The Permission to Quit

On Goodreads, I’ve set up a “stopped-halfway” bookshelf for titles that I read the beginning but lost interest somewhere in the middle. I don’t keep such a shelf because I plan to read any of the books again in the future. The shelf serves as a reminder that it’s ok to give up on certain things.

I’ve always been into reading since I was a kid. The type of books that I like has however changed a lot through the years. When I was very young, I read Chinese fiction about heroes and their beautiful girlfriends – the Chinese version of James Bond. Then, I went through a phase of reading Alexandre Dumas’ historical novels. He is still my favourite author of all times but I haven’t picked up any of his books for years.

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I used to read a few favourites again and again, like the three musketeers or Wuthering Height. But I don’t relive the story of my favourite books anymore. I feel like I don’t have the time. In the last few years, I am always behind on books I should read because they are bought for me as presents or they are recommended to me as some must-read materials. Then there are so many web articles about how to improve my career, how to manage a life abroad and etc. Sometimes I feel suffocated because no way I can read through all the texts whose title either teases out my curiosity or screams at me for its significant benefits for my personal development.

I love written words so much that I am carving out a writing career right now. The joy of reading a well-written article or a page turner is far more satisfying than eating a Magnum ice cream or sipping a glass of Port. But I can’t help feeling that reading has become more an obligation than a guilty trip to a fantasy world, which really should not be the case.

So a while back, I set up the “stopped-halfway” bookshelf and  today, I added “This Changes Everything” there. Naomi Klein’s book is the book about climate change and environmental movements. Pushing through all doom and gloom, I hoped to find out about different things for an individual like me to do so we can turn the tide against the very bleak of a future facing the human kind. But I just can’t muster the strength to keep reading it because pages after pages, it is just soul destroying. Maybe I’ll look for other ways to get my answer  but for now, I am just gonna quit it.

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