The ‘old friends’ in this instance happens to be theBelgariadseries of books by David Eddings. There are no major spoilers in this post, but I will be naming characters and what-have-you. If you’ve never read them, do it. They’re great fun. Bubblegum for the eyes in a lot of ways, but entertaining nonetheless. Regardless… a cut just in case.
I arrive fresh from ranting (rather rudely, I do apologise) on Nick Kyme’s journal entry regarding reading. The rant was around what constitutes a ‘good’ book and my point was that surely a ‘good’ book is entirely objective? Read the rant there if you wish: it largely centres around ‘Pride and Prejudice’, a book I disliked with such vitriolic disgust that it’s the only book I’ve ever considered throwing away.
(I didn’t, of course, it’s still on my bookcase).
But it’s true. Take the Horus Heresy books. Dearly Beloved disliked ‘Battle for the Abyss’, whilst I rather enjoyed it. He waxes lyrical about ‘Legion’ and I couldn’t get into that one at all. (For the record, we both loved ‘Flight of the Eisenstein’ – one on the scoreboard for James Swallow).
I’ve tried for a long time to pull myself out of the fantasy/sci-fi genre. I pick up the occasional non-genre book, but rarely get engaged by them. ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ is one exception to this rule. I loved that.
I think part of the reason is that for me, at least, I prefer my author to tell me a story, not to demonstrate how clever, or quirky, or ‘off the wall’ they can be – does that make any sense? I like to be entertained when I’m reading. I like my emotions to be taken for a rollercoaster ride. I like to laugh.
I’m not that hard to please, literary-wise. Good characterisation, good dialogue, good story – and I’m sold. (The ‘Dresden Files‘ books by Jim Butcher meet that criteria bang-on, I have to say – there hasn’t been a bad one of them yet. And at the same time, his fantasy series didn’t pull me in nearly as much. More Harry, please Jim!)
There. I’ve got the rant out of my system now.
As opposed to ‘On Writing’, which is a great book by Stephen King. Believe you me, that previous sentence is something I never thought I would write and actually mean. I’ve read quite a few of the illustrious Mr. King’s works. I liked the first three books of the ‘Dark Tower’ series, in particular ‘The Drawing of the Three’, but then there was ‘Wizard and Glass’. The trip to Hell was made all the quicker by the grease on the handbasket.
And all this led me to think: “I need to re-visit that series. I need to re-visit it and be aware of what it is that actually makes me dislike it so much once it hits ‘WaG’.” And then THAT train of thought chuffed out of the station and off on a scenic tour of ‘task for the rest of October is to randomly pull books off the shelf and say why I do or don’t like them’. It’s part of a writing exercise. Really it is.
I’m sat here right now looking at one of my many, many bookshelves. I also have books on other surfaces, because you really can’t have enough of them. I have a vastly eclectic mix of books up there, too – years of trying to get out of the fantasy/SF genre. There are:
- Well known books (the Discworld series, the Dresden Files series).
- Children’s classics (The Wind in the Willows, Charlotte’s Web, Tarka the Otter, the Harry Potter series).
- Books that I bought on a whim, read three pages of and wished I’d never bothered (‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus).
- Bubblegum books (Marian Keyes falls into this category, but it seems almost unfair)
- A book that I was forced to read, practically at gun point for my English A level that were I a different breed of person I would happily burn in a grand ceremony. (Pride and Prejudice)
- Works of non-fiction (Ancient Rome, the Plantaganets, In Search of the Edge of Time by John Gribbin, which I don’t understand at all, but which makes a great pretentious talking point)
- Books that don’t fit into any other category but which are books and therefore Good To Own.
So. To pick one at random, without being naturally pulled towards something I WANT to read. Plan is to force self to say wahat I do and don’t like about it. So…
I’m going to randomly go for ‘Winter Warriors’ by David Gemmell.
It was entirely random and had nothing to do with the fact that I love it.