>I’m quite enjoying The Rights of the Reader, the new Candlewick edition of Daniel Pennac’s Comme un Roman, first published here as Better than Life, and I have been pondering Right No. 3, “The Right Not to Finish a Book.” Here as elsewhere, Pennac’s aphoristic style puts the ooh-la-la in Gallic shrug:
So the book falls from your hands?
Well, let it fall.
Some people can’t stand to not finish a book, which has never been my problem. But I notice I am now more likely to . . . drift away from a book that’s giving me problems, pretending I’ll get back to it someday. Sometimes I find that even my best intentions are defied by the sudden impenetrability of a book I had been thoroughly enjoying but for one reason or another put down. Too much time has passed, peut-être. What was a fun summer read seems vapid in the cool light of hiver. But there is always the problem of giving up too soon: one hundred pages of slogging through the opening days of the Spanish Civil War (which is always hard to keep straight in the first place) put me off C. J. Sansom’s Winter in Madrid but Richard just emailed to tell me that the next four hundred pages totally redeem the slow start (he retrieved the book from my I’ll-get-back-to-it stack, where it was placed right under The Likeness, which defeated me two-thirds of the way through).
I’m curious to know what rules other people out there might have for Giving Up. (And Fessing Up: how much of a book do you have to have read in order to say that you read it?)