As an avid fan of fantasy and science fiction, I’ve read more than my share of terrible stories. I don’t mean dull or unoriginal. I mean monumentally stupid, packed with cliches, lacking any redeeming features what so ever. Just plain bad.
But being the good little reader I am, I stolidly plugged away reading them until I got to the end. I did this for years. I mean it’s only fair right? You shouldn’t judge a story until its complete. That’s something I’ve always thought and I still think it’s true if you’re going to publicly offer any sort of commentary on the work.
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But a few years ago I had a revelation. I really don’t have enough time to waste it by reading books I don’t like. If I’m not enjoying a movie or a tv show, I switch it off. So what masochistic instinct is it that makes me read bad sci-fi all the way to the end?
So I stopped. There are at least a dozen fantasy and science fiction books that I’ve started reading in the last couple of years and have never finished. It’s not even bad books any more. If I’m not enjoying it, I stop reading. That means there are quite few genre classics that I’ve never finished.
I used to feel bad about that, until I realized that I’m not being graded on this stuff. It’s a hobby. It’s for fun. If I’m not enjoying it then I’m wasting time. I’ve never been able to get into Gene Wolfe’s New Sun books for example. I recognize their importance to the genre, but that isn’t a good reason to read a work of fiction.
Does that mean I’ll never read these books? No. My tastes have changed over the years (re-reading some of the stuff I enjoyed as a teenager was a painful experience). I try the New Sun books about every half decade. Who knows, eventually I may be sophisticated enough for them. But until I actually enjoy the read, I’m not going to bother finishing them.
So what about you? Do you have to finish reading a book you don’t like?eoghann.com..