I used to feel obligated to finish every book I started. Now I don't. If a book isn't "grabbing" me, I don't bother finishing it. But overall, I do finish most of the books I start.
Every book I pick up has 100 pages to get me. If it doesn't then bye bye. I never thought of it as matrity it's just reading is not something I have to do now. I'm not in school. I do read the book if I'm in a book group so I can discuss it but other then that I stick by my 100 page rule. I have way too many other things I have to do.....
That's tough for me...I tend to be one of those people that is in for the long haul with a book...and I can't remember the last time I didn't finish a book I started. I always feel guilty if I don't finish the book and then of course there is always that feeling "that it is going to get better" and I will have missed it - unfortunately some books never get better. At 60 years old I can probably count on one hand the number of books that I have started and then stopped reading midway...
Sadly, I do feel the need to finish every book I start. It may not be for -years-, and I may have to start over, but I always finish them.
Not only that, but I'm a sci-fi fantasy reader, which presents other problems. I always finish -series- too, even if it goes downhill after the frist one.
I think it's just a bad case of being compelled to know what happens next.
Thank you for describing a concept that I have long struggled with but have never been able to name. I too am one of those people who have always felt that they should read an entire book, even if it's not interesting, well-written, or even comprehensible.
Happily, I've given that up to some extent as of late, deciding that life is too short to waste on books I can't make it through. Hence, "Backlash" sits on my shelf because I got too depressed reading it, I admit that I will likely never make it all the way through "Guns, Germs, and Steel," and my husband's copy of Tintin sits on the headboard under the Arts section from the Sunday Post. Yet, I still feel that twinge of guilt when I return a book I have only read half of.
I suppose this brings a new meaning to the concept of biblio-therapy.
I go both ways. Some books I reach a point where something terrible is about to happen, and I just don't want it to become reality, so I stop to prevent it from occurring. (Yes, I can be just like a five year-old in some regards.)
On the other hand, there are other books that just don't grab me and I put them down for a while. "It's not you; it's me" kind of mentality. Sometimes either the book or I just don't fit at a certain point in our lives, but I feel we might at some other time. Housekeeping was that kind of book. I'm hoping White Teeth is that kind of book, too.
A sign of maturity to give up reading a book? or finish it? I think the author is reaching. I tend to finish what I start unless it's truly absymal, not that I don't have a few DNF's on my shelves - waiting for me to finish them.
I read every book from cover to cover. In the past 10 years I have only given up on one book (I read 5 in an average week). I always keep going in the hope that something will happen to save the book - shame it only happens some of the time.
In my old age, I've developed a tendency to not pick up books I'm certain I'll dislike. Generally I browse the beginning, then peek a hundred or so pages in. At that point, I usually have a sense of whether or not I'll stick with it. My pet peeves are blatant author intrusion (see Richard Preston's Hot Zone for a prime example)or a bad case of florid purple prose in a so-called nonfiction title. The last book I truly disliked (and refused to finish)was The Great Immortality, a book assumed I'd love because it was about the Black Death and therefore I skipped my usual pre-read browse. Oops. Anyway, if I find a book is that crappy, I stop reading it and pass it on. Life is too short.
Hmm... I do abandon books, but I feel obligated to at least give the book a good chance. I read enough of it to get a good feeling for what it's about, get to know the characters... and then if I just really don't like it, I don't force myself to continue.
However, I also only read one book at a time, so I rarely have a reason to ignore a book that I'm actually enjoying. If only I could apply that philosophy to knitting projects :)