One Star Reading

I love reading. But not all books are created equal.

Don’t get me wrong, I will try any book at least once, but there are some books that I just can’t get into. Sometimes it’s because it’s a slow-burner, the kind of book that takes an age to read because the story takes an age to tell, and those are ok. For example I’ve been reading David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks for a few months now, and have finished at least 10 books in that interim. It’s not that I’m not enjoying it, it’s just that it’s not something I can speed read. I have to walk with the characters, no matter how slowly they choose to go, and understand new information at the same pace as them, no matter how long it takes them. I’m ok with this. This is fine.

Some books, however, suck.

I understand that this is a subjective emotion. I am aware of the fact that by willingly reading books that everyone says should be read, I am exposing myself to the very real possibility that I will not agree with what has been said, and I will leave those pages with a headache and self-loathing. I am an adult, I understand that it is not necessary to like what everyone else likes, and that it is fine to like what nobody else likes.

And yet.

And yet.

I continue to peruse top 100 lists for books I’ve not read, I continue to go against my screaming instincts as I slide a book off of the shelf, I stifle my urge to sob as I crack open the pages. “Maybe I’ll be wrong,” I think. And y’know what? Sometimes I am. But sometimes I’m wrong, and then I hate myself.

That teacup is full of hard liquor

One book that springs to mind is The Notebook. Yes. That The Notebook. The book by Nicholas Sparks, author of seminal works about white people kissing in the rain. With all the hype and with all the book-to-movies that have made tidy sums, I thought that despite my reservations, I might enjoy it. I was so wrong. So, so wrong.

My migraine started within the first 5 pages and continued till the bit where they grow old and die together at the end. I just.. couldn’t get it. I couldn’t get why she went back for him, I couldn’t get why he didn’t go looking for her, I couldn’t get why there was a cliffhanger for an obvious ending, and by the end I was certain that if this was love, I didn’t get that either. Call me heartless but I could not see what was so romantic about the whole affair until the end where they, again, grow old and die together. Or maybe one of them dies and the other just gets laid. I don’t know. Someone enlighten me.

I wish it was

On the subject of Privileged-White-People-Make-Life-Harder-Than-Necessary, I read The Girl On The Train the other day and just… nah. I couldn’t. I mean… seriously. Nah. People have been going crazy about it, Richard and Judy stuck stickers all over it promoting their approval, there’s a movie in the works. I finally took a stab at it (heh, no pun or spoiler intended) and I just… nah. The narrators are all awful women . All three of them. And not awful in a “complex character” kind of way, or a “unlikeable but justifiable” kind of way. I mean actually awful. All three of them. No redeeming features in any of their characters. One’s pathetic and harbours enough self-pity so that I don’t have to pity her, one’s a serial cheater who seems to be perpetually annoyed at her loving husband who she is I reiterate cheating on, and one is a paranoid man-stealer who spends the bulk of her narrative alternating between glorifying her “Successful Other Woman” status and talking down her husband’s ex-wife (something about her being fat and saggy which is just downright rude). The man she stole is no better, he doesn’t get a narrative but that’s just as well because the book already provides 3 toxic narratives – who needs a fourth?

A summary of the characters in The Girl On The Train… and my reaction after reading it.

Something I’m hoping that I’ll grow to like but currently dislike is the collected works of Salman Rushdie. The man is knighted. The man is lauded. The man has awards pouring out of his ears. And yet I can’t finish a single one of his books. I want to say that I’m not intellectual enough for him, give him his due and all, but he takes so very long to progress his plot. Y’know how long it takes to get to the Midnight Children in his book Midnight’s Children? Too damn long. But there are so many glowing reviews that I can’t give up. It’s like a personal insult. I just have to keep at it, continue to watch the author beat around the bush until I find out that there’s a spring of crystal clear, refreshing water underneath. I’m on my 5th try. I’ll finish The Bone Clocks (and at least 10 other books) before I finish it, I’m sure.

Anyway, someone out in the ether needs to tell me I’m not the only one who’s a glutton for punishment. Feel free to share with me your least favourite reads! Also feel free to add me on Goodreads and give me recommendations 😀 We can love/hate together!

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