Three days ago, I abandoned Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay in favor of Elizabeth Berg’s Once Upon a Time, There Was You. Not because Amazing Adventures isn’t a great book, mind you. But after completing 146 pages (and with more than 500 remaining), my brain began to ache.

Don’t get me wrong: Chabon is an excellent writer and there were moments when I’d been intrigued. But on the whole, I found myself growing weary from the effort required to muddle through those tightly-packed pages. It felt like a chore. I needed a change of pace. I told myself I would return to this highly-regarded, Pulitzer Prize winner after taking a mini-vacation from its heavy prose and teeny-tiny print. However, after blowing through Berg’s book in three days, I’m still not sure I want to devote any more precious time to finishing Chabon’s tome about two WWII-era dudes and their comic book creations.

There isn’t anything “wrong” with Amazing Adventures. Although it isn't something I would normally pick up, it came highly recommended by someone whose opinion I respect and trust. But reading a good book is a lot like spending time with friends: You want the experience to mean something, even while time flies by too quickly. You want to feel saddened when it’s time to part, and eager to reconnect at the very next opportunity. Amazing Adventures didn’t feel like this at all; it was more like spending time with a demanding but well-paying client whom I ought to tolerate but found trying. Its “heft” I’d analogize to dating a brilliant but long-winded man: I could put up with him for a time, but eventually, he will test my patience and drive me crazy. I didn’t hate Amazing Adventures, but neither was I dying to spend every spare moment in its company.

As with any lukewarm relationship, if I find myself reading a taxing or mediocre book, I must decide when it's time to cut bait. So why is it so hard for me to ditch a book in the middle? Why does it make me feel so guilty? There is something almost sacrilegious about giving up on a renowned author's work. Clicking "Started But Didn't Finish" is like breaking up publicly on Facebook, and it makes me feel inadequate—as though I am too intellectually inferior to appreciate what all the fuss is about. It’s the same feeling I used to get when I couldn’t “click” with an accountant or investment banker on a first date: There must be something wrong with me.

True, some books—like people—take a little longer to warm up to, and others can take quite awhile to reveal their true brilliance. Sometimes, it pays to hang in there. Haven't you ever ended a relationship, only to run into that person years later after they’d morphed into an attractive and successful “catch”? But truly exceptional books and individuals never make their audience feel deficient. They have a way of entertaining and enriching those around them with "universal truths" that are touching, inspiring, and relatable.

Fortunately authors (unlike friends and clients) can be dumped at will, then picked up again at any time. Maybe I’ll give Chabon another whirl after I’ve played the field awhile longer.