Contrasting Novel Quality
June 06, 2013
Let’s face it: not all books live up to our expectations. This disappoints us as readers, but at the same time, it allows for a subtle benefit as well. By reading disappointing books, our expectations lower, priming us for success in the next novel that we read.
To illustrate this point, let me point out that I recently had firsthand experience with this phenomenon. Now, this was not the first time that this happened, and I doubt that it will be the last. Either way, in my guilty binge-reading, I stumbled across the book, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This book was raved about by reviewers, and it was incredibly popular in sales. However, I hated the book. First, let me point out that it might in actuality be a very good book that I just wasn’t ready for. Nonetheless, in my personal opinion, it was too emotionally taxing with too little literary reward, one of those stories were you don’t like any of the people in it. Now, I fully acknowledge that there are probably several different conditions that would predispose me towards dissatisfaction with this kind of book. It’s not in the genre that I really like to read, and I probably wasn’t mentally prepared to read another heavy book after all of the weighty literature I’ve consumed recently.
Still, after about 250 pages worth of valiant effort, I gave up on finishing the book. This is harder than I would try for most books because I feel that, since there are so many wonderful and enriching books out there, I shouldn’t have to spend my time reading something that I don’t like. I might as well relegate those hours to completing some other task the I don’t like, such as cleaning my house or going to the dentist. I quickly picked up another book to wash away the foul-tasting remnants from the previous book. This is where the good part of reading bad books comes into play. In contrast to my recent experience, any good book was automatically elevated to a great book. Though not very far in, I am thoroughly enjoying Libriomancer by Jim Hines. This is one very contained example, but the instance carries over to plenty of others; everyone has come across a disappointing book before.
Oak Grove Branch