Books Are Not Broccoli

When I headed a book club at my kids’ school the other week, one of the children said to me defiantly, “I don’t like this book.”

I said, “That’s OK, there are a lot of books I don’t like.”

He blinked at me, surprised. You mean it’s allowed to not like a book?

Not every book is a text book. Not every one a should.

My sister once said that once she turned 40 she felt she didn’t need to finish a book she didn’t like anymore.

I say we should start earlier.

I remember several years ago hearing the Children’s Laureate saying there should be a bill of rights saying no child should be forced to read a book he or she finds boring. No wiser words to my mind have ever been said.

There are zillions of books.  (Believe me, ever since I got into this business I’ve become painfully aware of how many books there are). Why waste your time or energy on something that does not click.

In my case, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, has been recommend to me several times. Even given to me as a present by one fervent admirer (of Marilynne not of me). And I know, I know, it’s beautiful, mesmerizing, poetic. Well, I can’t get through it. In fact, it’s so poetic and mesmerizing and beautifully-written, it makes me urp.

I’m now supposed to read it for my book group. So I’ll give it another shot.

But if I still can’t get into it after 50 pages, that’s it. I give up. As I told the little boy, it’s OK not to like some books. Even if everyone else seems to.

Books are not broccoli. They are chocolates. You don’t like the cherry filled one? You spit it out and chose another one.

photo by samie.shake (flickr)

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Books Are Not Broccoli

  1. That’s it. Every time someone tells me they don’t like reading I wonder if the problem is reading or if the problem is just not finding a match yet. Most of the time, if you introduce them to something different they suddenly find a desire to read like never before.
    Thanks for sharing this story.

  2. Miranda

    Absolutely agree! My life is full of half-finished books. I used to think it was because I was a flaky person with no resolve. Now I know it’s just that the book(s) just didn’t grab me! Freedom from book tyranny! Now bring on freedom from feeling you have to go out and ‘make the most of’ a sunny Summer day!

  3. ninakillham

    Cassandra, you have a great blog on writing. I suggest anyone who is interested in writing check it out!
    cassandrajade.wordpress.com

  4. Oddly enough I was just talking about this with a friend yesterday! Miranda – I will now use “Freedom from book tyranny” as my phrase of the month 🙂

  5. Nanna

    I agree!
    Among my resolutions when I turned 70 was to waste no more time on books that don’t grab me within the first twenty or so pages. I’ve decided that I’ve only got a limited amount of book-reading left in me, considering my age and eyesight, so I will dedicate the time I have left to the joys of reading writers who give me pleasure, or teach me something new. Thirty books a year x 10 or perhaps 20 years? Not a lot of books! And I have a sense of urgency about all those books that I’ve meant to read but haven’t yet tackled. I haven’t time left for rubbish!
    There is a certain degree of tyranny in belonging to a book club – others in the group look at me askance when I declare that I didn’t finish the set book, as though it’s my beholden duty to read every word, regardless.
    My advice?
    Keep reading, folks, but don’t persist when interest fades.

  6. lisa knaggs

    years ago, when visiting a handsome mountain man with a cabin full of books I exclaimed “Wow, have you read them all?” “All of some, and some of all!” he replied. I’ve felt liberated ever since!

  7. I give a book 75 pages, but 50 is sounding more appropriate when there is so much too read. Love the title of this post…best to you~

    amandaswrinkledpages.com

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