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Stop reading that book. Really

You know that book you just can't get into? The one everyone says you should read? The one you've heard great things about? The one that makes you fall asleep every time you pick it up? 

Stop reading it. Right now. Shut it up. Return it to the library. Donate it to get it off your shelves. 

I really believe in reading the book that's not for you. You absolutely should be seeking out books with main characters who don't look like you, books with authors who grew up in a different place or way, books that challenge the ideas you hold most securely. Make America Read began with the thought that books can and should be used to consider new ideas and lives and perspectives outside our own. 

But there are too many books waiting to be read to be bogged down by one that is not capturing your attention. LitHub illustrated this point with a handy of chart: How Many Books Will You Read Before You Die? 

An Average American Reader finishes 12 books a year. That means a 35-year-old woman, assuming average life expectancy, has just 612 books left in her life. Even if she's reading 100 books a year, that average 35-year-old woman can expect to finish just 5,000 more books, a relatively small number compared to the millions of books in the world. 

I'm never going to read all the books I want to read or all the books I "should" read. My to-be-read pile only seems to grow larger. And honestly, I wish I had back the time I've spent on some of those "should" reads. I probably could have read half a dozen books in the time it took me to slog through A Confederacy of Dunces

But I like this idea, from a Book Riot article: "Being well read means reading thoughtfully from a wide variety of genres (not limited to, but definitely including, the classics) and a multicultural array of authors in such a way that allows you to think and converse about the human experience intelligently." 

Reading thoughtfully.

Half of that directive is to read. Not just carry a book around hoping you'll suddenly begin caring about the characters or absorbing the information through osmosis, or let it sit on your nightstand so you can donate fines to your local library. 

The other half of the directive — thoughtfully — asks readers to be mindful of the books and authors they're picking. 

Give yourself permission to abandon a book, so you can find and read a book that will let you be thoughtful.