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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Economics of Reading

One day I was talking with Britt's friend Stephen about a book I was reading. I was telling him that I wasn't really enjoying it, but felt the need to finish it anyway. He looked at me and said, "That's bad economics."


I took one economics course in college and not much of it stuck, but I was pretty sure that we never discussed books. Stephen is getting his Master's in economics, so he has a little bit more expertise in the area. He went on to explain that I was wasting my resources (time) on a bad investment (the book).

Ahh ... I understand.

He said that a lot of people have a complex that compels them to finish things, even when they can already tell it's not going anywhere good. Examples - television shows, movies, craft/home projects, food. We talked about how if you had to continue paying money to do that thing, you would immediately stop, but since the resource is your time, you continue to invest.

That 10 minute conversation has completely changed the way I read books. Before I never would just stop reading a book because I didn't like it. Now, I feel total freedom to quit when I realize I'm not enjoying it. There's no point in reading the next 200 pages if I hate the first 100. I mean, I try to give the book a chance, but once I feel that I've done that - the book gets the axe. I'm still working on it in other areas of my life.

It's such a good word though to be wise about how we spend our time. It's not an unlimited resource. We are literally giving our lives to the things we fill our days with, and I hope that I don't waste mine on "poor investments."

All that to say - I'm going to stop reading Marriage to a Difficult Man. It's proving to be very difficult to read due to the writing style, and it seems to be more about the life and times of important Christian thinkers who were living in New England than really about Sarah Edwards. Sorry to anyone who found it riveting. Who knows - maybe in a couple years I'll be interested in that and pick it up again.

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