Not too long ago I was able to boast that there was only one book that I had started reading and hadn’t finished. I took pride in being able to persevere no matter how dense, how challenging, how boring— except for Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
Unfortunately, those days are long past. Lately I have quit reading more books than I have finished. Hell, I often find myself quitting a magazine article if it gets too long — though I blame that on my iPhone’s small screen and the infinite scrolling required to read long articles.
It would be nice to believe that quitting books after beginning to read them is the result of improved taste, that over the years I’ve become more “discerning.” After all, I tell myself, someone who has read as much as I have must have developed better taste than my younger self had. Perhaps that accounts for some of the books that sounded good when I read a review but didn’t seem to live up to the review as I read them. Still, I find it hard to reconcile that excuse that with the fact that I still waste hours watching excruciatingly bad television shows or spend hours playing Solitaire on my computer while listening to music.
Perhaps my many electronic devices are contributing to the problem. Overall, I suspect I read almost as much as I used to, though, perhaps, not as much as I did when I was in college
What I fear most is that not having the will, the determination, to finish every book I start with is simply one more sign of old age. Since nothing else seems to function quite as well as it used to, why wouldn’t my brain change, too? I certainly can’t run a 6 minute mile in combat boots anymore, why should I be able to finish a long book that I don’t feel compelling? If that’s the case, will it become harder and harder to read an entire book?
Will I be forced to rely on flower photos, scenics, or bird shots as an excuse to post on this site?
Oh wait, I’ve already been doing that for nearly a year now, haven’t I? Not too long ago Mike emailed and wondered when I was going to post something on poetry again. I told him I was having trouble finding a poetry book that I could finish, much less write something about.