reading on a tabletI caught this provocative essay during my vacation and wasn’t able to respond to it,  but since the fine folks at Book Riot are still talking it  I figure I am fair game to weigh in, even a few days late.

The question: must you finish every book you’re reading? The arguments Juliet Lapidos presents in the ‘yes’ camp are briefly, that finishing every book you read teaches you fortitude, persistence and respect. How can I rebut against that? With three words: life is too short.

That’s it. That’s my answer. Life is too short to read bad books. On the ‘fortitude and persistence’ front, I can learn those skills in other ways. Going to the gym, for instance, is not pleasurable to me. But it is a way to practice fortitude and persistence that offers me tangible side benefits as well, such as improved health and smoother mental functioning. I get those, and I get the fortitude and persistence too. Taking a class is another one. I can be persistent and show fortitude, and come out with a skill to boot.

As for the respect thing—well, Lapidus talks about this in the context of respecting art as a thing, and respecting the work authors did. On the ‘art as a thing’ front, I say that I would rather respect people than respect abstract concepts. If finishing that dull clunker is time I could better spend with the Beloved and our growing family, how can I tell them they can’t have me because I am busy finishing a book I don’t even like?

With that said, I do respect art and I do respect authors. I’ll put that clunker away and take out a good one—that’s respecting an author too…

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. I will admit to forcing myself to finish every book I’ve ever started. It had nothing to do with respect, etc. I was simply afraid I would miss something great that came later in the book.

    I will also admit that, with over 60 years of reading under my belt, that has probably happened less than a handful of times.

    So maybe I’m just stubborn.

  2. Time is expensive, books are cheap. I don’t bother finishing bad books.

    Of course, bad may be subjective. I think Lolita is one of the greatest books of the English language; I’ve read it four times and do to reread again. On the other hand, I think the Harry Potter books ranked up there with cold, dirty dishwater, and will not finish them

  3. After walking away before finishing my Ph.D. in literature, I swore I’d never force myself to finish a book again. I’ve not always kept to that promise, mainly because I have a hard time turning away from a train wreak of a book which has me analyzing why it is a train wreck, but, as you said, time is short.

  4. Only a few books I was not able to finish. The last one was The Shack, by William Paul Young. I just could not get to continue reading it and just returned it not even half done to my cousin who lended it to me. Her look of disbelief was priceless, as she loved it very much.

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