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Books Jan_van_Eyck_059 wikicommonsSad to say, but I abandon more books than I finish nowadays.

I simply lose interest in them. I read a few chapters, lay them aside for a few days, and realize: I really don’t care how this end. There’s nothing drawing me to return to the page. Often the book is well-written, has received rave reviews, the characters are strong, and the plot adequate. But it’s not compelling. I’m not sucked into the story. Something is missing, and I’m disappointed. Because I want to be swept away, I want to be dazzled, I want to be moved. But I’m not.

A few of these abandoned books I’ve kept, hoping the timing just wasn’t right. I wasn’t in the mood for this particular book. This has happened before. I’ve abandoned books and returned to them later and loved them. Or I’ve persisted with a book I wanted to abandon but couldn’t because I had an outside inducement to continue (a class I was taking, a book club choice, a friend had recommended, etc.), and then, about half-way through, something is triggered, and I find myself eagerly finishing the book–a book I would have abandoned otherwise.

Here’s a few books I abandoned within the past year but have kept on my shelf, hoping the timing was just off:

  • Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kinglover
  • Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
  • Arcadia, Lauren Groff
  • The Tiger’s Wife, Tea Obreht
  • Wild, Cheryl Strayed

Recent reads I loved and eagerly finished:

  • The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey
  • Mudbound, Hillary Jordan
  • The Round House, Louise Erdrich
  • The Shadow Catcher, Marianne Wiggons
  • Games of Thrones (first three books in the series), George R. R. Martin
  • The Hunger Games (all three in series), Suzanne Collins
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (all three in series), Stieg Larsson

A few I finished with coercion and am glad I did:

  • The Light Between Oceans, M. L. Stedman
  • Claire of the Sea Light, Edwidge Danticat
  • Tinkers, Paul Harding
  • Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson

Books I’m currently reading and on the verge of abandoning:

  • Object Lessons, Anna Quindlen
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz

Books I’m currently reading and am eager to finish:

  • Peace Like a River, Leif Enger
  • Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

Books on my shelf, or in my Kindle, that I’m looking forward to reading:

  • Tenth of December, George Saunders
  • We the Animals, Justin Torres
  • Americana, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Plague of Doves, Louise Erdrich

I don’t know if I’m unusual in doing this, if I’m particularly picky, or if this is fairly common. Do you abandon books? Or do you force yourself to finish them?

Have you read any of these books? What’s been your experience with them?