On average, reading for fun is about 160+ books a year. Reading for work, which includes stuff I read for editing, proofreading and beta reading, that's another 100+ books a year.
I've learned something along the way when it comes to reading.
I only read what I enjoy and love when I'm reading for fun. I used to be very OCD about finishing what I start but I'm time poor and I have a HUGE TBR (To Be Read) list that is neverending and growing bigger by the day. I don't have the luxury of spending precious minutes on what does not give me pleasure. So now, when I'm reading for fun and the book doesn't engage me, I stop. When I write a review for it, I evaluate whether the DNF (Did Not Finish) I give the book is because it was (1) terrible writing (2) an unengaging story, (3) just something about it that just didn't work for me or finally (4) if the content was just so far outside my comfort zone that I could not stomach it. The point is though, instead of giving into my OCD nature, I have learned to stop reading and spend my time elsewhere because my time is precious.
When I beta read, I try to read within the genre that I'm most familiar with and I enjoy the most for two reasons. (1) I understand the genre, and therefore, am able to better understand what works and what does not work in the author's writing within the specific genre, and (2) I will actually enjoy it more and not unjustly be too critical of it because it is outside of my comfort zone.
There are some authors that I really enjoy and I will beta read for them from book to book whenever they ask me to as they have new books written. I find that a pleasure to do.
As I beta read more and more, having authors seek me out to do it for them though, I am finding that quite often I come across something that just does not work for me. It's too dark, it's supposed to be in a genre I like but it's not written that way, or I just plain old don't like it., it's well written but the subject matter just doesn't grab me. I used to put in a huge effort to beta read through everything that I get sent, and I try to be objective and do the piece of work justice, however, now I am finding that if it doesn't work for me, I need to stop. It is unfair on me and unfair on the author if I continue. Beta reading is free and I don't get paid to be miserable through a 300 page manuscript, unlike editing or proofreading. And it's unfair on the author because I'm negatively predisposed to it for whatever reason and my criticism is harsher than it should be.
For example, I recently had to stop reading what the author called a paranormal romance, which on the surface of it is right up my alley. However, the piece turned out to be dark, tortured and depressing along the way to it's paranormal happy ever after. Not my thing. I don't read dark and tortured. There's enough of that in real life that I don't need it in my reading life. I struggled with myself but finally decided that I had to stop reading it. I was doing the author an injustice. Her writing was good, but because of the content, I just could not get into it. It is better when that happens to just stop reading, give the author some really honest feedback about why you had to stop reading and encourage her to find others who will be better inclined to read it for her to provide more positive feedback. The hardest part about this is telling the author, of course. I always feel so bad about it but to date, all the authors I've told have been very gracious and understanding about it. In fact, a lot of them say right up front, if it's not your cup of tea, don't keep reading.
For editing and proofreading though, I get paid to do it. I edit and proofread both fiction and non-fiction. Sometimes the subject matter just doesn't work for me but I soldier on. I'm getting paid and it's the job. It pays the rent. I've edited business reports, annual reports, prospectuses, newsletters, manuals, non-fiction books on various subject matters and fiction as well. I find it all challenging for various reasons but I keep going. When you are getting paid to do a job, you just don't get the luxury of picking and choosing only to do the fun stuff. You do what needs to be done to get through it and you persevere.
The whole point of this post? It doesn't matter what you are doing, whether it's reading or some other activity, if it's not enjoyable, taking up too much time or harming you, STOP. Spend your time in other pursuits that are more rewarding.
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