Screaming about Neal Stephenson and wolves in the middle of the night

A crescent moon. Photo by Haseesh Rahithya on Unsplash.

As I write this, it is 1.30am, and I cannot sleep.

Inside me, there are two wolves, and the wolves are locked in an eternal battle.

The battle is because one of the wolves thinks Seveneves by Neal Stephenson is great, and the other wolf thinks it’s shit.

This war has been raging for two years now, ever since I read the book, and it still drives me to distraction on a regular basis, and so here is a blog post to try to settle this furious internal disagreement and make the wolves shut up.

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Giving up on a book

I did something unusual last month: I gave up on reading a book. Two books, actually.

This is pretty rare for me. I will ditch a TV series without a second thought, and regularly lose interest in video games before playing them to the end. Films are a different story, but they’re also so short that I can tolerate a bad one in its entirety. But when it comes to books, I will generally grind through to completion, no matter how long it takes.

My latest book abandonments happened back-to-back. First I dumped Shardik after only a few chapters. Then I made it halfway through Brighton Rock and decided not to stick around for the second half. The books sat together at the top of my charity shop pile, a reminder of my shame. I began to wonder if there was something wrong with my attention span.

But the next time I picked up a book, I tore through it in 24 hours. I still felt bad about abandoning its predecessors, but I realised this felt like a much better use of my time than slogging through something I wasn’t actually enjoying.

I decided I should give up on more books. Why I don’t do this more often?

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