The Happiness Project

A chronicle of my attempts to test-drive every tip, principle and scientific study that promotes happiness

Now I Stop Reading a Book If I Don’t Enjoy It—Do You?

I decided to set myself a new habit

One of the most important elements of my identity is my identity as a reader. I love to read–really, if I’m honest with myself, it’s practically the only activity that I truly love to do.

As part of that identity, I’d developed the habit of finishing every book I read. Once I started, I felt committed. A “real” reader like me finishes books and also gives authors the benefit of the doubt (“maybe this book will get better after the first 50 pages”). Right?

But I realized that I was spending a fair amount of my precious reading time reading books that didn’t really interest me. I’d finish these just because I felt as though I “should” and for the bragging rights of being able to say that I’d read them.

I decided to set myself a new habit: Stop reading a book if I don’t enjoy it. (I consider getting valuable information from a book as a form of “enjoyment,” even if I don’t particularly enjoy the experience of reading it.)

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I’ve put down several books over the last few weeks–and it is such a relief. More time for reading good books! Less time reading books out of a sense of obligation.

Do you feel as though once you start a book, you must finish? Or do you put down books half-read? I’ve heard speculation that using an e-reader makes people more likely to stop reading a book. Do you find that to be true?

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Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier.

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