Porsche Brosseau/Flickr
I finish every single novel I start. If I happen upon the first line of a 1,000-page novel, I of course don’t feel compelled to read to the end. But as a matter of personal policy, when I decide I’m going to read a novel, I read the whole thing.
I’ve gathered over the years that my persistence—or stubbornness, depending on your point of view—is unusual. Most people I encounter think nothing of dropping a novel halfway because they find it boring or because they can see where it’s going or because they forgot it on the subway and moved on to the next thing.

This behavior, common though it may be, seems lazy to me. Wrong, even. Once you start a book, you should finish it.

I realize that cultural judgments like this are no longer broadly acceptable.  When Ruth Graham wrote in Slate that adults should feel embarrassed if they read literature written for children, she was attacked as a condescending snob. Didn’t she understand, critics argued, that fun-seeking was the only reason anyone did anything anymore? And if a 45-year-old enjoyed reading Harry Potter, then who was Ruth Graham to say he should feel ashamed? How dare she even use the word “should”? (I’m caricaturing, but only a little.) Read more...