it wasn't for me then one day it turned out to be

“If a book is tedious to you, don’t read it; that book was not written for you.”


—Jorge Luis Borges

Supposedly, a young man once stopped Borges on the street and told him how disappointed he was with the writer’s latest book. “Oh, that’s okay,” Borges said. “It wasn’t written for you.”

I’m a big fan of the phrase “it wasn’t for me” when asked about books (and music and TV and movies and so forth) that I didn’t get into.

I like the phrase because it’s essentially positive: it assumes that there are books for me, but this one just wasn’t one of them. It also allows me to tell you how I felt about a book without precluding the possibility that you might like it, or making you feel stupid or put down if you did like it.

“It just wasn’t for me.” No big deal.

The wonderful thing is that “me” is always changing. Every day you’re a different you. So when you say, “It wasn’t for me,” maybe it’s not for the “me” right now—maybe it’s for the “me” in the future.

Connecting with a book is so much about being the right reader in the right place at the right time. You have to feel free to skip things, move on, and maybe even come back later.

And you have to feel free to say, “It wasn’t for me.”

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