I love to read fiction. I have a few favorite genres, but if it’s a good story, I’m not too fussy. When I find an author I enjoy, I’m always on the lookout for their latest and greatest and get ready to “take a vacation” in a good book. However, last week that methodology just didn’t pan out.
I had my name in at the library for the newest release from an author whose earlier works I had appreciated. Found a few hours of time, snuggled under a quilt with a glass of wine and a good book–“Ah, this is the life!” Three chapters in I got a little restless. Plumped up my pillow, rewrapped my quilt, cleaned my glasses. Another few chapters, and I put the book down. Paced a little before deciding to give it a good solid eight chapters, then skimmed a little, opened the book at random to see if I could find something to convince me to continue, and finally gave up.
A writer myself, I thought it would be a good exercise to analyze my unexpected rejection of this book. The first chapter piqued my curiosity, the writing was good, the story was unfolding at a good pace . . . I finally realized that I didn’t want to spend a whole book with any of these characters–and I’d met quite a large number of the residents of this small town where the story takes place. They were all unfulfilled, cheating, manipulating others, lying to themselves and others, and simply unhappy. I looked for a character I could like, could identify with, could cheer for, and I couldn’t find one. It looked like about a 6-hour book (I’m a fast reader), and I didn’t want to live in that depressing scenario for the few days it would take me to finish it. Also, when I’m reading a book, the emotions it engenders can leak out into my life. The characters in this book weren’t living in deplorable conditions, in danger for their lives, or in need of rescuing, they were just miserable.
I think I’ll find a more idyllic spot for my next vacation.