I Don't Mind Leaving A Book Unfinished
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I Don't Mind Leaving A Book Unfinished

Not every story is going to change my life.

I Don't Mind Leaving A Book Unfinished
Kelly Bergh

A tenacious reader, I used to have difficulty putting down a book I’d started. Renewal after renewal at the library kept every book I went out of my way to select in my life, no matter how long it took me to read it or how painful it was to finish. I’d chosen that book, and it would be mine until I completed its last page.

I love commitment and follow-through. In my mind, abandonment is the worst crime a person can commit—and this extends to books. In seventh grade, I documented reading 154 books to completion over the year. Granted, the majority of these were from middle-grade series, consumable in a single sitting, but I’d read every one in sight, unbiased and all too hasty to get my hands on any type of story, even if it came to mean nothing to me. Deserting a book, a product of someone else’s imagination, was not an option.

No matter the size, subject, author or publisher, I couldn’t bring myself to return a book that had captured my interest. When I began working at a library as a 15-year-old, leaving behind a book that had captured my attention while shelving left it vulnerable to a reader who might not appreciate it as much as I would.

But most of the time, I would end up being that very reader. I wouldn’t value a book, instead just using it as a means of meeting some unrealistic goal to beat a personal record.

Now I see that letting go of a book doesn’t mean I’m not a committed reader; it just means that my life may not fit a certain story at a particular point in time. This doesn’t necessarily mean I'm putting it down forever. In a couple weeks, months, or years, I may feel inclined to pick it up again, when its topic or tone feels more apropos.

Now I take so much joy in what I do choose to read. I’m an English major; reading, writing and editing all day, every day. I have to be selective about what words I bring into my life simply because I don’t have enough time to read everything I’d like. My publishers send me review copies that go unread for months, defeating the purpose of having a review copy at all since most of the time they’ve been released to the public by the time I get to them. All too frequently, special galley copies I prize get relegated to the bottom of the pile on my nightstand. I get to them, though. I always do and I savor them more after the wait.

As it stands, my “To Read” list is over 185 books long. I’d love to get to them all immediately, but my time is precious; if I start one and hate it, ceasing reading at page 30 is okay. I’m careful in selecting the words that will mean the most to me. While my previous reading methods gave me wonderful insight into the minds of so many different authors, I get to know the minds of the creators of the works I do complete more intimately now. I’m less voracious but more considered, reading 40 books a year, tops. Life is too short to read something that won’t change your world.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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