books I don't like...so here are some of the reasons I skip over certain types of books:
I'm sure I've missed out on some great books -- but I've figured out that what I really love are historical novels - and I'm not usually very pleased with anything else. I read a contemporary novel recently -- I actually won it on one of the book blogs -- not sure why in the world I even entered the contest, considering. Anyway, I read it -- and was not enamored. My own dislike of putting a book down once I've started was really the only thing that kept me going. Let's just say, I finished it, put it on Paperbackswap -- where there was a wish-list a mile long waiting for it -- and someone took it immediately -- I hope they were very happy with it. I'm not naming the book or author but if you look at my list of "Books read in 2009", you can figure it out.
For the record, I have read a few contemporaries that I enjoyed -- The Time Traveler's Wife (now a major motion picture) and The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square, which was set in a fictional small-town in South Carolina but, in general, I avoid them.
This can go under contemporary but it's also a world unto itself. I can pretty much look at a cover of a book and know it will fall into this category. I don't even pick it up. Just not my thing and there's no point in wasting my time. Let me state that a waste of my time doesn't mean that the book isn't well-written and enjoyable -- it's just not what I want to read. In case you were wondering, I'm not big into chick-flicks either. I'd rather see explosions or be scared.
I occasionally read a straight-up romance -- and in my younger years, I adored them. But, as I got older, those became less and less what I wanted to read. However, if it's set in my favorite time period and place (medieval, mostly England) and a few real people pop up, I might give it a go but, in general, what I really like are historical novels with some romance -- not the other way around.
Okay, maybe if they win some best historical thing...but I pretty much don't even look twice at anything that's won a Pulitzer or some other big-deal award. Why? Because those books -- and I'm speaking only for myself -- are usually too self-important for me to give a damn. So, congratulations to the author (who I'm sure is very talented) but no thank you. Just chalk this up to me being shallow and unworldly.
I love the idea of the classics. I think many of them are a gift to readers through the ages. I also think I might fall asleep from the sheer number of words and fall over from the weight of the book. I love Jane Austen -- especially Pride and Prejudice -- and I have read it -- but, honestly, I'm not sure if I read any of her other works. I think I did. Or I tried. Same for Charles Dickens. Charlotte Bronte -- love Jane Eyre. On film. Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights? Sexy as all get-out. On film. But reading them? Well, I had to read a lot of stuff in high school and college and I'm just no longer in the mood, though many of them grace my bookshelves. They look so pretty and make me feel good that they are there.
Novels set in the south:
Okay, I'm a southern girl -- born and reared -- so you'd think any book with a southern slant would grab me. But they don't -- and here's why -- many of them try so hard to be southern that it just comes off as too much -- and, quite often, not very realistic. Oh, yeah, there are some real characters here in the south but no more, I would wager, than in any other region -- so reading about someone's loopy aunt who puts clothes on chickens or crazy grandpa who summons a UFO with his ukelele, um, no. Sometimes these books actually make me cringe -- and, to be truthful, sometimes it's the southern writers who are the worst. Once I see that a novel is supposed to be some cutesy, contemporary southern thang, I usually just put it right back down. And what's with the names folks come up with for southern characters? I've noticed that a lot of writers give characters names which might have at one time been more prevalent in the south -- or they give them some weird made-up sounding, funky name. I'm sure you can find that here and there but it's just not usual. Not any more. But, apparently doing so is supposed to scream SOUTHERN. Well, they make a southern girl scream if that counts for anything.
Now, let's talk about writing because I can't say what I've just said without commenting on what I write.
I write contemporary novels either set in the south or featuring a main female character who is from the south. So what gives?
Well, I write contemporary novels pretty much because I don't have the fire under me to do much research -- so writing historicals is pretty much out for me unless one day something just won't let me be. I did write one novel which was partly historical -- but not really because it was a fantasy world which I could make any way I wanted it. And I did. Anyway, writing contemporary, yes. Reading, not very often.
And the southern thing -- well, they say, "write what you know" and I do know the south. It's very easy for me to make my females southern -- I feel their rhythm, can hear their accents, know the way they would word something -- you've heard of the southern insult, I'm sure, just add bless your heart to whatever you say and nobody will actually be offended. I often take my characters out of the south, though, and make them fish out of water somewhere else. But, whatever I do, I never make their southernness a separate character in the story -- it's there and it makes them who they are -- but they experience life just like anybody else does -- only with a southern drawl. I don't continuously point out they they are from the south or try to make the conversations "sound" overly southern -- I do throw in some "y'alls" and "fixin' tos".
I want to make clear that I'm not dissing any of these genres -- there are good -- and bad -- writers in all of them -- but that really has nothing to do with it. I just like what I like. So, don't show me the top-seller list because I really don't care. Or rattle off the awards a particular author has accumulated because it won't matter.
Just give me a novel that takes me somewhere, without ever leaving my house.
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When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger...Epictetus