I Just Don’t Get Some Authors

From Book Riot:

Most of the time, when I finish a book I don’t like, I consider it a fault of my book selection abilities: it just wasn’t for me. I can see how some people might like it, but it didn’t line up with what I enjoy in a novel. For instance, I can’t stand a lot of description of imagery. As a not very visual person, it always feels like a slog to read. My eyes glaze right over it. But I know that plenty of people love books with rich descriptions, because they can vividly imagine the scene. Great for them, not for me.

Sometimes the fault lies more in the marketing: I was promised a romantic read, and this turned to be meditation on mortality. The cover suggested something fun and silly, and this was a heartbreaking read I was not in the headspace for. Of course, occasionally I just think a book is bad. As much as I want to believe there’s a reader for every book, there are some that I finish and can only think about the glaring faults.

The weirdest thing, though, is when your experience of a book doesn’t match up to what seems to be everyone else’s. It’s not just, “Well, I didn’t like this because it’s a space opera and I’m not much of a fan of that genre,” but: “Everyone says this is funny, but I found it depressing??” There are a few authors who I just seem to bounce off of. When I read their books, I just…don’t understand what they’re trying to do. I understand the literal meaning of the words, I’m following the plot, but I just don’t get the selling points. I don’t understand the appeal.

There’s one author in particular I seem to have this problem with the most — probably because he’s such a popular author that I kept going back and trying again, because I felt like I must be missing something. Since his work is so beloved, I’m going to refrain from naming names, but every time I read his books, I feel like I’m reading them through a window. There’s a distance from the characters, the world, even the writing. I can’t seem to ever got lost in the story.

Link to the rest at Book Riot

PG is undoubtedly atypical in more than one way, but he’s never felt any pressure to read books his friends liked that he doesn’t like. Or any book that he doesn’t like.

(Yes, PG did have a longer-than-normal educational experience that involved reading (or skimming) books he didn’t like, but he doesn’t count that. Incidentally, PG was a big fan of used college textbooks because they were cheaper and because, in many used books he chose, the prior owner(s) underlined the important parts. Those study aids made reading books he didn’t like go much faster. He did always wish that the student bookstore where he bought the books had indicated whether the prior owner got a good grade in the class or not.)

While reading the OP, PG gained the impression that the individual might not be very old and, possibly, feel a bit of peer pressure in her choice of books

14 thoughts on “I Just Don’t Get Some Authors”

  1. This brings to mind some advice from a long-departed tv news anchorman:

    “It doesn’t matter what it is: if you don’t like it, don’t read it. Reading is a pleasure or it is nothing.”

    Harry Reasoner
    Before the Colors Fade (1981)

  2. I love to pull up an uncomfortable chair I don’t like, flick on a dim lamp I don’t like, get a snack I don’t like, and settle in reading a book I don’t like. When finished, I treat myself to a big plate of steaming Brussels Sprouts that I really don’t like. And then I take the time to ponder why I spend so much time on what I don’t like.

  3. Personally I’m often curious about what other people see in books that I dislike. So I do sometimes “try again”, or “push through”, or whatever – just for the chance to glimpse the world through their eyes. But the OP sounds uncomfortable with the mere idea that people are just plain *different*. Which does suggest youth (or at least immaturity/inexperience).

  4. I tend to run away from award bait books, because they don’t usually entertain me very well. I will try one here or there though, sometimes without realizing it. Recently I read through almost an entire series written by a very popular author and I came out of each book asking myself why I’d finished it (one didn’t get finished, because it was so monumentally boring). The thing is, the book sucked me in, had an fun middle, and then absolutely failed to stick the landings. And that’s what annoys me most. They were entertaining until they tripped and fell on their faces. Not even by accident. And that’s what I just don’t get about some authors. Deliver on the promise please.

    • Ditto.
      Very common failing.

      With such an easy fix: don’t do anything you don’t know how it ends and never lose sight of the ending if you do. Twist and turn but do provide closure. Even in multi-parters. Books that run on and on and just…end…or “to be continued” are annoying. Period.

  5. I can push through just about anything but constant dream sequences drive me crazy. Same for TV shows like Westworld and Underground Railroad. I cannot buy in emotionally if I don’t know what is a dream and what is not.

  6. The article is devoid of specifics. No particular book is mentioned. Is the author scared of naming names?

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