*Clears throat - figuratively - and pauses, with fingers poised above the keyboard before launching into a typographical error-laden diatribe*
My reality is that I have read a great many books of many kinds since 1970. I have also begun to read a great many books, yet have never finished them (I pause here to allow professors of literature to swoon). This is - at least apparently in some literary circles (or ellipses, or squares, or trapezoids...) - a sin comparable to breaking into a holy place of worship and doing an enormous stinky poo on the holiest spot in the building. Or, perhaps waving my private parts (in spite of the inevitable pain it would cause - gentlemen, you know what I mean) at an afternoon tea party for the Old Prudes Club.
I don't understand it. I simply don't understand why some people (isn't the internet a wonderful tool for making these things known?) find it abhorrent that some books are put down only partly read, or never read at all by some people.
The implication of such an attitude is that this is entirely the fault of the fickle, feckless, (and several other "f" words), foolish reader. It seems that within some mindsets, ALL books deserve to be voraciously consumed from cover to cover - in fact I'll go further: the unspoken imperative seems to be that readers are obliged to finish every book that they begin. I have to admit that it's an interesting idea: that every book carries with it an entitlement. It's also absolutely ridiculous - as is the idea that one MUST not ever sneak a peek at the final pages. Who on earth thinks that there are rules for reading a book? It would seem that such people are out there - and they have Facebook accounts and websites. They also appear to have little concept of how crappy it can be to open a book that is truly awful - or, indeed, that such matters are entirely subjective. Their rules only apply to them...
In time, of course, I may take to growing a huge handlebar moustache, smoking an enormous pipe, consuming truly industrial quantities of port and wearing a smoking jacket with a cravat. If this happens, I shall of course have very different opinions on the subject, together with a purple nose. In the meantime however, here's my take on this, from the perspective of a (fairly) normal person who happens to have written a book, and wants to publish some more:
I very much hope that people will buy my work. If they do, I hope - passionately - that they will enjoy it. That, after all, is the whole point of the thing: creating stuff and spreading joy. If someone buys the book that I have created and then never reads it, that will make me a little sad (that is: if I ever found out - after all, there's only so many ladders that a writer can climb to spy on his customers through their windows). If someone starts to read something that I've written and puts it down to never return to it, it means - principally - one of two things: either I have failed as a writer, or they (or whoever gave them the book) have made a poor choice. No matter what, the reader bears no responsibility for not finishing (or reading) the book. To suggest otherwise is irrational.
By publishing a book, I'm putting myself on show (in the case of memoirs, doubly so: in terms of how I write and what I write about) and taking an enormous gamble in doing so. It is, however, a choice that I have made. Nobody else has a responsibility to help me achieve my goals. I have no sense of entitlement about my work - in fact I spend most of my time just hoping that it's good enough to have been put out into the public gaze at all.
Do I think - as I am led to believe many authors tend to believe about their work - that my book is important? Well, of course it is to me - in particular because it is intensely personal in its subject matter - but important to humanity? I'd be deeply shocked if anyone considers it to be so, because while I believe that we can all learn at least one thing from everyone we meet, my objectives and expectations are simple. The book is supposed to be enjoyed: it's supposed to make people experience emotions and to feel - in a friendly way - that they're not alone (in some thoughts and deeds). Most of all, it's intended to be fun.
That, basically, is all that there is to it - and all that I can ever imagine there being to it. Some people appear to need a reality check or what, in the area where I grew up would be called '...a kick up the arse...'. People will read what they wish, how they wish - and may it always be so.
So: buy my book. *Grins*