In fact, I’m a darned impatient reader. I probably abandon nearly half the books I start. I know I ought to be more selective, but if the writer hasn’t sold me by around page 100, I tend to give up.
Actually, there’s another table we can make here: those people who peek ahead in a book, and those who don’t. I’m definitely a non-peeker. My sister, on the other hand, can’t read a book front to back–she always cheats and peruses the ending long before she’s reached it.
Over the past couple of weeks I’d been chipping away at Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac Mccarthy. It’s been on our bookshelf for, like, a decade, and I knew that it was well-regarded, so I gave it a shot.
Alas, over the past couple of days, I could feel that familiar deceleration that occurs when a book goes from being a joy to a chore. The camel’s back broke last night, and I recognized something about myself. It’s rather obvious, but I’ve never noticed it before: the last thing I do before tossing a book aside is peak ahead, skim some pages and see what’s going on. And remember, I’m a non-peeker.
Why do I do this? Really, if I’ve read a hundred pages or so, are things likely to radically change in the next two hundred? It’s like a final, desperate stab at wanting to like the book. I wonder if this last peek has actually ever prolonged my time with a given book?