Of late, I haven’t been able to finish the books that I don’t like. Usually I take the time and the energy and effort to plot through books even if they haven’t exactly excited me. And sometimes I have been rewarded for it. However, nowadays I don’t even try to push the boredom barrier.
Earlier, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of books I had left unfinished – exactly one. That was Gita Hariharan’s ‘When Dreams Travel.’ I love revisionist writing but this one I had to give up midway. The Post Colonial ride this book was taking me on was inducing boredom at an alarming rate. I still shudder to think of that book with its pink cover. That was of course years back.
In the past few years, I have noticed that I left countless books midway merely because I haven’t the energy or the time to push myself to do one more thing that I don’t want to do. I’d rather watch an enjoyable film or even stare out the window than look at the book which does not enthuse me.
Is this a problem that is peculiar to me or my decreasing patience levels? I wanted to find out. So I asked two readers who were close by – Rita and Obi Wan – if they faced the same problem. Rita says that she had little patience for books that don’t grab her attention and has always been unable to finish books she didn’t like. Obi Wan has left 4 books midway in the last 6 months. He believes that the value of time in terms of opportunity costs increases as we grow older and busier.
That makes sense. I have a finite amount of time to give to reading. So, why should I spend this finite time on something I don’t like? Why would I do that ever? But that’s possible in an ideal world. Unfortunately, we don’t live in it. Earlier as children or even young adults and even into my 20s, time was an infinite resource and the days appeared long and also we didn’t have so many things clambering for our attention.
Today I have to fit my reading into what Umberto Eco calls ‘interstices’. (Thanks Asuph for bringing my attention to this beautiful idea! Do read his take on living the interrupted life.) I confess I cannot fit it in while say waiting for the elevator, which is the example Eco gives, but in between I do read before starting work, during lunch time and before going to bed. Perhaps as years go on, I will perfect this art as Eco did and can actually finish a blog post/poem/outline of a book while waiting for the elevator! Right now, I am writing in the middle of my work day by ignoring work completely. What’s the best part about that? I don’t have a shred of guilt.
*Perhaps I should write about Blogging Interrupted next?