LUCY BURDETTE: I am writing this from a truly desperate place: I am nearing the end of a book I loved and panicked about finding the right one to read next. It's so disappointing to start a book that isn't as good as I hoped it would be, and thrilling to find one that captivates me. I find myself dreading the end of a great book, slowing down the way Tonka does when he's being delivered to the dog sitter when what he really wanted was a walk with his family followed by supper and a nap.
I've read two books recently that I haven't loved, although I finished them both. One was written by an author that I usually admire and enjoy--one of my favorites lately. She writes novels about culture clashes and the complexities of people attempting to adjust to new lives in unfamiliar territories. Good stuff for these times. The other was a novel set in Paris, which for me should be a slam dunk--I'm crazy for Paris. But this one was skimmable. And that raises a neurotic reader's question: Must you finish a book once you start it? If not, how quickly do you abandon it? Or do you skim to the end, wanting to know what happens to the characters, or hoping against hope that it has to get better?
And that raises one more question, do you read reviews before you start a book? If I had read the Amazon reports on the book from one of my favorite authors, maybe I wouldn't have started it. Because plenty of people noted how dark the ending was. For me, life is dark enough--I prefer my fictional endings happy. Or at least to leave the reader with some glimmer of hope. And besides, these characters made some completely foolish life choices that bothered me as a writer, and a person. Why did no one wonder why the man was spiraling out of control? How did that writer feel about following through with an ending that grim?
Jungle reds, tell us about the highs and lows of your reading life. And what have you finished lately that knocked your socks off?
And PS, the book I was loathe to finish was THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE by Joshilyn Jackson, and here’s how she describes what kind of book she writes:
“Weirdo Fiction with a Shot of Southern Gothic Influence for Smart People Who Can Catch the Nuances but Who Like Narrative Drive, and Who Have a Sense of Humor but Who Are Willing to Go Down to Dark Places.”
I wouldn't have described it that way, but I will certainly read more of her books.