I admit that May 2018 was a month for the record books! Hopefully, June will settle a bit. So let's start it out with a new Quills post. This time our topic is whether we finish books we hate. Do you want to guess in advance what each of us said? Be sure to click on the link for each of Robin and Parker so as to get the rest of their stories.
In truth, I can't imagine my fellow Quill, Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies, reading anything to the bitter end that she doesn't very much like. But perhaps I'm wrong . . .
We’ve all come across them—those books that are so badly written you wonder if the author was even an earthling. Or, assuming that they weren’t hatched on another planet, if they bothered to attend grade school. Or if they live in a sensory deprivation chamber and have no freaking idea what the real world is like. The first pages of such a book are usually painful. Do you risk the agony of finishing the entire book? You want to know my philosophy?
P.S. Broaddus, author of A Hero's Curse, do you read things to the bitter end? Even when you hate them? I suspect you might be a bit more likely to do so than Robin, although I can't put my finger on why I think that might be . . . Am I right or am I wrong?
What to do with a book you hate? Or, even worse, a book that was just, 'meh.' It doesn't even warrant the energy of hurling it against the opposite wall. It barely deserves a sigh and a shrug, and certainly won't get a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Too much effort for a story that simply didn't captivate. So what do you do with that story? Are you a finisher? A staller? Or a tosser?
Does anyone want to guess what I'll say, in advance? Do I read things to the bitter end, or do I not? What do you think?
Do I finish books that I start, but hate? I can answer this question with a single title: Moby Dick. I found it utterly incomprehensibly, annoyingly, mind-bogglingly boring, and odd—and downright awful. I hated it. Nothing anyone could say about a color or its significance, or what the author may have intended that color may have symbolized, could resurrect this title for me. I found a solid 70% of the work to be complete nonsense. Lest I be mistaken, let me put it simply: I truly and completely abhor this work. Perhaps more than any other I’ve ever read. So, I think the early readers of Moby Dick—those who considered it a total flop when it was first published—were spot-on.
So . . . yes, I hated Moby Dick. But you’ll notice from my comments above that I read it. From front to back, from beginning to end, I read it. Why, you ask? Excellent question! Unfortunately, I’ve not an excellent answer, except to say that before I felt I’d be justified in concluding that Moby Dick is/was an “utterly incomprehensibly, annoyingly, mind-bogglingly” horrible read, I had to give it every conceivable chance to prove to me that it was something else. Sadly, it did not. It was not. It is awful.
Another book I truly did not like but read front to back, was War and Peace. As I’ve read a great deal of Russian literature—and for the most part, have found the works quite worth my time and effort—my problem with this 1000-plus page work was simply the plodding slowness of it. But I read it.
In the past, I rarely if ever put a book down that I didn’t like. However, I’m more prone to do so today. Perhaps that’s because I’m starting to measure my life (or what’s left of it!) a bit differently. That is, I know I no longer have all the time in the world. Another reason is because, whether the work is Indie or traditionally published, there’s a lot in the market that is not well conceived, written, edited, or presented—and too many times I find stories that . . . well, that I've read before. This is unfortunate, as I genuinely appreciate a new story with unique creatures and characters, freshly told.
So, today when asked whether I read to the bitter end, works that I hate, I can no longer say, “Yes. Always. I always complete a work I start.” Today, I’d have to say something more like: “Most often.” I really try to give a work every chance possible. That said, now when I find that I dread picking up my current read, I won’t necessarily deny myself the ability to choose something else. If I emphatically despise the one before me, I won't necessarily complete it just because I had the bad sense—or misfortune—to have picked it up in the first place. Of course, had I lived by this rule back in the day when I read Moby Dick, I would have dropped it, as a consequence of which I'd not now be able to emphatically say that it is an “utterly incomprehensibly, annoyingly, mind-bogglingly" awful read.
So, did you guess right for any of us? All of us? Do share!
Stop by again in July when we share some new flash fiction with you!