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What is it about me that won’t allow me to leave a book unfinished, even if the book is boring or badly written?  Part of it is that I just have to see how the story ends.  Part of it is that when I read a book, I’m not just experiencing the story, I am having a conversation with the author.  Someone went to a lot of time and effort to get this book into print.  They have something to say, and I want to show them the courtesy and respect of hearing what they have to say.  For we human beings need to be heard, to be acknowledged.  Yet should I finish every single book that I happen to pick up because the cover looked interesting or the blurb caught my attention?  I have a stack of books by my bed that have bookmarks a third of the way through or half way through them, and there they sit because I am unwilling to let them go.   Perhaps I’ll be in the mood for this one another day, I think.  For we do get in the mood for certain books.  Sometimes I want an adventure or a mystery or philosophy.  Sometimes nothing will do but a romance.  I can’t just eat a diet of fantasy.
But what do I do with all these books?  It’s not as if the authors will even know I’ve started them, unless it happens to be a friend who asks me to read one of her stories.  Sometimes I can say to myself, No, you are going to stop reading this book because it’s not good for you.  Or, this one really is a waste of time.  Or, I’ll check it out of the library again if I’m interested.  The truth is, not all the books I read deserve five stars (though you wouldn’t know it from my on line Goodreads library – but that’s because I’ve only listed my favorites, not the ones that went down in smoke).  Another truth:  I can’t read all the books in the world (though I probably would if I could) — there simply isn’t enough time.  So I have to pick out the ones that look interesting, and then if I don’t like them, I need to have the courage to pull out the bookmark, close the book, and say, “I’m not going to read you anymore.  I don’t like you.  Goodbye.”  And that is a very hard thing to do.  I know what it’s like to put your heart and soul into writing a story, to spend weeks and months writing and creating, and then to have someone tell you that your book is drivel.  it’s very disheartening.  (I admit, I have taken books back to the library unfinished.  I’ve thrown books across the room because I was mad at the ending.  I’ve even thrown books in the trash (gasp!) because they made my soul sick.  There are bad books.  But they are the exceptions.)
So, I’m not going to make a very good book critic.  If I like a book, I will say so.  If I don’t, it will sit gathering dust on my shelf, half read.  Eventually I will finish it, and I’ll try to find something good to say about it.  We are all on this journey together, and praise and encouragement are needed much more than destructive criticism.  I fear that the shelf beside my bed is going to continue to be piled with books.  Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing after all.

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