Don’t Finish That Book

One of my favorite things to tell people is that I’ve started and stopped reading more books than I’ve ever finished. I’m not even sure that makes sense but it reminds me of an important decision I made several years ago regarding reading and learning. The short version of the lesson is that I don’t have to force myself to finish a book (or anything I’ve started) if it turns out to be a waste of time.

Maybe that seems obvious to you but for most of my life I’ve felt that if I don’t finish what I start, no matter how painful or pointless, then I’ve failed. All the while the truth has been that if I push through something pointless, that is the failure.

The Indisputable Existence of Today’s Blog Post

I just finished a book titled The Indisputable Existence of Santa Clause by Dr. Hannah Fry and Dr. Thomas Oleron Evans. In it, the authors conclude (on pages 11 and 152) that two simple logic statements are all that is needed to prove Santa Clause exists. Fortunately for those who buy the book, they then filled the intermediary 139 pages with interesting calculations, projects and mathematical formulas about things related (sometimes marginally) to Christmas.

You might be wondering why I read a book about the existence of Santa Clause in March. Well, for one thing, it was there. I like to read interesting books when I find them. I found it in passing at the library and figured I could probably keep it for a long time without anyone else putting a hold on it. Also, if they’re wrong about the premise of the book, I want to make sure there’s still time to buy presents.

This is one of those books that you could read every word of but you’d probably drive yourself insane. It was funny and witty and possibly even useful (how to wrap presents in a mathematically efficient manner) but a little too deep in parts. Or maybe I’m just not “into it” because it’s March.

Building an icosahedron Christmas Ornament