Quitting is for quitters

As recently noted on twitter/facebook, I have a curious inability to stop reading a book even if I don’t like it. In this case it was the irritatingly tedious “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood. I knew after about 100 pages that I wasn’t really going to enjoy it very much, and yet I couldn’t just stop part way through and leave it. Maybe it would get better? Maybe, even if the overall quality remained low there would be one or two interesting bits that would make it worthwhile? I can only remember ever giving up on a book once, when I was in my early teens and I tried to read Thomas Hardy’s “The Mayor of Casterbridge” (must try it again sometime soon).

And yet this attitude is reversed when it comes to film and TV. Despite the fact that it’ll probably take me less time to watch one season of a TV series than it would to read a chunky novel, I’m very quick to decide that a drama isn’t worth my time. This despite that fact that I’ve watched a few series which took one or even two seasons to really get into.

It’s not snobbery. I don’t assume that a book is by definition bound to be more worthwhile and nourishing than a TV drama. And yet if I dropped a novel without finishing it I’d always be wondering what I’d missed out on. Maybe the second half is really good? Not all stories have to be attention-grabbing and exciting right from the start, do they? Maybe I just have to eat my vegetables before I’m rewarded with dessert?