Until very recently, Michelle Ginder, a transportation planner in Seattle, forced herself to finish every book she cracked open. An avid reader, she says she felt 'like a quitter' for giving up a novel halfway. Then, while plodding through John Sayles's 2011 'A Moment in the Sun' and 'still not knowing what it was about,' she made a conscious decision to put down the book. She moved on to something more gripping, reading the 'Game of Thrones' series.
直到最近，西雅图的交通运输规划师米歇尔・金德(Michelle Ginder)都是强迫自己读完已经开读的每一本书。身为一个书迷，她说读一本小说时半途而废的话，她会感觉自己“像是一个轻言放弃的人”。后来，在苦读了约翰・塞尔斯(John Sayles)2011年出版的《阳光下的一刻》(A Moment in the Sun)半天却“依然不知所云”之后，她做了一个清醒的决定，把书放下，转而去读更吸引她的东西，开始读《权力的游戏》(Game of Thrones)系列。
'It felt so good,' Ms. Ginder, 39, says. 'There was so much guilt associated with quitting, but when I finally did it, it was liberating.'
In the age of the e-reader, dropping a book has never been easier: It doesn't even require getting up to grab another off the shelf. But choosing to terminate a relationship with a book prematurely remains strangely agonizing, a decision fraught with guilt.
'It goes against how we're built,' says Matthew Wilhelm, a clinical psychologist with Kaiser Permanente in Union City, Calif. 'There is a tendency for us to perceive objects as 'finished' or 'whole' even though they may not be. This motivation is very powerful and helps to explain anxiety around unfinished activities.'
加利福尼亚州联合市(Union City)凯萨医疗机构(Kaiser Permanente)的临床心理学家马修・威廉(Matthew Wilhelm)说：“这么做是与我们的心理结构相悖的。我们有一种把事物视为‘完成了’或‘完整’的倾向，哪怕它们可能并非如此。这个动机非常强大，可以帮助解释为何活动未完成时人会产生焦虑。”
The idea of stopping midway is stressful, but still, we do it. And even brag about it. Goodreads, an online community of readers that was recently bought by Amazon.com Inc., allows its 18 million members to rank the most initiated but unfinished books of all time; 7,300 members have voted. Top of the list: 'Catch 22,' Joseph Heller's American classic. Books in the 'Lord of the Rings' series finished a close second.
想着要中途放弃可能会让自己感觉很有压力，但我们仍然会这么做，有时甚至还会宣扬出来。亚马逊公司(Amazon.com Inc.)最近收购的读者社区网站Goodreads让它的1,800万会员选出自己有生以来极为熟知的却没有读完的书，7,300名会员参加了投票。名列榜首的是约瑟夫・海勒(Joseph Heller)所着的美国文学经典《第22条军规》(Catch 22)，《指环王》(Lord of the Rings)系列则紧随其后。
Readers age 16 and older average 17 books a year, according to Pew Research Center data, with the median around 8. Ms. Ginder used to read an average amount. But using her new approach to reading, she says she is up to 31 books a year. She has about 10 books ready to begin on her shelf or Kindle at any time. When she drops one, she simply pulls up another in seconds.
根据皮尤研究中心(Pew Research Center)的数据，16岁及16岁以上的读者一年平均读17本书，中位数在八本左右。金德过去的阅读量处于平均水平，但是在使用新方法读书之后，她说她一年读书的数量增加到了31本。她的书架上和Kindle电子书阅览器里还有大约10本书，随时可以开读。在她停止阅读一本书后，很短的时间内又会拿起另一本书。
Kindle readers abandon books frequently, according to Ms. Ginder and other readers. Sara Nelson, editorial director of books and Kindle at Amazon.com, says she believes that e-readers have given voracious consumers not so much license to stop, but the ability to dip in and out of books, depending on their mood. 'So while you might stop midstream, you can also very easily go back to the book later,' she says. She herself gives a book about 25 pages to enthrall her before putting it back on the digital shelf.
Leigh Haber, books editor at O, the Oprah Magazine, who suggests candidates to Oprah Winfrey for her consideration for the popular Oprah Book Club, says that while the obvious reasons for abandoning books are distraction and boredom, she attributes much of the behavior to a backlash against writing in which technique trumps storytelling.
《奥普拉杂志》(O, the Oprah Magazine)的图书编辑利・哈伯(Leigh Haber)向奥普拉・温弗瑞(Oprah Winfrey)推荐参加热门节目奥普拉读书俱乐部(Oprah Book Club)的候选人。她说虽然弃读图书的明显原因是无法集中注意力和感觉枯燥乏味，但是她认为这种行为很大程度上归因于对那种重技巧而非故事情节的写法的抵触。
Certain types of people are more likely to push through a book. Dr. Wilhelm theorizes that people with competitive, Type-A personalities might be more likely to abandon a book because they tend to be motivated by reward and punishment, and 'if there are no consequences or public recognition, why finish?'
Conversely, he says more laid-back, Type-B personalities may never start a book they know they won't finish. The more important motivator of finishing a book, says Dr. Wilhelm, is social pressure, which is why book clubs are so good at getting readers to the epilogue.
Librarians like Mary Wilkes Towner, an adjunct lecturer at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, always gives readers permission to stop whenever they want, to disentangle the act from childhood associations of reading as a task. 'I have found that people in their 30s, they feel guilted into finishing─just the same way that they were told to eat everything on their plate,' she says. 'If you want to be culturally literate, skim. But we all have to give ourselves permission to quit.'
像玛丽・威尔克斯・汤纳(Mary Wilkes Towner)这样的图书管理员一直都同意读者想打住时就打住，不要再像儿时那种把读书当做是一种任务。汤纳是伊利诺伊大学厄巴纳-香槟分校(University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)图书馆与信息科学研究生院的兼任讲师，她说：“我发现30多岁的人不把书读完会有一种负疚感──就像他们过去被人要求吃光盘子里的所有东西一样。如果你想成为有文化素养的人，那就多阅读。不过我们所有人都要给自己弃读的权利。”
Choosing the right books lets people dramatically increase the number of books they can read in a lifetime, she says.
Some psychologists look at bailing on books on the spectrum of task persistence. Meena Dasari, a clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine, works mostly with children in her private practice. She says that the ability to maintain a task even as any rewards and discontent fluctuate depends on what we attribute those feelings to. 'If you say, 'I'm not smart enough,' then you're likely to give up,' she says. 'But if you say, 'This is just a difficult book,' you're more likely to complete it.' Additionally, if your peer group or book club has finished the book, those outside forces can be powerful. 'The time I finished the most books was when I was in a book club,' Dr. Dasari says.
一些心理学家从做事毅力的角度来看待读书半途而废的问题。纽约大学医学院(New York University School of Medicine)的临床助理教授米纳・达萨里(Meena Dasari)在她的私人诊所大多是与孩子打交道。她说，即便奖励与不满情绪出现波动，我们也可能会坚持完成一项任务，能否做到取决于我们对其有何种感受。她说：“如果你说：‘我不够聪明’，那么你很可能会放弃。但是如果你说：‘这只是一本有点难读的书’，你把它读完的可能性就更大。”此外，如果你的同龄群体或者读者俱乐部的人已经读完一本书，来自外部的这些压力会产生很大作用。达萨里说：“我完整读完书最多的时候是我参加了一家读者俱乐部的那段时间。”
That said, some books, notes Ms. Haber at the Oprah magazine, are insurmountably difficult.
'If you come to a book at the wrong time, it won't connect,' she says. She started and stopped Jonathan Franzen's 'The Corrections' a few times before getting completely engrossed by it, and attributes her ability to finally finish the novel to trying it while on vacation. Reading it outside of her regular life, she says, gave the book new meaning.
哈伯说：“如果你在错误的时间开读一本书，那是读不进去的。”她在专心致志读乔纳森・弗兰岑(Jonathan Franzen)的《纠正》(The Corrections)之前读读停停了好几次，她认为最终能把这本小说读完的原因是她是在度假期间再尝试的。她说，在日常生活之外阅读赋予了这本书新的意义。
'But there are also those magical books that you read differently at different points in your life,' she says, adding that a young woman might be swept away by the passion of 'Anna Karenina.' A mother later in life might view the protagonist as selfish and irresponsible.
Publishers, says Ms. Haber, want readers to complete books so that they get hooked on the author and buy more of his work. But as a former book editor, she also understands the pressures on those inside the book industry to meet deadlines, and admits that many books need 'more time in the nurturing process' of editing. When she gets to page 25 of a poorly edited book, Ms. Haber admits, even she will put it down. Like most of her friends and colleagues, she says she still feels guilty about it.