My parents always taught me to finish what I start, and this is general advice that I’ve always tried to follow. Sometimes, however, trying to follow this advice can be difficult when reading a bad book. No matter what, if I start a book I try my best to finish it. In fact, over the years I’ve suffered through a number of boring, doctrinally questionable, or poorly written books because my desire to finish what I start continually hounds my mind. But the more that I’ve reflected on this tendency of mine, the more I’ve decided to relent.
Generally speaking, we should try to read books from cover to cover. I often find that some of a book’s best parts can be in the preface, acknowledgements, footnotes, or appendices—in other words, in the places where you might not expect to find interesting information. On the other hand, I also look at the growing mound of books that I have gathered in the various nooks and crannies of my office and home and I’ve begun to realize, life is too short for bad books. Sure, there is bad reading that you must do—like the owners manual to the new tool that you’ve bought or a technical manual for work. In my own vocation I have to read large manuals on academic accreditation processes—not exactly page-turners. But I must read these things. Ok, fair enough. But there are other books that I find dreary or simply irrelevant for my present interests, such as the latest hot-selling theology book, which is actually lukewarm, or a novel that everyone tells me is a must-read but I found absolutely mind-numbing. In these cases, I’ve decided to put the book down and move on. Yes, I’ll admit, I have a bit of guilt when I do this, but in the end, I believe the time that I gain so I can read something more relevant, interesting, or informative is well worth ignoring the rest of a bad book.
Life’s short—don’t waste your time on bad books!