105 Ways to Give a Book

It’s Not You, It’s Me (II)

Lately I’ve reserved Sundays to highlight blog posts that I’ve noticed during the week. But today, I’m just going to mention one. Because honestly, I can’t think of any others after turning my brain to mush watching hours of American Idol while folding umpteen loads of laundry. Did you know that you could actually watch so many episodes in a row that you could make yourself a little sick to your stomach? Neither did I.

Anyway, today Robin Brande really came through for me as she recounted her feeling of being overwhelmed by the mundane (like cleaning) because of time spent blogging. It’s a great conversation in the comments, and I hope other bloggers will stop by and share our little addiction. (Hi. I’m Pam. I’ve been blogging for a year now, and I may have a problem. Hi, Pam!)

But this was the second time Robin made me Think this week (twice in one week!). Lately, she’s been using Friday to ask readers how they took care of themselves during the week. Her way of being nice to herself reminded me of a post I did a long time ago, so I thought I would repost it. Enjoy, Robin and others:

Sometimes you just know that it isn’t working out. Sure, there was an initial attraction, but then... nothing. You’re just bored. Little irritations become big issues. “Who uses the word paradigm anyway?” You fight to stay invested. It may get better. It may be worth all the struggles in the end. But maybe you’re just not in that place now, for something light or something serious or something different. You know you need to make room in your life for something new, but it feels so wrong.

It’s okay to say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” when you’re dumping a book.

You can dump a decent book if it just doesn’t fit you, doesn’t engage you, doesn’t interest you, doesn’t make you want to keep reading. There are too many fish in the sea — or books on the shelves, as it were — to waste time on the wrong one. Even if it’s just the wrong book for you, for now.

I was not always this harsh, this cold. I would read the worst book to the very end, but I would be resentful. I wasn’t enjoying myself, or worse, wasn’t reading at all, stifled with guilt over the book I was avoiding. I had to change. I still find it difficult to let go, but it is getting easier.

Not too long ago I helped a friend get out of a bad book relationship. With a young child, she has limited time to read and was strugging with a book of short stories. We talked about it, and I told her it was time to move on. She took my advice and later confessed what a pleasure it was to finally remove the bookmark from the pages. The relief is like seeing your favorite contestant in the bottom two of American Idol and then she’s sent back to the bench and she’s safe for another week. Or something like that.


Robin Brande said...

This is so funny and true. Thanks for putting your touch on it!

Saints and Spinners said...

I used to finish every book I started, no matter how bad. And then, I became a mommy. I developed a bad case of high-interest/low concentration levels in reading. I don't think it was having a baby that fried me as much as attempting to read books about child-rearing when all I wanted to do was read escapist chapter-books.

lifelongreader said...

Although I don't do this myself, I see it as my duty to see the book through to the last page, I do advise others to give up, put it out of their hands and just walk away.

Usually I suggest that the reader at least try the first chapter, at least, and see then if they want to continue the relationship to another level.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I agree--there's too little time and too many books to be read. Why spend time on something that holds no interest for you?

And thanks so much for the link to Robin's post about being a blogaholic. It was 9:00 p.m. on Sunday when I looked at my husband and told him that I just realized I hadn't taken a shower yet!

Anonymous said...

I've long been an advocate for letting a book go. But I'm feeling bad because often I don't say to the book "it's not you, it's me". Too often I say "It IS you! You are boring and incomprehensible and are driving me to tidy the house rather than read one more chapter!".

But sometimes it is just me and the place I'm in at the time. You have prompted me to try to be nicer to the books I have relationships with in the future!

ElsKushner said...

That was great!

I feel much less guilt about breaking it off with a book since reading what Nancy Pearl says about the matter: that you can give a book 50 pages, and then if it doesn't engage you, go ahead and dump it. But you can subtract 1 page for every year you are over 50. So if you're 55, you only have to read 45 pages.

Magpie said...

But there are some books that bear reading the first 50 pages two or three times, because the fourth time? The book grabs you and runs with it. Of course, plenty aren't worth that kind of effort. The worst are the ones that are great for the first 50-75%, and then peter out. Or just end badly. Oof.