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On The Resulting Procrastination From Leaving A Book For A While

A photo of a copy of Vanity Fair and a feather duster

I have this issue when it comes to getting back into books I’d been in thrall to but for one reason or another had to set down. When I mentioned it on Twitter, I found I wasn’t alone.

For some reason, going back to a book I was loving seems a chore. And I could have been loving it enough for it to trump Jane Eyre (my favourite for three years now), I will still procrastinate over going back to it. This situation was the major reason it took me so long to become a book polygamist as an adult, because book polygamy had been a feature of my childhood. I got over the procrastination, finally, but it seems it’s reared its head again.

If I wasn’t loving the book it makes sense, so I’ll go no further with that. Otherwise I wonder if it has something to do with our Internet-era short attention spans, which despite constant battles I’ve found I’ve developed. Of course there are times when leaving a book for a while is necessary, but then I ought to want to pick it up once I was free to read again.

Jennifer answered my tweet with a very good point. She said that momentum is easily lost. In many ways that’s worrying as it infers we are shallow, fickle, but then we can be. Jennifer’s words made me wonder if it means my love for the book in question wasn’t real, if I somehow projected onto myself the opinions of others (which is possible, the book I was having trouble with at the time was The Omnivore’s Dilemma which was a recommendation twice over) but considering the little I can say against Pollan’s work this surely cannot be the case. But then perhaps a sort of hype did exist around my enjoyment of the first few chapters that slowly wore off and I was left with a base interest that wasn’t quite strong enough to keep me reading quickly. I don’t know.

My friend Laura said that procrastination is why she makes sure she reads a book in one sitting, which I thought a great idea. And I thought it a poignant statement as Laura has a young son. In many ways I wish I had her reader dedication. But it did make me wonder about longevity. Of course it would be difficult to discuss on a case by case basis before the book has been read, but if it is obvious you’re not going to get through a book without that single sitting (which Laura didn’t suggest – this is my own thought) does that infer the book isn’t worth it? Books are supposed to stay in your mind, if for nothing else then to help you remember the author next time they release a book, but a book you have to read quickly in order to finish, without the sort of firm deadline that comes with study, is surely not quite as worthwhile a use of your time.

Ever since this started happening in earnest I’ve tried to make sure I get back to a book. I don’t want to return to being the ten year old with as many books as her age on her currently reading list. But I thought it something that should be discussed, questioned, and referred to others.

So, do you ever find yourself procrastinating over current half-read reads you were enjoying, and do you have a method you use to combat it?



August 19, 2013, 8:09 am

I don’t think I’m going to be much use to you. As I can’t say I’ve found myself in this situation. I rarely read more that one novel at a time either. I tend to read one novel till I finish then start another one. I am trying to keep more a selection of reading going at the same time though so maybe this might be a problem for me if I succeed with that.

Rebecca @ Love at First Book

August 19, 2013, 5:27 pm

Sometimes I do procrastinate. Other times I realize now is not the time for this book but I’ll get it later. Other times I “assign” myself the task of reading x amount of pages per day just to get through it. It kind of depends.


August 19, 2013, 6:23 pm

If I have to put a book down for a long period of time, I tend to go back to it from the beginning which lessons the not wanting to read it at all feeling. Generally though this is why I don’t read several books at a time, I can’t concentrate.

If there is a short period of time between putting it down and picking it up I attribute this to me not enjoying the way the novel progressed and not being that interested by how it finishes. I force myself to get in a few pages and if it picks up great, if it doesn’t it is one to leave and start a new book.

I don’t think it makes us fickle or shallow if our opinions change from putting a book down to picking it up again. Emotions fade with time and an intense feeling you had on leaving a book is not going to be there when you pick it up again, I find it changes to a dull longing.


August 20, 2013, 4:37 am

I just had this experience. I picked up The Moonstone after having read half and then abandoned it back in March. I found that I had to go back and re-read certain parts that I had forgotten in order to understand what I was reading. Not ideal.
I read multiple books at once and can’t seem to stick to one at a time. I wish I could, though, because I have left many books unfinished and it just seems such a waste.

Audra (Unabridged Chick)

August 20, 2013, 3:21 pm

Oh, I get SUCH book inertia sometimes. Really, if a day or two go by, I lose such interest — which is why I tend to power through books in multi-night readathons. (It helps I don’t have a kid.) Especially review books — stuff I pick for personal reading I can stick to, usually because if I wasn’t into it, I’d DNF it sooner, but review books I feel like I need to try a little harder with.

Laurie C

August 24, 2013, 12:29 am

This happens to me sometimes, mostly with books that are harder and require more concentration than I’m used to these days! Or that are nonfiction (not my fave). I usually avoid it by not starting them in the first place! ;)



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