11.03.2010

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.

Oy.

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

3 comments:

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.