The Atlantic

Finish That Book!

You suffer when you quit a story midway through—and so does literature.
Source: Carlo Allegri / Reuters

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.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
The Risk of Elizabeth Warren’s Dodging
She’s presented herself as the truth-teller, the straight-talker, the one who can break down complex economic ideas and bring nonprogressives along.
The Atlantic8 min readPolitics
What America Didn’t Anticipate About China
For too long, policy makers ignored the possibility that China could transform the U.S., rather than the other way around.
The Atlantic3 min readPolitics
The Atlantic Politics Daily: What Warren Won’t Say
Elizabeth Warren emerges as a front-runner with one particular hangup: admitting how to pay for Medicare for All.