Not Good Enough To Enjoy, Not Bad Enough To Abandon

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I seem to be on a run of books lately that I’m not enjoying, but that aren’t so bad I abandon them.

I always thought I was quick to abandon books. If I’m not into it, I put it away and assure it, “It’s not you; it’s me.” Not every book is for everyone, and I know that. If I find myself making excuses to put the book down, if I’m not looking forward to reading it, then unless I have a good reason to continue, I just put it down.

But recently, I’ve read a few books where I’m in a gray area. The writing’s bad or the action is slow or the characters make lousy decisions. (I want to shout at them, “Are you stupid? Who would even do that?”) But at the same time, I want to find out what happens. I have hope that it might get better. I’ve enjoyed some badly written books, so maybe it’s just taking time to find its stride?

I should know better. It’s not going to get better, and I know it. They never do.

I guess it’s like a bad relationship. There’s enough chemistry to keep going, but the whole time, you’re thinking, “I really shouldn’t be wasting my time. There are better books out there, and I want to read them all.”

*sigh*

I’ve read some magical books this year, books that suck me in and make me fall in love. Books that leave me with such a hangover afterward that I want to sleep with the book under my pillow, just to keep it close by. Books that I want to start again the moment I close the last page.

I’m always chasing that, and I know that not every book can be that way. Maybe not every book should be that way. It wouldn’t be magic then, would it? I couldn’t have that depth of love and connection to every single book.

So maybe that’s why I keep going with those gray area books. I know that the book is going into the donation box when I’m done (or back to the library), and that we’ll never hang out again. I’m just passing time until the next amazing read.

Do you ever have this experience?

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Why Books are Like People

I love everything about sharing books.  I love talking about them.  I love disagreeing about them.  I even love wear marks that come back on books I’ve lent out.  If a book was also a movie, I prefer that the book cover be in it’s original state, not it’s Hollywood-movie-poster state.

My friends come to me for book recommendations because I read widely and can usually figure out, from examples of books they actually enjoyed, what they’re likely to enjoy next.  I only have one friend to whom I can’t recommend books, and that’s okay because he delights in liking nothing.

I read an article in which the author talked about being afraid that books he/she recommended wouldn’t be liked by the receiver.  Or that the author wouldn’t like a gifted book.

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I guess that’s kind of like blind dating.  You love the book (or the person), and you just know that someone else will too.  But it’s too much pressure, or it doesn’t work out for some strange reason that others outside the relationship don’t understand.

Much like dating, a relationship with a book is based on chemistry.  There are some books I’ve loved but don’t know why, and other books I’ve hated (or not finished) when I felt like I should love them.  I describe myself as a moody reader.  Sometimes I’ll look at my bookshelves and declare I have nothing to read (mostly because I’m not in the mood for any of the 973 books on my TBR pile).  Other times I’ll look at my shelves and want to read three books immediately.

When people don’t like a book I’ve recommended (or I don’t like a book they’ve recommended), I remind myself that it’s not personal.  The spark just isn’t there.  But disagreeing on a book can spark a discussion in a way that agreeing often doesn’t.  I’ve had discussions where everyone agrees, and while they’re nice, they don’t tend to be as dynamic as passionate arguments.  Arguing over books gives me an opportunity to get to know a friend better, to see the book in new and different ways, and maybe learn something.

What’s the last book that was given to you?  And did you like it/ dislike it/ put it on a pile and forget about it?

Philosophical Graffiti

I’m a fan of graffiti.  Not gang tags or kids destroying stuff for the sake of destruction, but I understand the need to carve your name in a wooden picnic table or write on a bathroom wall.  I’ve never done it, but I admire the artwork and creativity of others.

I don’t understand the need to destroy, when others deface artwork or “tag” things that were clearly not meant to be tagged.  I once saw petroglyphs in a rock where people had carved their names into the stone around them, and I wondered who would destroy something like that.

This post isn’t about acts of destruction though.  I recently ran into graffiti on a bathroom wall that made me smile and made me think.  When I read it, I thought, “This is kind of a low-tech Facebook.”

As seen on a bathroom wall stall...

As seen on a bathroom wall stall…

I really enjoyed this conversation.  In black, is:

“Don’t (sic) ever fall in love.  it’s a trap.”

“<– thats depressing.”

“<DONT (sic) EVER FOLLOW SOMEONE ELSE’S HEART.  THATS (sic) THE TRAP.”

Then it gets interesting.  (Extra points because she used mostly used proper punctuation, grammar, and spelling).  In brown, it says,

“Love is a choice, not a feeling.  Those butterflies are from infatuation.  Love at first sight is a Feb 14 hoax.  We should strive for love and grow more deeply in it daily with our partners.  Because when I see him for the last time I want to be more in love with him then (sic) I ever have been before.  But, Just my opinion. -CK”

It’s clear that the first girl had a bad experience, probably not long before she wrote that.  I picture her in the bathroom, getting a disappointing text message from her beloved.  Maybe her beloved broke up with her via text just then.  Maybe they had an argument over dinner.  Maybe her beloved didn’t send her a text when she expected one.  In any case, at that moment, she was moved to write those words.  She could have updated her Facebook status with that, and maybe she did that as well.  Or, maybe she didn’t want her friends and family to know that her beloved disappointed her yet again.

The girl in brown wrote that “Love is a choice, not a feeling.”  I agree with her sentiment, but not exactly what she says.  Anyone who’s ever been in love, especially after they’ve made it past the butterflies in your stomach feeling, knows that long term love is both a choice and a feeling.  Once upon a time, I dated a wonderful man, but I just didn’t have that feeling for him, and ended up breaking it off.  I could have chosen to stay, but without that love feeling, it can be hard to get through the ups and downs of a real relationship.  In contrast, with my husband, I’m long past the butterflies in my stomach stage, but I still have that warm and fuzzy feeling.  And that warm feeling helps me choose not to bash him over the head with a very heavy object when he irritates me.

In all seriousness, I don’t believe that you can choose who you fall in love with.  I believe in chemistry, and I believe that the chemistry between two individuals can be love.  I’m not just talking about romantic chemistry/ love, but also the platonic chemistry/ love that happens between friends.  Sometimes you just know that you’re going to be wonderful friends or lovers, and the relationship doesn’t take years to build.  Sometimes those relationships start immediately because of chemistry.  But at some point, there’s clearly the choice to put the hard work in or not put the hard work in.

Love isn’t the trap.  Thinking that love should be easy is the trap.  But, just my opinion.  🙂

Catching up with Breaking Bad

Guest post by The TV’s Guy’s Stepmother

Unknown-1After my nephew urged me to watch his favorite show, the TV Guy’s father and I watched the first episode of Breaking Bad. Five weeks later, we have somehow managed to watch 40 episodes (way more TV than I like to watch in such a short span of time…)  Needless to say, we are hooked!
The show has far exceeded our expectations, as former high school chemistry teacher turned crystal meth cooker, Walter White, has undergone an amazing transformation. By now, some of the characters are in so deep that their lives are forever changed, and there is no turning back.  It’s as if they were swept up in a wave.
Irony is everywhere, especially as Skylar, Walt’s sometimes estranged and perpetually conflicted wife, goes about finding a way to launder the drug money that her husband continues to amass.  The camera finds the face of their infant daughter and juxtaposes her innocence against her parent’s turmoil.
And we can’t forget Hank, Walt’s DEA agent brother-in-law, hot on the trail of Walt’s elusive alter-ego, Heisenberg.
Don’t plan on reading a magazine or checking Facebook while you’re watching this show… the plot twists demand-and deserve all of your attention.
Fourteen episodes to go for us until August 11th, when the first of the final eight installments airs.  I hate to see it end, but at the same time, can’t wait to find out
what the writers have in store for Walt and Skylar.