Sunday, May 18, 2008

Life Is Too Short to Read Bad Books

There was a time, not so long ago, when I'd start a book and no matter how little I enjoyed it, I'd keep going. Especially if it happened to be a book recommended to me. I'd think, "It has to get better if I keep reading, right?"

Wrong. After too many years of struggling to finish stories that didn't hold my interest in the pointless hope I might find the golden nugget that made the book a bestseller or made it click with a friend, I have now decided life's too short.

Case in point: Many, many years ago, I belonged to one of those book of the month clubs and was sent a book I hadn't ordered. I'd never heard of the book or the author, but the premise sounded interesting so I kept it and read it. The story blew me away to the very last page. I passed it around to friends, insisted everyone I know read it, and we all agreed this author was dynamite.

Fast forward twenty years. Said author is now a mega-bestseller. The author's name alone is enough to catapult a book to the NY Times bestseller list. There have been movies and television series based on this author's books and the books get churned out so fast, hardly a month goes by without a new one on the shelves. But guess what? I haven't enjoyed one of this author's books in about four years.

Earlier this year, I told a friend I'd finally decided to give up on this author. I'd been disappointed too many times in the past and Life is too short to read bad books. My friend insisted I try just one more, one she'd read and thoroughly enjoyed. more. I started that particular story yesterday. One hour later the book hit the wall, slid to the floor and still remains there, a lifeless heap of poorly written prose and unsympathetic characters. I could almost forgive the heroine for having an affair because she suspected her husband of cheating. I could almost forgive the heroine's husband for following her and learning she was cheating.

Until he decided to bludgeon the lover. Until the heroine stood upstairs watching the assault from a window without doing anything. Until the heroine watched her husband dump her lover's body in the trunk of his car and assumed the dear man was taking the victim to a hospital for treatment. Until she decided to go home and wait for him rather than confront him. Until she waited at home and when he didn't show up, she drove to every nearby hospital to find where they'd gone. Until she hears about a crime scene, rushes over, finds her lover's body and is assigned as primary on the homicide investigation. (Oh, yeah...did I forget to mention both she and the victim were cops? Well, so did the author until that very moment.)

Ka-thunk! Adios, Author. You are officially on my to-be-avoided-like-raw-sewage list.