The Dragon Egg Princess – Ellen Oh
The Imaginary – A.F. Harrold
Started and stopped
Earthsea: A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K. Le. Guin
The Lost Property Office – James R. Hannibal
Darkmouth: The Legends Begin – Shane Hegarty
The Comedy of Survival – Joseph W. Meeker
Blood Standard – Laird Barron
Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now – Jaron Lanier
Even at (a spry) 48, I sometimes still find myself disappointed when I start a book by a popular writer and it turns out I don’t enjoy it. When that happens enough in any book I’m reading for pleasure, it gets to the point of putting it down and walking away from it.
Ursula K. Le Guin is a hugely popular and influential writer, and yet Earthsea wasn’t my cup of tea. And looking back to February, neither was her book Powers, which initially sounded like it was up my alley. And I’ve had the same luck with Garth Nix this year.
Big names in the publishing industry, who I’m learning don’t write my kind of books.
It’s all as subjective as with any other writer, of course. Just because a book is on the New York Times Best Seller list doesn’t mean I’ll like it any more than something I pick up that no one I know or heard of has read. I suppose that with really big names, on some level it still feels like I should like their stuff, though. So it feels odd when books from giants in their field aren’t my thing.
The other books I stopped were for a variety of issues. While my not necessarily liking best sellers shouldn’t surprise me, objectively bad parts appearing in otherwise well written/well edited books, still does. From a mystery book for kids having suddenly bizarrely advanced clues and needless info dumps, to a “realistic” story about a mafia enforcer who starts living to help stop bad things happening to people around him–but with a surprisingly poorly handled fight scene which simply wouldn’t/couldn’t ever happen as written–it was a month packed with books started and then stopped and put aside.
The Dragon Egg Princess was very close to joining that pile as well. But by the time I got through enough of it to verify that a glaring problem was never addressed, I was essentially done the story.
And The Imaginary came close to getting put down, as well. It starts off brilliantly but, in a Coraline-like fashion, what sets out as a story for kids becomes really dark and pretty intense. I’d initially thought my wife and daughter would enjoy it, but once the scary stuff started in, I knew it wouldn’t be for either of them.
So you shouldn’t only not judge a book by its cover, but evidently not by its first quarter or third, either. Because some have big issues later on, or become a different kind of story entirely as they proceed. (Having said that, I’ve certainly walked away from my fair share of books that simply weren’t good early and often, and sticking it out in the hopes that they would get better isn’t something I have the time for.)
Ten Arguments, I’m happy to say, is proving to be better even than expected. I knew it would speak to me, as Lanier certainly has of late, but it’s also a pretty quick read (always appreciated by us slow readers), and I’m really enjoying his style of simplifying complex concepts, and diving deeper into various aspects of his points that I hadn’t previously known about, much less considered. There’s even some humour thrown in, which is an unexpected bonus.
Next month I’ll do my usual monthly summary as well as wrapping up 2020 with my top picks of what I’ve read through the year.
Stay safe, all.