Josh Jameson's quote hit close to home for me today, on several levels. I used to feel guilty giving up on a book once I started it. I believed that when an author devotes so much time in sharing his talent with us, it has to be rude to give up in the middle. Because of this, I passed up many books for fear that I would be destined to spend a few miserable days slogging through something that did not pique my interest. Unless I knew that I liked the author or someone I trusted recommended the book to me, I didn't give it a try.
Then one day I was speaking with a friend who was raving about a book that I had recently found somewhat dull. She loved every page and couldn't wait for the author's next book. At that moment I realized it is perfectly fine to try a book, find it unreadable and close it before getting to the end. The author will have many readers who are enthralled with his words, and that will give him the impetus to start his next book. This same author will be much happier to see me try his book and not like it, then for me to pass it up for fear that I will be "stuck."
Since coming upon that realization, I have jumped into genres that I never before tried, and I have discovered authors that always scared me off when I felt obliged to finish their books. I have this debate with Arthur constantly. Once he starts a book he says he has to finish it before he will pick up the next book. I have watched him give up reading for months because he chose the wrong book and refused to pick up another until he finished the one he disliked. I used to tell my "I hate reading" students that they needed to keep reading the first three chapters of different books until they found the one that called them back to chapter four. Libraries are great places for a treasure hunt like that one whether you are a child, teenager or an adult. Learn when to turn the page and when to close the book.
I recently realized that life is much like books, and Jameson's quote can help me figuratively as well as literally. There are many things that I have tried and continued in my life because " I am not a quitter." Why? What is wrong with saying enough...I don't want to do this anymore...and then trying something new and exciting. When I left the job that I loved because the politics made it impossible for me, it gave me more time to read and the opportunity to write. When I left the house we built nineteen years ago, it gave me the opportunity to build a different one with new things and the bonus of making new friends. Closing one door can actually give us many openings and change our perspective on life.
In this week's book, Shady Cross by James Hankins, the antihero, Stokes, encounters something that changes him for the better. He is faced with the choice of running with enough ill-gotten money to change his life completely, or saving a child he has never met. You never get to love the man, but you do begin to admire some of his choices. In One to Go by Mike Pace, Tom Booker is faced with an even more daunting choice. Save the lives of four young children by killing five other people of his choice. The alternative is a car crash that kills the four children and adult driver...and oh yeah, one of the children is his daughter.
We all have books to continue with or close...the trick is knowing when to turn that page...or not.