Not every book published will appeal to every reader. That is a given. I have a terrible time reading bestsellers. The genre rarely appeals to me. I find them too full of Gary Sue or Mary Sue protagonists. They know too many esoteric disciplines, have access to arcane trivia, and unlimited funds to track down a villain we already know who wants to destroy the world for motives we also know. The adventure alone is not enough to engage me. Too often I find the author has fallen into the trap of telling everything and showing only fights and chases.
So the question arises: at what point do we abandoned a book we have purchased on the recommendation of a friend, a stunning review, or even because the title, cover art, and back cover blurb entice us? I know I’ve been suckered in by books that don’t live up to the opening paragraph.
If I’ve spent good money on a book, I try very hard to find something in the endless prose that interests me. I used to plow through to the end simply because the book was published for a reason and I might learn something about writing from it. I usually only managed to finish one book a month.
Now I find myself tossing books against the wall with greater frequency. At what point in the book this occurs varies.
A friend of mine insists on giving a book 50 pages. She reads a lot faster than I do. Another friend uses 3 chapters as a rule. I’m not so rigid. If I find myself making excuses not to the read a book I’ve started, then I will read something else and go back to it. When I have abandoned a book 3 times, I give up. One recent best seller went to the pile awaiting a trip to the used bookstore after only 30 pages and 2 abandonments.
I felt guilty for making excuses not to read that book. I put up with severe arthritis pain to knit or tat rather than read that book. The moment I made the decision to give up on that book and picked up another, it was as if a boat load of guilt left me. The new book was about an interesting character doing something interesting. The author showed me the character doing things. Through the use of tight point of view I was invited to share the character’s innermost thoughts, worries, and triumphs. I wanted more. I made excuses to read the book rather than to avoid it. Before I knew it I was 50 pages in after only 24 hours rather than 24 days.
Do we have to finish a book that bores us? I don’t think so.
Do we have to plow through the tangled language of the classics? Not unless you truly want to. Dickens may be a magnificent storyteller but I get lost between subject and predicate. How can I find the story if the words go in one eye and out the other ear? I don’t even want to talk about either of the Bronte sisters.
Do we have to read depressing books because they are socially important? Make your own definition of socially important. You can find most of that on the evening news, you don’t have to wallow in it unless you’re doing research.
Reading should be a pleasure, not a chore. So abandon guilt and delve into a genre novel, a short story, or whatever interests you. While you’re at it, check out the newest offerings on the Bookview Café.