Has someone recommended a book to you with an "Oh, you’ve got to read this. You’ll love it!"? Trusting your friend, you take the book or buy your own copy, and open it with expectation. Only to be … disappointed.
I’ve read some blog entries about a particular acclaimed novel, considered literary by the PTB (meaning the powers that be — only no one knows who they are!), a winner of a major literary award (maybe multiple awards for all I know). It’s in the double-digit sales ranking on Amazon.com, and the overall reader reviews have been raves. So I decided to give it a try.
Okay, the author surely knows how to write well, plenty of beautiful prose, but despite her knowledge of language, the book was a total snooze in my case. I kept putting it aside and could come up with plenty of other excuses — including listening to talk radio! — not to continue with that novel. (That’s a bad sign when a novel makes a reader feel that way.) I forced myself to keep slogging through, wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn’t enjoy what others considered brilliant.
Finally I had the courage to say something to another well-published author, to ask that person if she had read this particular novel and if she enjoyed it. Goodness. Turns out I’m not alone. Turns out a number of writers and readers felt the same way. I feel so much better. I am not alone.
Takes me back to this truth: No writer can please everybody.
As for my personal reading tastes, give me novels with well-developed characters who make me laugh and cry, who make me feel as if I know them and they have become my friends. Give me novels with well-devised plots that sometimes surprise me and yet always leave me satisfied and wishing there was more. Give me novels that I will stay up way past bed time to read just one more chapter. I want to be so wrapped up in the story that I don’t notice the beauty of the prose because I’m too busy experiencing the story itself. My life is too short to slog through books that bore me.
Does that make me right about that particular novel and those who loved it wrong? No, it just means we all have our particular reading tastes. And that’s as it should be. If we were all the same, how boring we would be. God made us different, unique. We ought to celebrate that.
Speaking of writing, I’m making better headway this week on my w-i-p, despite preparations for travel and speaking engagements. This weekend, I’m leading a Christian women’s retreat in the Idaho mountains. Next week I’m on a research trip, followed by speaking at the ACFW conference in Nashville. Looking forward to seeing some of my blog readers there!