“Single Book Seeks Loyal Companion” by Shannon Christine
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve given myself permission to put down any book that isn’t gripping me, holding me fast under its lyrical spell, begging me to turn its pages. “Whoa, back it up for just a second. Not finish a book?” Yes, you read that correctly. “What?! *Gasp!* How could you?” I know, I know. This is crazy talk. What kind of reader gives up on books?
For years, well ok, for my entire life, I would never, ever entertain the idea of quitting on any book, because what if it really started to get good on the next page? Or the next chapter? How will I ever know all of the juicy bits that this novel has waiting for me, if I don’t give it just one more chance? Inconceivable! But, after laboring through these novels, more often than not, I wound up disappointed, looking at the other lonely books on my shelves, eagerly waiting for me. Each one pleading with me and selling their stories on their spines and covers. “Oooh, ooh, pick me,” they cry. “I promise you that I will have you laughing and crying and then laughing all over again.” These books each had their own promises of joy, sorrow and even time travel, and all manners of adventure contained within their pages. “Your time will come, dear ones. I will get to all of you very soon. I swear I will get to you.” This had to be reassuring to these lonely souls on my shelves, patiently waiting for me to bring their stories to life. After all, they didn’t bear any pressures to thrill me, because each of these books knew I was a lot of things, but I wasn’t a Book Quitter. No way. There was not a chance that I would give up on any of them, no matter how boring or disengaging they turned out to be in the beginning, middle or nearing the end.
I went on reading like this for years, slogging along at times, and lucky for me, most books fell into my category of well-liked reads. Some even managed to gain the title of Personal Top Ten. However, I soon came to a shocking realization. If I keep reading like this, how will I ever have time to read all of the novels, waiting for their turn? This wasn’t even including those books that I just had to buy at my favorite bookstores. When is this very soon that I keep telling myself (and the books) ever going to arrive? There had to be a solution. That’s when it struck me. It would be a much better story, if a book bounced its way off my shelf and struck me in the head, quite literally causing my personal epiphany. But that’s an entirely different magical book story. No, this solution is so much simpler than casting a spell or waiting for falling books, and even a Muggle can instantly master this basic trick.
Ok, are you ready for the secret that I am passing along to you, dear reader? Well, it’s quite easy. From that point forward, I gave myself permission to stop reading a book, if there wasn’t some sort of spark propelling me onward. I allowed myself the time and space to decide when to stop reading any particular book, no matter how many pages were finished. Sometimes a novel had me hooked for the first chapters, or even halfway through, only to leave me counting down the pages to the end. As much as it killed me deep down in my reading core, in these moments, I reminded myself that it really is ok to put any novel down in exchange for another book. Each book serves a purpose for its shining moment (no matter how long or brief) in my reading life, and even if it doesn’t wow me, perhaps there is another reader out there who will fall in love with the story. Maybe that book and another reader are meant to find each other.
Whenever I come across a book that is not for me I try every which way to find that story a loving home, another reader who will adopt the tale for me. I don’t want to brag, but I do hold a fairly decent track record because I can readily identify the elements that make me cringe, yet are certain to make another reader swoon. I relish in the moments when a reader reports back to me that she absolutely “couldn’t put that book down,” or “this was not a book I would have picked up, but I was pleasantly surprised.” I pride myself as a Book Matchmaker of sorts and this helps to ease the pain I still feel when I have to part ways with a novel.
But the shame of it is that I haven’t been able to match up all of my quit-worthy books with reading soulmates. These books sit on my shelves, collecting dust and frankly taking up space that could become the new home to my next Top Ten contender. I am patient, though, and I don’t mind, for they each represent a paused story. Each one has been put on hold for a bit, until the right person comes along to take them into his or her home. This might happen in a day, a week, a month, or even a year, but I am willing to wait it out and give the book I broke up with, a fighting chance to find true love out there in the Book Universe. I believe that every story has its own suitable match of a reader out there, and it just takes the right person to place that book into its reading soulmate’s hands.
Shannon Christine is a Secondary English teacher in Bucks County by day, avid Book Matchmaker by night. She is currently writing a YA novel, in between falling in love with her book of the week. Shannon lives with her reading soulmate and two children in the suburbs of Philadelphia, who loves day tripping to Philly, always on the hunt for the quirky side of life. Follow her quests on Twitter: @SVChristine and Tumblr: shannonvarechristine.tumblr.com