Like a rat with a book

I started reading a book (that will remain nameless - you'll see why) a couple weeks ago. It's from a series I usually enjoy and gets a 4.5 star rating at amazon.com.

My take?

I've struggled through 50 pages and have no inclination to pick it back up again. Ever.

Logically, I would return it to the library, choose something else, and get on with my life. Instead, I marked my page, put it aside, and ... haven't read anything for nearly two weeks.


I did this without thinking of course. For me, starting a book - especially a well reviewed one like this - creates a compunction to finish it. Same with movies. A movie has to be truly offensive for me to stop partway through (I'm looking at you Natural Born Killers).

One might say I have relentless optimism, always assuming that something is just about to get good if only I'd stick it out a little longer. One might also say I have a failure to learn because seriously, how many books get better after 50 or 100 pages? Or movies after the 45 minute mark?

A few do. And therein lies the problem.

Psychologists will tell you that animals don't manage these situations any better than I do. Unpredictable rewards are a sure way to get a rat or a dog or a Vegas gambler to do more and more of what you want.

Somehow that doesn't make me feel better.

So will I weigh things logically, put the book aside, and move onto something I'll enjoy more?

Of course! Right after the next chapter ...

Skinner box diagram courtesy of Andreas1


Craig Miyamoto said...

Oh, I empathize. I've stopped reading a couple of books and felt so doggone guilty when I cast it aside, thinking of all the work the author went through to write the book.

And then I think. Oh hell, who cares anyway? LOL.

casch said...

I can recall only 2 books (they will remain nameless because I can't recall the names!) Anyway, I'm like you, I keep thinking it will get better. (And I felt the same about Natural Born Killers. Couldn't abide it.)

TMC said...

compunction? sounds like something that might need vitamins.