Discussion: Are You Going to Finish That?

In the years 2012-2015, I deliberately put aside four books (I think it was actually one a year) without the intention of finishing. I came to a point in these books where I didn’t care enough about the characters or their journey to continue.

However, in the same number of years I have set aside about 7 books to not be picked back up again thus far, but that I would like to finish.


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Five of those books were non-fiction. One was Les Miserables. One was The Prestige audiobook, and long story short, it took me a long time to figure out how to download an audiobook with my library again like that without streaming with my phone’s data, and by the time I did figure it out I did not really have a good time to devote to audiobooks, and I just haven’t gotten my hands on a physical copy since.

As a general rule, I read one book at a time, for about an hour or two a day at least five days a week. For some reason, I have a difficult time putting non-fiction down and picking it back up in this matter. There are exceptions, like the wonderful book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. But in my daily reading time, I am seeking some sort of escape. For most non-fiction, I have to pretty much carve out a different reading time and read it in significantly less settings. This worked out really well for Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs, which I read most or all of one Sunday afternoon, and completely adored it.

Some of the books I have set aside but not picked back up yet have been religious non-fiction, which, even when I like the book, can be hard for me to dedicate the time to both read and reflect. Another one was a writing book that has been highly praised but I wasn’t really into, though I still think one day I’ll get back to it. But again, I feel I might need to take notes or something when I read it, rather than doing so leisurely.

And while Les Miserables is fiction, that behemoth is certainly not a leisure read. What I read was really interesting though, and I would like to pick it back up. I was actually trying to read that one at a different time than my normal reading time, very slowly. I’m not sure what the best plan of action for me reading it in the future is though, other than dedication.

So tell me, do you struggle with occasionally setting something aside and not picking it back up? What kind of books do you typically set aside to finish later? Do you have any specific reading strategies that work for you when it comes to books that you might not read as easily as others?

10 Responses to Discussion: Are You Going to Finish That?

  1. Much as I try to read one book at a time it never works out that way! Right now I am juggling two biographies and a memoir–none are light reading but I like it that way. I have certain times of the day when I want to read the bios (first thing in the morning) and the memoir I will save for nighttime.

    So for my birthday I got a lovely stack of books and I was thrilled. And dismayed! How will I fit them all in? I’m such a slow reader. But the nice thing is, I will never run out of stuff to read. 🙂

    • I just can’t read multiple books at once! It would be great if I could figure out how to balance non-fiction and fiction reads at the same time. That’s interesting though how you read different types of books at different times in the day! But I understand being a slow reader, at least compared to other bloggers.

  2. Definitely, I struggle with picking up a book again. I think if I take a break, every time I think about going back to the book, I remember why I put it down in the first place, and I just keep putting it off. For me, putting a book down for a bit is not a good thing.

    Les Mis is a book I want to read, but it is so dense. I would feel sad if I couldn’t get through it. I tried reading War and Peace once and couldn’t get through that though, so I should just accept if it’s not for me. 🙂 I hope you’ll finish it though!

    • True, I rarely put books aside so if I don’t it’s usually not a good sign, as you said. Though with non-fiction it’s just hard for me to be motivated, even if I was interested in it. Les Mis definitely had really interesting chapters and some that were less so, and being intimidated by the size made it harder to want to power through. One day though I do want to try again!

  3. I definitely do put some books down with the intention of picking them back up again, however, most of the time, I end up not getting into them at a later time. I don’t really know why, though, as sometimes, it’s really a mood thing. I do pick up books based on my current mood, but that can change, and then, even if I have a ‘pick up later’ shelf on Goodreads, I kind of forget about those.
    There are other books I just can’t get into at all, either because the characters don’t make sense to me, the pacing is completely off, or the story is riddled with mistakes (spelling and grammar mostly) and then I put it straight to my DNF shelf. I don’t want to spend too much time trying to figure out what is written if there are mistakes. And characters that don’t make any sense to me – like those who start out strong but suddenly are like sheep following someone else around and seem to have no personality at all – just make me roll my eyes and want to read something else entirely.
    Very interesting topic, Amy 🙂

    • I’ll definitely DNF a book for the reasons you mentioned! Some people choose to power through but if I have no desire to read the book, then why bother?

  4. non-fiction, totally!
    There’s fiction I DNF. But apart from that, once I start reading fiction, I finish it. And generally pretty quickly (within a day or two). Jonathan Stange & Mr. Norrell took me I think a week or two but that’s a huge book. So did Atlas Shrugged (again, huge book). But other than DNFs, Great Expectations is the only fiction I’ve put down and have yet to pick it up again. I got to a point in the story where I thought it was all about to go very badly and didn’t want to read it. But my sister assures me it does not all go very badly and so I want to pick it up and just haven’t been in the mood for…. maybe over a year. ouch.

    But non-fiction is a different story. It doesn’t engross me the way fiction does and while it’s interesting or helpful, it isn’t *fun* the way fiction is. I can pick those up and put them down easily. Or, at least put them down. Picking them up requires a) turning off the tv b) I have no fiction books I’m dying to read instead c) don’t have plans to socialize with other human beings d) I have none of my own writing to do e) I have caught up on my friends blogs and left my binge of comments (hi!) or even if all those things aren’t true at least decide to read this non-fiction *instead* of all those things. So, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. The one I keep meaning to pick back up is Creativity, Inc by one of the founders of Pixar. It’s good so far (two chapters in) but well it’s non-fiction so I’ve had it since… August. at least.

    • Our struggles are the same! Glad to know I’m not alone! And you’re so right about non-fiction being not fun even if it’s engaging, maybe that is part of the reason why it’s hard to feel that draw to it.

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