"Giving Up On Books"

Steve Leveen:
When I interview people about their reading and ask, “Do you give up on a book you don’t like?” people usually get a pained expression and say something like, “Well I’d like to be able to give up. I should give up. But I find it hard to.”

Ring a bell? It’s the reading equivalent of the clean-your-plate syndrome...

The wisdom of giving up on books is compelling. New York University professor Atwood H. Townsend wrote in his Good Reading: A Helpful Guide for Serious Readers, “Never force yourself to read a book that you do not enjoy. There are so many good books in the world that it is foolish to waste time on one that does not give you pleasure and profit.”
I've been getting better at this — recently I passed on Earthwalk, Wilber's The Marriage of Sense and Soul, and Fabric of the Cosmos. Sadly though, two of these were audiobooks I actually purchased yet couldn't bring myself to finish. Oh well.

Several years ago, when I was traveling and doing lots of meditating, these would have been more appealing. No longer, however. These days I either want to be entertained while I'm commuting, or be learning about things relevant to my life. (though this could change at any time!)


  1. Pimsleur's language tapes seem to be quite good - the Mandarin Conversation CDs were pivotal in making China enjoyable. I found myself *looking forward* to my hour long commute, as an oppurtunity to twist my brain and my tongue into interesting new shapes. Somewhat capriciously I've now started their Portugese series. :)

  2. It's like a movie. After so long, if I'm still not into it, I turn it off or close the book and put it down. Sometimes I go back and give it another try because I think that maybe the timing was bad. Charles Dickens' David Copperfield is just too long, though. I don't think I'll go back to that one.