At the recent APLFF New Fiction Confab (more on that later), an interesting question came up, one that I think most of us readers have considered. If you start a book, and you just don’t like it, do you soldier on or do you cut your losses and walk away?
I used to be the former reader, trudging through all number of terrible books, and there were many. In the last few years, I decided that my time was worth more than that, and I’ve started putting books down.
So what kinds of books do I put down? Two notable ones come to mind, only because they’ve received lots of love from friends, family, bloggers, etc. The first, The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls, I just couldn’t finish. I saw Jeanette speak at a charity event, and she was utterly charming. But for some reason, the book was just too much for me to stomach, and I had to walk away.
Another book I put down earlier this week was the second book in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone saga, Days of Blood & Starlight. I don’t know if it’s too much fantasy for me, or if it was the transition from Prague to some other world, but this book just did not keep my interest. And when I start skimming, I know it’s time to reevaluate my choice.
What about you? Do you ever walk away from a book? I must admit, I find it a little liberating.
*Photo by Jeremy Piehler
Sometimes real life can be just like the movies in the worst possible way. So on days like today, when everything just seems so unreal, I go home and snuggle with Lola. Or take a hot shower. Or drink champagne. Or get lost in a good book.
It also helps to think about this quote:
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here’s hoping that tomorrow is a better day than today. Cheers.
It’s Banned Books Week, the time to celebrate the freedom to read and also the freedom reading can bring. There are a lot of bad things happening in this world, and censorship might seem far down on the list of things to worry about, but we should all remember that banned books have the power to shape the world.
As is fitting, a quote from our often-banned friend, Mr. Vonnegut:
“There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” -Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
One of my favorite movies (and books) is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. You’ve got Audrey, crazy parties, a cranky cat named Cat and one seriously handsome writer (Hello, Paul!). It’s a fun movie, but the undercurrent of sadness is also appealing, in a strange way. Holly really is lost and doesn’t seem to be able to find herself for most of the movie. And even in the end, I’m sure Paul had his work cut out for him once the credits rolled.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Holly tells Paul about having the mean reds. When he confuses them for the blues, she says this great line:
“The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?”
Sometimes after I finish a book, I get a case of the mean reds. I’m not afraid, but I spend so much time invested in characters and plot, and as the pages dwindle, I know it will all be over soon. And while I love rereading a favorite book, there’s nothing quite like that first reading, indulging in all of the details and learning right along with the characters. It’s especially bad when I finish a series that I really love. Yes, Harry Potter is one of those series. I grew up reading those books, and saying goodbye to Harry’s story was like saying goodbye to one of my friends. And while I can read them any time I want, I’ll never be able to recreate sobbing in the back seat of my dad’s car when one of my favorite characters died.
All of this leads me to one of my recent reads, which gave me such a bad case of the mean reds that emergency frozen yogurt was in order. Yes, I’m talking about The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson. I’ve only read a few of her books, but The Shades of London series has become a fast favorite. I won’t spoil the ending of book two, referred to as “The Thing” by Maureen on Twitter (If you don’t follow her…just do. Seriously.), but it totally took me by surprise, and I’m still not over it. There are two books left, so not all hope is lost, but it will be a very, very long wait for the next book.
The only solution to a book-induced case of the mean reds? Buy copies for all of your friends and insist they read them so they can share in your misery. You can even create a tiny book nerd support group. You’re welcome, friends.
As I continue writing my manuscript, I’m thinking more and more about sentence structure and length, about making an impact with more than just the words on the page. Gary Provost provides us a great example of the power of a well-crafted sentence:
“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.”