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Saturday
Apr072012

Do you finish books?

I love this article. It's by an actual author talking about whether it matters if a reader reads a book through to the very end.

He starts with the basics, claiming that serious ('mature') readers don't feel self-imposed pressure to read a book to its very last syllable:

"It seems obvious that any serious reader will have learned long ago how much time to give a book before choosing to shut it. It’s only the young, still attached to that sense of achievement inculcated by anxious parents, who hang on doggedly when there is no enjoyment. “ (from Why Finish Books)

Agreed.

He then gets into much subtler ground: what the experience is of the author or writer in deciding whether it's time to wrap things up and bring the story (and the book, not always the same thing) to it's conclusion:

"Kafka remarked that beyond a certain point a writer might decide to finish his or her novel at any moment, with any sentence; it really was an arbitrary question, like where to cut a piece of string, and in fact both The Castle and America are left unfinished, while The Trial is tidied away with the indecent haste of someone who has decided enough is enough.“ (from Why Finish Books)

The article has several other neat scenarios and examples and ends with this, from the point of view of the author himself:

"And finally I wonder if it isn’t perhaps time that I learned, in my own novels, to drop readers a hint or two that, from this or that moment on, they have my permission to let the book go just as and when they choose." (from Why Finish Books)

If you like reading, you will like reading this article!

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