Discussion: Starting vs. Finishing Books

Discussion: Starting vs. Finishing Books

I loved reading Gretchen Rubin’s books because she classifies people into different categories, and I am all about classification. I am a scientist after all. One of her categorizations is Starters vs. Finishers. I am definitely a Finisher. I love finishing a tube of toothpaste. I love wrapping up all of my reads at the end of the month. I love finishing a project at work.

But lately, I’m finding that I keep starting new books. It’s so out of character for me. I mean, I’ve always been someone who was reading more than one book at once, but it used to be just one book of each type – one print book for my night stand at home, one ebook for the Kindle app on my phone, one CD audiobook in my car…you get the idea. Not anymore.

Over the last couple of months, I have found myself starting multiple books of each medium. I have sometimes been “reading” more than 10 books at once. What is going on with me?

After some self-reflection, I’ve come up with two reasons for this new behavior.

1. I am reading for other people.

Since I started writing the Book Club column for Country Woman magazine, I am reading a lot of books I wouldn’t normally have read. I am searching for books that will appeal to the target audience of that magazine – women in their 50s and 60s. News Flash: That is not me. I am trying to find books that appeal to women of all ages, but sometimes I’m also reading books that aren’t meant for a woman my age. So while those books aren’t bad, they’re just not what I always want to be reading. It’s taking me a little longer to get through those books, so I need to also be reading other books at the same time for myself. Ya know?

2. I am not finding books I love.

I also have been reading a lot of good books lately, but not a lot of great books. When I am reading a bunch of so-so books at once, like I am right now, I find myself starting new book after new book trying to find a book that really sucks me in. You know I love to read books with riveting plots and lots of action, so when I have multiple books going that are more character-driven, I just keep hunting for a book that’s truly satisfying. That’s not to say that the other books I’m reading aren’t enjoyable, they’re just not the book I want to grab when I really need to relax or escape.

For both of these reasons, I think I’ve been abandoning books a bit more recently as well. If it’s not right for the Country Woman reader, and I’m not loving it, I don’t feel compelled to finish it. Or if it’s a book I wanted to read for myself, but it’s just not hooking me in, then I’m not feeling obligated to read the whole thing. Unless, I want to say I finished the book, like with Emma earlier this year. Or I really want to write a review because I have a lot to say about the book. Then I’ll push through just to say I read the whole thing. I don’t review books I don’t finish. Do you?

Has this ever happened to you? Maybe this is my version of a reading slump? I don’t know. What do you think?


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  1. This is what a reading slump usually looks like for me. I’m in the exact same situation right now. For me, it usually happens when I start a book from Netgalley and don’t love it, and then a BUNCH of great library books come in at once, so I start one, but really want to be reading another, so I do that too, and I just pick one up depending on my mood. It can be kind of stressful, haha, but it feels great to “finish” 4-5 books over the course of a couple days near the end!! Like you, I feel like this normally only happens with “good” books because if a book is GREAT, I can’t think about anything else until I’m done reading it.

    1. Yes, exactly! I’m glad I’m not the only one. I did just DNF a couple of NetGalley books recently and that felt good. I think my stats are high enough now that I don’t have to force myself to finish everything. Thanks for understanding. 🙂

  2. I’m a “finisher” as well, I would think. I love crossing things off a to-do list; I like a feeling of accomplishment. But – I have no problem not finishing a book. If it’s just not grabbing me, I’ll stop – I don’t want to force myself to finish something I’m not enjoying. Your situation could be a slump or it really just could be you haven’t found something you love right now – I’ve heard more than one blogger, myself included, say that this hasn’t been a stellar reading year. I’ve only had a few books that I truly loved this year.
    Angela recently posted…2017 Blogging Goals Mid-Year Check-InMy Profile

    1. Yeah, perhaps. I feel like I hit good books in waves. They seem to all clump together and then everything else is just a disappointment. I need to keep looking. Luckily, there’s no shortage of books in the world.

    1. Thanks, Jen! I finished The Boy Is Back yesterday, and that was a good one. I just heard from my book club mate that our pick this month is good, so I need to start that next. Maybe tomorrow.

  3. My response is pretty much the same as Angela’s above. While I love checking off “to do” items, I abandon books all the time. I find that if I don’t abandon books that aren’t working for me, I end up not reading at all. I fall asleep faster, I poke around on Facebook instead of reading when I only have 10 minutes, etc. I find the older I get and the more books I read the less tolerance I have for the ones that aren’t working for me.
    Jen Robinson recently posted…The Too-Scary Story: Bethanie Deeney MurguiaMy Profile

    1. Good for you, Jen. I think I need to start DNFing even more. I do find myself still reading, I just keep starting new books. Ha!

  4. Really interesting! I think I’m more of a starter for most things – I love breaking into something new. Finishing books is a great feeling though.

    I’m like you usually, one book per medium and that’s it. I definitely pick up multiple books of the same format if the one I’m already reading just isn’t working for me. I don’t think I’ve ever been reading/listening to more than 5 books at once though!
    Lauren @ Bookmark Lit recently posted…ContRom Challenge Topic: Anticipated ReleasesMy Profile

    1. It’s fun to think about, isn’t it? I love Gretchen Rubin. I can’t wait for her new book. Yeah, I’m kind of out of control right now. Maybe I need to DNF even more. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m getting burnt out. We’ll see.

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