The great thing about reading based on one’s whims (apart from the whole reading what you want part) is that, if you know yourself well enough, you rarely come across a bad book. And because there are no deadlines or papers due to force you to see it through to the end. I usually give books a few chapters to hook me and I have few qualms about abandoning books. Since I started reading books for NetGalley, however, I have made myself read a few books that I would ordinarily have given up on because I felt like I owed it to them since they gave me a free copy of a book to borrow.
That and I get more than a little glee from writing reviews of bad books. I know. I have an overdeveloped sense of schadenfreude.
Today I read a very good post over at BookRiot by Elizabeth Bastos about why it’s worth it to read hard books. This is different than trying to read bad books. Hard books aren’t bad by definition, though you might have to force yourself to get through both. At least a hard book, if it’s also good, will reward the effort. I love how Bastos puts it:
Now I think dense, hard, studded with challenge – it’s like trying the pound cakes of different countries, foods of different cultures and finding you like, like really like, Tibetan yak milk tea.
A few weeks ago, I reread The Scarlet Letter. It was a very hard read, but I was rewarded for it. I picked up on so much during this read through, such as the nascent feminism in the text. I plan to keep on reading hard books, classics that I missed during my undergraduate years, because I love to see the books that influenced what we read now.
I’m writing this post, though, because I finished a bad book last night. I’ll write more about it on Sunday, because it was a book I got from NetGalley. It had a great premise, but the dialogue and characterization were so awful that they spoiled the whole book. I know that I’ve read advance praise of this book somewhere, but I can’t for the life of me understand what the critics who wrote it were thinking. But then, critics and I rarely agree.