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My Own Worst (Book) Critic

The Buzz Bin

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I've always loved reading. Throughout childhood, I devoured books in rapid succession, eager to get to the end and move on to the next title on my shelf. Time was nearly limitless, and books were a consistent answer to boredom and loneliness as a kid living in a rural area.

Back then, I read endlessly without much judgement, while sticking to genres I'd grown fond of early on. I don't distinctly recall deeply disliking any books I read.

Not anymore.

Now, I'm lucky if I read more than two books in a month. (The average American reads 12 a year, according to Pew). My reading list perpetually grows, but between other interests and the responsibilities of adulthood, time to get lost in another world is scarce. As such, I now choose titles carefully, reading reviews, talking to friends and sticking to authors whose work I know.

But even this rigorous vetting has proven itself unreliable in many instances. (It's the same with films, TV, games and other forms of consumable entertainment.)

When, and why, did I become so picky? Am I really a book snob? Or just a well-read adult with more discerning tastes?

While I never before would have thought of setting down a book until the last word of the last page, I've done so several times lately, even returning a briefly-started ebook on my Kindle. The act makes me feel guilty — like I didn't give an author enough of a chance to hook me, or that I wasn't opening my mind enough to want to read something outside of my fall-back genres.

Now I find "book-quitting" a thing of freedom. I accept that it's not me being a literary "snob," or a bad friend if I don't like a book someone told me they thought I would. Everyone has different tastes, and criteria for their time's value.

I recently read an article published last year on Literary Hub headlined "How Many Books Will You Read Before You Die?" According to this, as a 30-year-old female with a self-proclaimed "voracious" reading level, I'll read approximately 2,800 more books in my remaining projected lifespan.

See? There's little time left — certainly not enough to waste it reading something I don't enjoy. ♦

The original print version of this article was headlined "My Own Worst (Book) Critic"

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