I got in trouble last week with some of my colleagues. I gave up on a book before I reached the end.
That’s tantamount to finishing your Sunday dinner before you’ve eaten all the roast potatoes. It’s definitely not something I like doing, but what made it worse was that everyone else really enjoyed the book.
A bad reading experience can really put you off reading for a while. Last week I didn’t finish a book which was why I published no review. This week, I simply haven’t read anything to tell you about. Although, I have just started something new which I have high hopes for.
But why did I stop reading? Was it a bad book? Not particularly – a lot of people have really enjoyed it, so much so that I’m not going to tell you what it is because I’m starting to wonder if I’ve been a bit unfair to it.
Asking me to read an historical romance was always going to be a long shot, but it showed a lot of promise, so I gave it a go. It didn’t grab my attention, and it took a long time for me to get through the first hundred pages.
When I came to dipping back into the book on my second night, I got through about a page and a half before throwing it down, officially giving up. I was in a bad mood, and there was something about that page and a half that annoyed me. It didn’t take much.
Do I have a point? Maybe I don’t, but I do have a question. What makes a great book great?
There are books I have loved that others haven’t, and vice versa, like this one. Is a great book universal, or do we have to accept that no book can be good for everyone?
Are the things that are objective about a book what makes it great, or is it the subjective “
One of my favourite books is The Island by Victoria Hislop, and I know that is in part because I read it on the stone steps of a small village in Crete where the book is set. Was it my subjective experience of reading the book what made me like it, or was the writing simply that good that I could have enjoyed it anywhere?
Can even a technically perfect book be enjoyed by someone in a bad mood, or is our own environment part of the experience?
I can read anywhere, I sometimes proudly exclaim – but should I? Should I find some where that helps me enjoy the books I’m reading? And is it the same place for each book?
I enjoy reading – but am I doing it wrong?