I'm usually really bad at reading books. But I love the anticipation of a new book.
I crack it open with the same enthusiasm Penny, my puppy, has when she hears her food drop piece by piece into her bowl. She tries so hard to contain her excitement…
The book opens and I lick my lips.
This is gonna be good.
By the end of the first chapter, I sometimes think I could write a summary of the entire book. But I determine to read it anyway. Sometimes at the end of the first chapter I'm really challenged. Sometimes the challenge hurts and I tuck the book away for a couple days to let it settle in, but surely, I'll finish it. Sometimes I don't notice the first chapter ended, or I didn't want it to. Those are probably the only books I've ever actually finished.
I recently heard a piece of advice from one of my favorite bloggers, Jon Acuff. He said "Don't finish books you don’t like."
I’m hoping it changes my reading this year. If I’m tearing through the book and can’t put it down? Sweet. I read a book. If I didn’t tear through it and forgot what chapter one said by the time I get to chapter two? Well… today I dropped off 30+ books at the library. If I decide one day I want to read them? I’ll go back and check them out. If not? I never would have read them anyway and they would take up space in my home. Books are for reading, not sitting on a shelf.
I know this is sorta a plot twist here, but this is a two part post. One part about my new found freedom from feeling guilty about not finishing bad books, but as I read the post by Jon, I also read a post by Don Miller and I think it relates somehow very oddly. It was about how not everyone was meant to be your friend.
I think books are a lot like friends.
I promise. I mean this to be positive.
I’m always excited about new friends. Sometimes, the first time you hang out it’s flat out awkward. You realize there’s no connection, maybe you don’t have anything in common or maybe they don’t know how bad they smell. Sometimes you really get along, but you still feel like you’re putting in a lot more effort and after hanging out you’re…exhausted. And then, sometimes that first “date” of your friendship you’re instantly rolling in laughter. The next time you’re together you find yourselves going a little deeper and getting more serious, but you still walk away with a skip in your step. There are also some friends who you've invested in for a long time and they continue to drag you down.
Most of the close friends I have today were pretty instant friendships. I’ll happily admit, some drained me at first and I thought they would never pay off, and since I stuck with them I wouldn't give them up for the world. So not every challenging relationship is one to quit.
I’m beginning to learn that not every relationship is worth my time... or shelf space.
When you’re trying to go one direction, say the direction of your dreams, and the people in your life are telling you you can't or that it's not important or somehow keeping you from getting to where you want to be, it's okay not to finish that book. It's okay to say, "I love you and I'm not going to spend time with you." It’ll save you in the long run.
You don’t have to finish every book you start and you don’t have to be close friends with people who drag you down.
There will also be a few good books that stick with you for a long time and continue to encourage you and inspire you towards your dreams decades later. Don't let go of those books--or those friends--either.