Sunday, December 16, 2012

Abandonment Issues

Anybody else do this?  I ask, knowing full well that other people do.  

You'll be going along, reading a book you're really enjoying, when suddenly--you're completely derailed.  The actual cause of derailment varies.  It could be you watch a movie that makes you think about a different book.  It could be that you buy a bunch of new books and one grabs your attention.  It could be that sickness or other life events keeps you from reading for a lengthy period of time and your interest in your current read peters out.  It could be that a new season dawns and you always always always want to read Faulkner when spring starts (amongst other points during the year).

So what do you do?  Do you set aside your current read until a later date so you can indulge in the new object of your interest?  Do you try to read both simultaneously?  Even knowing that you stand a better chance of success if you just read one book at a time?  Or are you one of those magical people who is able to power through their current read without distractions?  (I really kind of hope not because then this post is totally irrelevant to you, but maybe you can offer advice [although can anyone really give advice on reading matters?  Aren't they such a personal preference?])

On my personal blog, I recently created a new reading list for myself based on a list I found on a favorite emagazine.  It's a fantastic list.  So many really good (or so I've heard) books that I've owned and wanted to read for ages.  Some of them I've even started.  I just haven't finished.  In an effort to make some progress on this list, I picked up Jane Eyre on Wednesday when I took my boyfriend to the doctor.  He had the flu.  I made quite a lot of progress on the book.  Then by Wednesday night, I got it (so if this post doesn't make a lick of sense, I blame it on the lingering effects of the flu).  Maybe it's just me being inexperienced with being sick, but I really thought I'd get a lot more reading done.  Alas no.  Most of my days and nights were spent watching NCIS marathons and movies on one of the HBOs.  Very little reading.  I'm a little bit let down.

Today, I woke up actually feeling mostly on the mend.  Mostly.  I thought I'd pick up Jane Eyre and continue progress.  But then I turned on Forrest Gump.  Oh, what a sweet movie.  This morning, that movie made me think about the New South.  And, of course, that made me think about Faulkner.  So I had to get on my boyfriend's Facebook page and find that Faulkner quote to find out what book it was from so I could read that book.  Even though I'm not quite feeling up to reading right now and there's an NCIS marathon on again today.  

It's a vicious, vicious cycle.

All of this chasing down one book after another, naturally, means that I finish far fewer books than I should.  I've really read a bunch of books this year.  I just haven't finished many of them.  So, I subscribe to you readers, how do you combat that?  How do you get yourself to focus on one book until you finish it?

Think about it while I go collapse on the couch, watch NCIS, and try to avoid thinking about another book to start.  I want to read some Faulkner!


  1. It's only a very rare occasion that I outright pause a book. Maybe I love the author, but I'm being distracted by the shiny new things on my TBR list and I want to give it another chance later. Situations like that will have me pressing the pause button.

    Then again, I don't have any qualms with shelving things in my Legion of Doom, aka my DNF list. If I get a third to a half finished and find my mind wandering, or playing Free Flow rather than reading? I ask the fatal question: "If all copies of this book disappeared right now, would I care that I won't find out what happens?"

    If the answer is no, it's straight to the Legion and I'm on to the next book.

    There is only one book I've gone back and attempted to finish. I finally succeeded on the third attempt...I gave myself a hearty pat on the back for it, but mostly? I still didn't care at the end about anything that had happened and it reinforced my DNF tendencies.

  2. This happens to me all the time - I get distracted by new shiny things, or I see a book on a blog that I have but haven't read and I want to read it NOW!

    I haven't figured out a way to combat it yet, other than just giving in to my desires and trying to get back to the book in question later - although it rarely happens, it does if the book was interesting enough!

    Maybe just go with the flow, and read what you want? :)

  3. Turn off the TV! :) It's the best way for me to keep my attention on a book. Otherwise, I read without remembering what I read and then it's too easy to derail as you said. I read about 60 books this year and I might have left openned 10 others. They're on my night stand for now, maybe I'll pick them up again, I really don't know. I always want to read the last book purchased or the one suggested somewhere... I believe we'll never overcome this problem as long as we love books! :P

  4. You are being too hard on yourself. We always are when we have the flu. In a sense, you're a little bit out of your own mind right now and you have to give yourself permission to be there, right? Allow yourself the insanity that flu brings with it because out of insanity can spring true genius. If it's Faulkner you want, go get it. No one with the flu should be reading Jane Eyre anyway. That is definitely not a flu book.

    ...but be cautioned all this advice is being dispensed from a goppy-nosed, stuffed up, getting sick but still in denial of the ramifications of a head cold this close to Christmas woman writing her last ethics paper before college graduation on Thursday that is quite certainly out of her own mind.


  5. Jane Eyre is my perpetual abandoned book. I have started this book so many times! Every time I do, something happens, like school starts and I only want to read books written in the last hundred years, or something new comes along. I have a feeling I'll LOVE the book if I ever finish it, because so far it's been a five star book all the way through. One of my main reading goals for 2013 is to finish this book. I think it's easy to abandon a book such as Jane Eyre that's such a classic because I already know how the story ends.

  6. I tend to do this with long series a lot. I'm in the middle of so many adult UF series that it's not funny. Best advice I have is to just keep at it. Or if worse gets to worse, read the books during tv commercials. I tend to do that quite a bit myself. Or alternate between books if you have multiple ones you want to read. Like have one by the bed book, one book for purse, etc.

  7. I stop and start books all the time. I have one book that I started in July and still have not finished. I have two other books and three audiobooks that I have started months ago and have yet to go through them. I read when I feel like it so that's why I make such slow progress. My advice is to be strict with yourself and read one book at a time. Also to give yourself a break about it because you aren't letting anyone down.

  8. I don't generally want to read too much when i'm sick, which is surprising, since I want to read most of the other time. I don't know what it is about being sick that makes mindless TV so appealing. haha

    But I don't have the other problem you're talking about. Are you sure you're reading the right kinds of books? I generally read stuff I CAN'T put down.

    Every now and then, I'll hit a book I can't finish. That used to REALLY bother me. It doesn't anymore. If I've read something half way, or even less, and I find myself reluctant to pick it up, I generally don't bother finishing. I know what I like to read, and I don't venture out of my "comfort zone" very often. People say I should, but I think there are plenty of beautifully written YA books I can learn from, so I stick with what I know I love.

    I will admit that the few times I've tried to read the classics, I haven't succeeded. I always get bored and put them down. I'd way rather read Cassandra Clare than Charles Dickens, or Maggie Stiefvater than Jane Austen. It makes me feel kinda bad, like I'm not as smart as people who love the classics, but oh well. It is what it is.

    Anyway, my point to this long, rambling diatribe is that maybe you should pick something fun and easy to read (Faulkner doesn't exactly spring to mind with that description) and then maybe you'd finish more stuff? Or you could alternate between easy books and heavier ones? Just a thought. :)

    Hope you feel better soon!!

  9. I am constantly getting distracted from books by getting hooked on new TV Shows. First it was Pretty Little Liars(which I accepted because it was kind of book related :P).. and I basically gave up reading for 2 weeks and was completely hooked on watching every show aired. Now it's Sons of Anarchy. It frustrates me that I'm so easily distracted but I also don't know what to do to combat it. Books are another thing... at any given time I'm reading maybe 4 books. I find it really easy to push them aside lately and pick up another. I almost always go back to them but it's because I feel guilty, lol. I also am most likely to get distracted when it's a review book. I'm not sure why but when I know I HAVE to read this by a certain time it's like I can't focus. Great discussion post! Although I have provided no tips to help you, lol :P

  10. For me, it's not an option. I can't remember the last time I quit a book. Part of it is a, ego thing; I pride myself in being fairly "talented" in picking out good books. If I fail it's punishment (bad books are the only time I feel compelled to abandon; distraction isn't really too much of an issue).

  11. I'm actually doing this RIGHT NOW. I'm reading Jeanette Winterson's Oranges are Not the Only Fruit after I saw a brilliant documentary about her life last week, but then a Christmas novel came in that I really want to read, and I watched a vlog review of The Day of the Triffids which has made me desperate to finally read my copy. Meanwhile my reading of the Winterson has slowed down to a crazy 1-2 pages a DAY because I want to be reading something else.

    I think at this point it's time to put the Winterson DOWN and read one of the others. I can come back to it later, it's no big deal - I'm not going to enjoy it right now if my mind's elsewhere, so surely it's better to wait and try again, from the beginning, another time? I'm a firm believer in the 'right time' for a book. Sure, it's a bit irritating if your attention KEEPS flitting elsewhere and you never finish anything - it might be worth persevering with one or two in that case - but otherwise I look at it as kind of like being on a diet of lettuce but craving cake. If you can't stop thinking about it, just do it and be done!

    Excuse me, I'm off to locate a certain festive treat and a John Wyndham novel about carnivorous plants... :)

  12. I can't read when I'm sick, I always get distracted by the actual being sick thing ;) Or I fall asleep. But movies and TV series work.
    I can always tell when I'm not really enjoying a book, cause I'm doing EVERYTHING except reading the book, sometimes I DNF, sometimes I power through it if I'm interested enough. I think you're right, there's not real advice on reading, but maybe you could try reading something light/fluffy while you're sick and get back to Jane Eyre after? I so love that book, but it's probably not the best for reading when you're not feeling well.
    Also: I hope you feel better soon!!

  13. Ah this is so true - how many times have I longed to be ill and settled under the duvet with a pile of books by my side. But ditto - in reality all I do when ill is doze on and off in front of the TV, occasionally woken by my unattractive ill-person snores!
    The wonderful thing about reading is it's for pleasure so I reckon you should read whatever pleases you according to your mood and not feel bad about it - if a book is good enough to merit your attention you'll come back to it at some point, if not, you're better off reading something else!
    One thing that does always cheer me up when poorly is re-reading a childhood favourite like Roald Dahl or The Chronicles of Narnia because I know the stories so well it's not too demanding on my poor ill-brain!
    Hope you feel better soon and finish Jane Eyre eventually - it's worth it! And then read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys to find out what really happened to the madwoman in the attic.

  14. I loved this post and I am not like most as I always finish a book I start and only read one book at a time. I always want to start a new book, especially new ones I've bought or have read fabulous reviews on my favorite blogs, but finishing a book has become one of my "bookish rules" (quirks?). I learned at a very young age, living in a very small house, to tune out television that I am not interested in. My dad had sports on ALL the time and reading while baseball is on became routine. During my first marriage this was also the norm and this continued with my son after I was divorced as he too is an ESPN/sports lover. Now with a new husband, 2 step daughters I am challenged. My new husband does not watch sports and my step daughters watch alot of reality (obnoxious) television. So now I often go into a quiet room to get my needed reading. I lost my brother earlier this year and this was a time when I couldn't concentrate to read. For almost 2 months I only read magazines. I am looking forward to the next 2 weeks where I'll be off work and plan to hole up in my quiet place and try to fulfill my 2012 reading challenge :-) I encourage all of you "Jane abandoners" to finish the book!! It was one of my favorite reads.

  15. I am easily distracted. Unless the book is THAT GOOD that I just can't walk away - to eat, sleep, work, socialize - I do wander away from a book. Most times I can pick it back up but there are those times that I just fall out of the mood for it. All of a sudden the writing becomes too simple, or the genre not appealing enough. I don't blame anything but my moods, which sway with any old breeze that comes along.

    If I find that I am torn away for too long I'll start it all over again, especially if I find I don't remember anything about that read. But if there's a book that I want to read, or a show I want to watch, I find forcing that other book on myself makes me like it a little less for no reason other than I've pushed myself to do something.

    I say enjoy those detours. Reading is supposed to be for enjoyment. If it's not what you're currently enjoying at that moment, why do it?

    Great post!

  16. Ever since I started watching Doctor Who, I have such a difficult time trying to pick up my book! Nothing is keeping me interested lately, and it's killing me! I think I need to find an INCREDIBLE book that will keep me on track, and then I shall be back on task. Now all I need is that fabulous book.... Great post!

    1. Kristy, I did the same thing when I started watching Doctor Who! I read maybe one or two books in the month and a half it took me to watch 6 seasons.

  17. This happens to me a lot more than I would like, I usually start a book and then either spend way too much time on the internet or get wrapped up in a show on Netflix. Right now it is Doctor Who, Terra Nova, and trying to fix my computer. And I usually keep two books going at a time, one on my Nook and one in physical copy. It also helps if I have somewhere quiet to read. That is a very rare thing around my house.

    @kristy1504 Have you tried reading the Doctor Who novels yet? I think my online library has some of them and I think I might try reading one the next time I get on a Doctor Who binge.

  18. I am SO BAD about finishing books! I've gotten better recently, mostly because I really want to make my reading goal on Goodreads. But I'm also very book ADD. I'm reading three right now. Well reading two and listening to another.

  19. Ugh, I know how you feel. I'm in the middle of 3 (actually 4) books right I stopped reading right before the end because I KNOW how it ends and I don't want to read it because I hate the ending (Pet Sematary), and the other two I've just been meh about. And the 4th I actually started/stopped reading several months ago but it's still sitting on my nighttable and making me feel guilty.


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