Not all Books are created equal…

oldbooksI’m a snob.

Wow, that sentence really doesn’t fit my personality, but to be honest it does fit one aspect of my personality.

When it comes to reading, I’m a snob.

There, that’s better.  Yep, absolutely, positively, without a doubt, I am a total and complete snob when it comes to my reading material.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t need to be what the critics like, it just needs to be what I like.  And I have eclectic tastes.  Also, I have a bit of a photographic memory, so I have a tendency of remembering books for years upon years…much to my frustration because my snobbery limits the amount of books that I actually enjoy reading.  This means that I will (and have) read the same book hundreds of times for the lack of anything better to read.

Generally speaking, I do not like to read non-fiction.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is some non-fiction that I do like to read.  Mainly those are crime and psychology novels.  However, paying money to read about money, someone’s path on making money,  someone’s fab new diet, someone’s life, someone’s redemption or someone’s rise to political stardom….SNORE.  Booooooring.  Next please.  There are some that I like to read, like books about people who have inspired me…but generally speaking.  No Thank You.

And please don’t think that I will just read any old thing as long as it’s fiction.  Nope, absolutely, categorically not true.  I’m picky even about the writers of the books I read.  I have a list of authors I’ll read from and occasionally I will stray.  Especially if another literary friend with similar tastes to mine recommend that author.  That is how I learned about Khaled Hosseini, who wrote such fabulous books as The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.  Both of these pieces are well written, thought provoking and touching.  Khaled knows how to write in such a way as to pull the reader into the world that he is weaving, make you see and feel what his character is experiencing and help you to understand even when the character is from a culture you aren’t familiar with.  All of the sudden, you realize that you have things in common with this character, even when they are in a country far far away.

And then there are those books which people recommend, which they make a huge deal about and rant and rave about how absolutely GREAT this book is.  So, you go out, get the book, read it, and it is ubber-stupid.  I remember when the Harry Potter books came out.  I couldn’t help thinking, why are grown people making such a huge fuss over a children’s book.  AND why are grown people reading this stuff out in public no less?  I somehow managed to stave off reading one of J.K. Rowling’s books until the fourth book was near to being released.  One weekend, while staying at a friend’s house and having just finished my own book, I was bored and looking for something to read.  I found Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in her living room and figured…what the heck.  It won’t kill me to read it for the hour I had to wait for everyone to come back.  But when everyone finally did come back, I feigned a headache just to be able to retreat to the bedroom and continue reading.  I was hooked.  J.K. Rowling may write children’s books, but she is a phenomenal author.  I ate through the first three books and anxiously awaited publication of the fourth.  For the next three books, I was already signed up at my local Borders’ for an advanced copy.  For the final two books, I actually went to the midnight releases.  For the seventh book, I bought it on a Friday night (ok, rather Saturday morning), was home with it by 3am and had finished the entire thing by noon on Saturday.  I mourned the loss of that series like the loss of a good friend.  However, I await whatever new effort she produces with happy anticipation.

Then there are the writers and books that, after reading, I sit back and ask myself.

HOW on earth did they get published and WHY is it so damn popular?

<Disclaimer, I am about to bomb a book, sorry…like I said, I’m a book snob>

Let’s take for example….ohhhhhh the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer.

Bleck.

Sorry, plain and simply put (and in my opinion – we know what those are worth) she is a horrid author.  The book(s) are dry.  I didn’t care a lick about the characters.  Actually, I was rather hoping that something nasty was going to happen to the main character, Bella.  I actually had to force myself to make it through the entire first book.  And even with my photographic memory, it seems that self preservation has taken hold because I remember next to nothing that happened in the book.  Whether that is because it was truly forgettable or because I am protecting myself, I don’t know.  I just know that I read it the entire way through and don’t remember much except that I was really hoping that Bella died but being upset knowing that this was a series so obviously she didn’t.  Needless to say, I hated that book.  I was happy to find that one of my favorite authors, Stephen King, hated the book as much as I did and agreed with me that Ms. Meyer is a weak author.  If you like the book, that is great, truly, I am happy for you.  I love it when other people love to read and I don’t begrudge anybody’s taste.  It’s just that personally; I didn’t like the book and would never read another one in the series.

Mentioning Stephen King…yes I adore that man.  I love his style of writing.  Often times, I’ve read back over my own writing and realized that there is a hint of his tone or style here and there.  That’s absolutely fine with me.  I wish more people wrote as wonderfully as he did.  He has a flow, a rhythm that you feel the entire way through a book.  When he’s good…he’s untouchable.  When he’s not good, you want to bop him over the head with a muse stick and ask him why he sold out to write that shit.  And, like any author alive, he has written his fair share of shit.  Case in point, the Cell.  I didn’t like it.  It had potential, but I never could feel tense or scared or happy or anything while reading that book.  It felt like an “in-between” book, written by a talented author.  A filler book if you will.  And then there was the atrocity that was Wizards and Glass from the Dark Tower: Gunslinger series.  I love Roland the Gunslinger.  I have lines from that book memorized.

“The dark man fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed” The Gunslinger, (The Dark Tower, Book 1) by Stephen King

“I deal in lead” The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Taken out of context, they aren’t that powerful.  However, read them within his stories…allow him to weave a tangled web around your psyche and the next thing you know, you are getting goose bumps every time Roland of Gilead steps onto the scene.

Until…Wizards and Glass.  It starts off great.  Truly it does.  However, then, for some unknown reason, Stevie King decides to finally tell a back-story about Roland that will explain who he is and why he does the things that he does.  It took up more than half of the book.  I was outraged.  It took away the mystery that was Roland.  I HATED that book and for a year or so after that I swore to never read another of Stephen King’s books.  I was positive that he had sold his soul to the devil, to the man, to the alllllll mighty dollar.  I thought he had SOLD OUT.  So, I stayed away from him for over a year.  I even missed the first publication of his next book, Bag of Bones.  It wasn’t until the televised version of Storm of the Century came out that I finally came back to the King fold.  I still think he messed up on that Wizard and Glass book, however, I have finished the Dark Tower series and feel that the series works just fine for re-reads without reading that big middle portion of Wizards and Glass.  So, when I re-read the series, I stopped at one point half way through, and picked it up again almost near the end.  It worked beautifully.  Once again, he was (and is) my favorite author.  In his own words…

OUR Boy? Yeeessssss!!!” The Talisman, Stephen King

For other reading fun…try these authors:

Mentioned Above:

J.K. Rowling

Khaled Hosseini

Stephen King

Other Favorites:

Jane Austen

Louisa May Alcott

Rex Stout

Joseph Conrad

Hermann Hesse

J.R. Tolkien

Thomas Mann

Alfred Toombs

Piers Anthony

Nick O’Donohoe

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