A friend of mine wrote about the fickle nature of what authors get read more than others, of how some lesser writers can develop cult-like followings, even though their writing isn’t up to par with the masters of the pen (proverbial so much more now than it used to be). Perhaps it’s the genre, or the story itself that draws people in, or maybe it just utilizes a popular theme of the moment, or taps into the zeitgeist of a generation.
Or maybe it gets a following, develops a “reputation” as one of the “it books,” and then you see it on everyone’s reading lists. They keep saying it’s amazing, just by word of mouth, so you feel like you need to read it, and then, when you do, you are less than enthused by the book itself. This happened to me with The Goldfinch, though I tried to get through it three separate times. In the end I simply gave up, because it’s just not a good book, no matter how many accolades it’s achieved.
Then there are those who believe that if they can’t understand something that means it’s deep. Well, sometimes that just means it’s not very good. Sometimes the denser a book is the more likely it’s hiding something in the depths of the prose, something the author doesn’t want you to recognize and call them on. Or maybe that’s just me. Sometimes I find books that others can’t stand to be stimulating to me, and I rave about them like salmon swimming upstream.
As a writer myself, perhaps I’m more attuned to the frequency of writers who speak to me personally, whose words grip me and shake me hard, showing me either a gritty reality or a hyperbolic fantasy, a world that draws me in and makes me feel something. That’s the point, isn’t it, the objective of it all, to bring readers into the world you’ve created and nurtured, and leave them breathless? I need to feel when I read. It’s why I stop reading too many books to count after only a few pages.
Life’s too short to waste time on a bad book. No matter how many people swear by it.