Why Your Time Was Not Wasted On That Book You Didn't Finish

I recently read a book that was interesting and I was finding value in it but roughly halfway through, I lost interest.

Now to be clear, the book wasn’t the problem. This was all me. And I couldn’t figure out why. The book started off great; I had been enjoying it, and I was learning things. So what the heck happened?

 You don’t have to finish every book.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had this issue. It’s not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen.

Usually, I keep pushing forward, a page here, a page there. Because, while I will tell you there are too many good books in the world for you force yourself through a book you’re not enjoying, I have problems following my own advice.

Then one afternoon, while scrubbing out the bathtub (of all things), it occurred to me—what if I didn’t need to finish the book? What if I had learned the lessons I was intended to learn from that book? And having absorbed the lesson, the universe was telling me to move on?

If this sounds out there, hang with me. The idea that God, the Universe, or Fate is that involved in my reading life feels woo-woo to me, too.

But I wouldn’t completely discount the idea either.

Either way, is it necessary to finish a book for it to have value?

You can see from the picture that I found lots of things to take notes on. What was to be gained by pushing on, reading a book I was no longer enjoying? Do we have to absorb ALL the ideas in a book for the book to be of value?

I don’t think so. First, it’s way too easy to read a book and then not apply any of what we’ve learned. I’d guess that implementing what we’ve learned is a problem for many of us. So if you read a book and act on even one thing you’ve read, you’re ahead of the game.

Second, don’t you think an author would rather you take away one big idea from his/her book and be excited and ready to use that idea than for you to keep reading and be “meh” about the book?

Third, what if the universe was telling me something? What if I had learned the lesson I needed, and it was time to move on to another book?

(Caveat—if a book is about a system, you likely need to read the book in its entirety and implement all the steps for you to get the desired results. But that’s not what I’m discussing here.)

Francis Bacon said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” (Bolding mine.)

So if you find yourself in a similar position of not wanting to finish a book, I give you permission to quit the book. In fact, I insist on it.

By the way, the book I was reading was Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons From The Greatest Self-Made Business Icons by Lewis Schiff. I recommend you check it out. Some ideas are counter-intuitive. Reading Business Brilliant will make you aware of your where mindset is and any changes you need to make in your thinking.

And the big lesson I learned from the book? The one that was my A-Ha moment?

 “… about 7 in 10 middle-class respondents agreed that ‘cutting back expenditures to help accumulate wealth’ is important to their financial success. About the same number cited ‘cutting back on little luxuries’ as being important... Self-made millionaires, though, take the extreme opposite view... To self-made millionaires, financial success is achieved by increasing what comes in, not restricting what goes out. Savings are a fine thing, but those who have gotten wealthy didn’t get there by saving."

Huge mindset shift for me. Focus on bringing more in.

What are your thoughts on not finishing books? What book have you learned from even if you didn’t finish the book? Let me know in the comments.