There’s one thing you learn from reading a lot: how and when not to read.
I’m not talking about the appropriate times to read a book or details on the literal process. No, what I’m getting at is recognizing that you can put a book down, that you can say no to a text, that you can choose to say “You know what? I’m done with this.”
That is my biggest advice for readers and people who want to read more: if you are having trouble with a book or simply don’t like it, put it down. You don’t have to finish it. It’s as simple as that!
I tell this people all the time and they look at me like I just gave them a key to a literary universe. We don’t often talk about this and, for whatever reason, we need permission to find what we like in reading. Like anything, it’s all about point of view. Figure out what kind of books you like and run with them.
Until two years ago, I finished everything, no matter how grimly. Then I realised I didn’t have to – I felt giddy and guilty the first time I did it, like I was getting away with something – and have been abandoning them ever since, most recently The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.
I didn’t need my idol to agree in order to stop reading some books (Most recently? A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride and Baracuda Christos Tsiolkas.) but it certainly validated the urgency to move on to the next thing.
Pick up a book! Put it down if you don’t dig it. Pick up another book! And keep going until you find something you dig.