Monday, May 08, 2006

Mediocrity sucks

Last week, after finishing another Barbara Delinsky book, The Passions of Chelsea Kane, I thought I would dip into some of the lighter books I picked up at the book closeout store at the beginning of the year. When everything went on sale, I thought I would pick up some books that I wasn’t so sure about, because they were cheap enough to risk it. Still, when I finish one book and look at my shelves to pick a new one, there is a fairly tall stack of "chick lit" type paperbacks that never looks that appealing. I mean, they still look like they might be interesting, but never interesting enough to actually pick up at that moment. However, after the run of heavy, difficult books I had a few weeks ago (The Historian, Reading Lolita in Tehran and My Sister’s Keeper), I felt that I was ready for lighter stuff.

The Barbara Delinsky book, I loved, as usual. While it addressed issues of abuse and abandonment, both from parents and spouses, it was overall a pretty light and easy read. It had a romance, and the central mystery (the main character was adopted as an infant, and she is looking for her birth parents) was intriguing. While not strictly in the romance genre, it is definitely a book written for women to enjoy, and I certainly did enjoy it. So, I decided to turn to my stack of ignored books and try them out.

First, I picked up Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber by Adele Lang. Eh. Why would I want to read a book about a shallow, mean, vacant sociopath? Especially one who manages to turn her terrible character flaws into a newspaper column, and, according to the cover, a movie? I am sure there is a deeper point to all this, but 50 pages into the book, I still wasn’t really sure I wanted to continue, which I take as a sign to stop. Actually, that wasn’t the kicker—the kicker was that when I put it down and came back later, I had no real desire to pick it up again. I’ve read books that I wasn’t sure I liked (see Life Before Man below, but also Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, which turned out to be one of the best books I had read in a while), but I kept coming back to them. While I was reading, I would view them as books I was giving a try, and I wasn’t sure if I would continue, but every time I had time to read again, I would pick them up. With this one, I put it down, went to do something else and found myself coming back not to it, but to the bookshelves to see what else I could find.

Every Inch of Her, by Peter Sheridan was next. It was all right. I brought it to work with me and read it on the train. I had a hard time feeling sorry for the protagonist, though, a woman who leaves her 5 children at home with her abusive husband and tries to join a convent. Still, I didn’t find myself putting it down to look out the train window instead, so I thought I might finish it. Only, when I got out of work, I had no desire to read further. Fortunately, reading wasn’t on the menu that night anyway—it was my friend Ellen’s last day at work, and we went out to happy hour and beyond to say goodbye to her.

When I was ready to read again, I decided I had had enough of the stack of ignored books. I went to the bookstore again (It was Mandy’s fault! She knows I have no will power when it comes to the bookstore!), and bought books that I really want to read. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote (great book, wow, very impressive). Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro (I am only 40 pages into this book, and already deeply attached to the main character—and no, I haven’t seen the movie). Lake News, by Barbara Delinsky. Don't Eat This Book, by Morgan Spurlock. I have other books on my shelf that I do want to read, but I think I am going to get rid of that stack that I never seem to want to get to. Life is too short for mediocre books.

Also, my list of books-to-be-read will become much shorter. And then I won’t have to feel so guilty the next time Mandy suggests a visit to the bookstore….

I am too tired to go find the links for the books I mention in this post, but I don't want to leave it for later, so I am putting it out there in the hopes that I will get back to it later to finish the links. And, if not, Google is your friend (or amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com or any other book website).

4 comments:

Michael said...

Interesting post.

A few weeks ago I swore off book buying for two months - and of course since that time have bought six (one hardback and five trade paperbacks). Then right before I finished "The Historian", I decided I wanted my next read to be something a bit lighter. But when I looked at the stack I just bought, I realized all six were non-fiction, and while not all were serious and deep topics, none were as light as I wanted to go.

So I pulled "The Princess Bride" off the row of paperbacks that I bought but hadn't gotten around to reading yet. Loved the movie, bought it on VHS and later on DVD, have nearly entire scenes memorized.

And in regards to mediocrity -- yes, it sucks. And yet I am reminded at least twice a month by one particular author that it is exactly what a majority of women settle for, so it is exactly what a majority of the publishers deliver.

I could go on more, but I have a war with Guilder to plan...

Michael said...

TC, if you're out there...

By the end of the week, I will have driven Susan absolutely bat-shit crazy with my continual quoting of "The Princess Bride". Just thought I'd warn ya.

Susan said...

Hey, Michael, I think you just complimented me (that whole bit about a majority of women settling for mediocrity...)! Thanks!

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