A hard-hearted reader


Word count: 347              Reading time: 1-2 mins.

Recently, as I struggled to read a library book, I found someone’s forgotten bookmark at page 50. I fanned through the rest of the pages, looking for any traces of wear. They were pristine, which should have been a warning. It was a new release and I had waited weeks for it so this sign of early abandonment intrigued me. In spite of that alarm bell I kept reading. Finally I’d invested so much time I refused to put it aside. I finished it.

Victor Hugo said, “Short as life is, we make it even shorter with the careless waste of time.” To me, that book was a waste of time. I should have held to my usual rule: if a plot or character doesn’t grab me in the first half hour it’s time to move on. I won’t let a bad book rob me of precious minutes and hours again.

The other side of this coin is when I fall for a book, I fall hard. I borrow from the library to test-drive literature. When I find something I love, I buy it because I know I’ll want to read it more than once.  

So can I answer that party question: ‘what is your favourite book’? Nope. I can’t even list my five favourite books or authors. Neil Gaiman summarized my feelings when he said, “Picking five favourite books is like picking the five body parts you'd most like not to lose.”

I can list my five favourite books of the past six months, the books I have bought or will buy, because they have transported me to exciting new places, times, and emotions. In no particular order they are; The Fault In Our Stars (John Green), Perfect (Ellen Hopkins), The Winter Palace (Eva Stachniak), Plain Kate (Erin Bow), and All Good Children (Catherine Austen).

Do you have one definitive favourite book or author? What are your criteria for a good read? Are you perseverant with dull books, pushing through to the end even when they don’t enchant? If not, when do you cut your losses?


 Photo by: Tamás Ambrits