Giving up: Know when to fold ’em

Thursday, November 29, 2018 Permalink

I had nothing prepared for today’s ‘lovin life link-up’. It’s ridiculous that I only HAVE to do one non-bookish post a week and I struggle to find something to write about.

Well, in reality I find it hard to think of something WORTH writing about, cos it’s not like there’s nothing on my mind! I’m reminded of a quote from a book I should be reviewing (more on that to come), and the lead character (when still a boy) is told he’s got “too many thoughts swimming around in too small a head.”

The book review is one of the reasons I’m struggling this week. Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton was released in the middle of this year but I didn’t receive it for review. Everyone raved about it though (and Dalton writes feature pieces for a newspaper and I like his work) so I decided I SHOULD read it before finishing my ‘Favourite books of 2018’ blog post.

And I loved it, so it’ll definitely make my list. But – like so many books I really really love – I’m having trouble writing the review. I think I worry (on those occasions) that I won’t do the book justice. So I’ve sat down at my desk daily for 5-6 days now, to write the review… and a few minutes later I get up and go and flop on my bed. #rinserepeat

giving up

It occurred to me only this morning that this was not a book I received from a publisher. No one is expecting the review. There are no expectations full stop. Just my own. (And therein lies the problem.)

This has been marinating around in my mind since I read a discussion on a Facebook forum about books yesterday.

Do you keep reading even if you dislike the book?  Someone asked.

There was a discussion and debate about a sense of obligation. Or reading 10% or 50 pages. At least giving it a go.

I’m of the ‘give it a go’ school myself cos I’ve often read books which have started slowly but improve. However… I know myself well enough to know that IF I am struggling with a book (or blog post / book review in this case) I will do everything humanly possible to avoid it.

An unenjoyable book means I don’t want to read at night. If a book sits there for days and days and I’m only part-way through, unless my social life is hectic, it’s an indication I should probably give up and put it aside.

Very occasionally I’ll come back to it. In fact Donna Tartt’s The Secret History took me three or four attempts.

There are so many articles reminding us that ‘life is short’. We’re told to ditch the toxic friends, the toxic thoughts. Pursue pleasure (well, within limits obvs).

And yet – though it’s something I whole-heartedly support – I’m not great at doing it in all aspects of my life.

So… (after this morning’s pondering) the book review is being shelved for the moment. I’ve got another I need to review and haven’t been allowing myself to do more reading UNTIL my reviews are up to date. (And yes I know… so many SHOULDS in my world.)

As an aside, I suspect the moment I take pressure of myself re the problematic review I’ll probably want to do it!

Are you good at giving up on something when you know it’s for the best? 

The Lovin’ Life team also includes:

  • Lydia C. Lee
    November 29, 2018

    I think for a number of reasons we don’t like to give up. Usually self made rules or fear of regret. I’m not sure where I stand. However, I have liked when other people have given me permission to give up. That takes quite a load off. Interesting post.

    • Debbish
      November 29, 2018

      Oh yes, getting ‘permission’ is always helpful. I’m a bit the same in the opposite way too… I’m sometimes more able to do something if someone ‘forces’ me to do it. (I often tell my mother she has to visit and MAKE me go to Bunnings or do certain chores I avoid!)

  • Jo
    November 29, 2018

    I tend to try and finish everything – including books I’m not enjoying…but then it annoys me when it gets in the way of me doing something else. I don’t review books I didn’t enjoy though – mainly because unless the editing is sloppy or the story disjointed the problem is with me ie the mood I’m in or something that’s outside my genre. If that’s the case I don’t like punishing the author because something isn’t to my taste…but I do usually finish. Having said that, if someone told me I didn’t have to – finish, that is – I’d be pretty thrilled.

    • Debbish
      November 29, 2018

      I used to try to finish everything and it was only a few years ago I realised I could put a book aside. I obviously don’t review those books. That’s also why I tend not to request books outside of my favourite genres. I’d read science fiction and go… “Oh my god that was soooo unbelievable…” which of course it’s supposed to be – so best I stay away from those types of books!

  • Kate W
    November 29, 2018

    I always struggle to write reviews of books I LOVED… it’s hard to capture why something makes you feel good (and far easier to identify what we don’t like if we ‘hate’ a book) – which leads me to wonder, are we/I better at articulating what’s not working in my life than what is?

    • Debbish
      November 30, 2018

      Good point Kate. I suspect I am – I don’t notice the good, but notice the bad… occasionally noting the exceptional. I’m usually the same re books. I only notice the actual ‘writing’ when it’s really bad or really good. Otherwise it does its job and is a conduit through which the story unfolds.

  • leannelc
    November 29, 2018

    I think one of the biggest benefits of not making money on my blog is that I’m not tied to any commitments in my writing. At least with this book you can put it on the back burner for a while and then inspiration will strike before you know it. When you have the pressure of time constraints then it really starts to stress you out. Chill out and your reviewing muse will be back before you know it 🙂

    • Debbish
      November 30, 2018

      The moment I put that review aside Leanne I did two others yesterday. So was able to read a new book last night! Yay!

  • Jodie
    November 30, 2018

    It’s not often that I give up on a book, but it’s happened. There are so many that are enjoyable, so unless I’m reading it for book club, I will give up!

    • Debbish
      November 30, 2018

      Ah yes… of course, when we’re “set” certain reads it can be challenging. I actually remember NOT reading a couple of books we were supposed to read for school because I just couldn’t get through them. And I was a good kid so would not normally do something like that.

  • Natalie
    November 30, 2018

    If a book or a movie doesn’t hold my interest, I give myself X amount of minutes to read or watch a little bit more. If it still doesn’t grab me, I’ll give up the book or leave the movie early.

    • Debbish
      November 30, 2018

      I’ve never left a movie early – though I don’t go much nowadays. I’ve ditched a few TV shows on Netflix that I’ve planned on binge-watching when they didn’t grab me. Maniac was a recent one… I realise sometimes a show gets better, but – life’s short!

  • Sydney Shop Girl
    December 6, 2018

    I’m in the give it a go camp, especially if I paid for the book. But I only give a book two goes before giving up on it. Sometimes I return to a book weeks after I started it and just hit that groove where I want to keep on reading it. So looking forward to all the reading I will get through this summer.

    SSG xxx

    • Debbish
      December 7, 2018

      Oh yes if I’ve bought a book I’ll hang in there as long as possible, but otherwise I’ll give it 50 pages or so usually.

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