was first published, I think. I’m pretty sure I had a copy of it then, but now, I can’t actually remember if I finished reading it that time either!
It’s not a terrible book
I must say, that I really love the writer David Nicholls. I thoroughly enjoyed One Day and Starter for Ten so thought this would be a good choice, but here’s the thing. I just didn’t like it. Didn’t like it sounds too strong, okay, I didn’t warm to it.
I didn’t particularly like the main character, Douglas and I didn’t care much for his wife either. The narrative drive to the book was the for Douglas to win back the love of his wife and the respect of his son, by going on a trip of a lifetime with them, which sounds great, but I didn’t get that far. Because I wasn’t invested enough in the characters, I didn’t really care if Douglas got back with Connie. He was an alright character, but I wasn’t worried about him, didn’t empathise with his dilemma. I found myself reading a page and then thinking about other stuff I had to do, jobs that needed my attention and I got a bit freaked out by it to be honest. I read each night before going to sleep and I like to escape in another world, to hear another voice, to peek into someone else’s life, and this just wasn’t taking me there. I kept trying with it for a bit, but I actually thought I’d hit a reading slump and so …I stopped reading.
It’s not something I did lightly either.
I knew I had selected it for book club, I knew I had to write a review of it for this blog, but as I carried on, struggling through the story that wasn’t resonating, I suddenly thought, what would my reaction be if I was the author?
If my book was the one that someone couldn’t finish reading, what would I want the reader to do? Carry on or put it down?
Put it down!
If someone wasn’t enjoying my book, if my characters weren’t having any effect on them, they weren’t invested or empathising with them, then as the author I’d really, really want them to stop reading.
I wouldn’t care if my book was the one that they couldn’t finish reading, I’d rather it be that than the book they read to the end and hated.
So, that’s why I didn’t finish reading this book, not because it was terrible but because, at this time, for me, this book wasn’t resonating. And I think that if you aren’t ‘feeling’ a book, if it isn’t catapulting you into another place, another time, if you find your mind wandering when reading then you should stop. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, it’s just the wrong book.
Like someone said at the book club, ‘life’s too short to read books you’d rather not,’ and so I didn’t.
How about you? Do you always finish reading a book once you’ve started? And if you’ve written a book, would you prefer the reader to carry on if they weren’t liking it, or to stop?