Sunday, January 4, 2015

"Decluttering" my Reading List

I have been doing well with at least one of my goals for 2015. I started trying to read more a few days before Christmas and it has been going well. I finished two nonfiction books and then shifted to novels for a while. (My favorite so far is Haruki Murakami's latest.)

Boston Public Library via

A few years ago, before I started graduate school, I took some time off for a teaching fellowship abroad. It left me with extremely ample free time, and I got into the habit of reading voraciously. I have always liked many airplane-reading type thrillers (which I mixed with the occasional more serious novel) and I read a lot of nonfiction too. There was very little that I wouldn't finish. Indeed, I often feel a bit of a compulsion to finish a book once I am more than a few pages in. Only the most noticeable quality issues are enough to keep me from trying. I commuted a lot more often by subway, which left me with at least forty minutes or so of built-in reading time in my schedule for any given day.

These days, however, I do more than enough reading for school or work, and I generally don't commute anywhere during the week. There have been times when I set aside a half hour or so to read every night before bed, but that is not always the case. Books I used to gamely finish now linger on my Kindle or bedside table for months while I opt to listen to podcasts instead. I realized early last year that if I was going to keep to the habit of reading for fun, I would need to be far more selective about my reading material. There is certainly no point to keeping up with reading a book that is tedious to me, and not adding any value to my life while it takes up time or keeps me from reading something else that I would enjoy more. 

I say all this because I just started reading what is likely the first "dud" of a book for this year. It is reasonably well-written insofar as it is engaging. I don't particularly dislike the experience of actually reading it and it is "easy" to read quickly. However, the characters and the way the plot is structured leave a lot to be desired. Back in my gap year days, it would have been an easy thing to finish it and move on. I also happen to be on a fairly long break between semesters, so it would be an easy thing to finish now. 

Overall, though, it makes more sense to cut my losses and move on. I read the spoilers on Wikipedia, which I often cannot help doing and I saw that nothing seems to improve. My time would be better spent starting on the next book.

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