The stages of reading a not-so-good book

Writing regularly means you also have to be a good reader. I always read books and even took a high school job that offered me regular access to books. Even now, the old library worker tendencies are hard to fight. I went to the library this past Saturday and shelved two books that were out of place. Not because I had to, but because old habits die hard.

I also found a few books, one of which I had been meaning to read. Strangely enough, it was released back in the spring, which usually means it would still be with the new books, but there was no tell tale blue dot on the binding and nothing that would otherwise suggest it was out of place. When I saw this, the conspiracy thinking gears started turning. Was this relatively new book shelved with the rest because the author was a gay black male? I know, I’m ridiculous, but when a book released in 2007 is still in the “new” section and one that was released in spring of 2008 is not, I start wondering.

I'll save the conspiracy theory for another time. This post is about reading itself, specifically reading something you expected to be good, or at least decent, and slowly discovering that it is, in fact, very, very bad.

Sometimes you get through the first few pages and give up, or “Cut your losses” as they say. This is probably best because in the end you haven’t lost much time and if it came from the library, you didn’t lose any money.

I’m reading my latest library pick and hovering between “I know he could have written this better” and “How close am I to reaching the last page?” It’s never good to want to rush to the end. I feel obligated to finish because I started the first two thirds with hopes that the storyline would improve. With that much invested, I might as well stick around till the end. Again, this is never good.

When you pick up a book, you do so with the hope that it’s going to be good. Sometimes it really is good. Sometimes you want to recapture the magic so badly that you return to the same author in hopes that the rest of their work is as good. When it’s great, you use every waking hour to finish the book while at the same time wishing it could last longer. But when it’s bad, you feel duped. More than that, when it’s bad but the majority of people who have read it think it’s good, you feel like you’re on crazy pills.

It’s happened too many times for me to count. I don’t know if it’s because I'm less forgiving now that I have gotten into writing or if I’m just completely not seeing what everyone else gets the book. Sometimes I find myself scouring the one and two star reviews on Amazon just to confirm that I’m not the only one who missed out on the magic.

The stages you go through when you realize you are reading a bad book mirror the stages of grief:

1) Denial (This book is going to get better. It has to get better.)

2) Anger (Who let this get published?)

3) Bargaining (If I return it to the store, at least I'll get my money back. If I get away with it, I'll borrow books from the library for the rest of my days.)

4) Depression (Will I ever read a good book again?)

5) Acceptance (Okay, it sucked. Let’s see what else the library has)

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