Life is Short: Read Good Books

Ever put a book down and felt that you had just wasted too much time out of your finite lifespan dragging yourself through trash? Hopefully that hasn’t happened more than a couple of times. I have had my fair share of “I’d rather be picking cotton in the Deep South than reading this” moments, and oddly enough it’s usually when I’m either reading a “classic” or a book that someone recommended as a must-read but doesn’t share my taste in books. The latter I can understand not caring for, since not everyone has the same taste, but the former? How did some of those books become classics? Jane Eyre left me depressed, The Iliad had me banging my head against the wall (seriously, is everyone related to a god? Why do they stand around announcing their genealogy? Just fight already!) and Frankenstein was…boring. Sorry Mary.

Okay, so some of my gripes could certainly be personality defects on my part (I’ve already confessed that Alice and I don’t see eye to eye either, and Wonderland is so famous that authors around the world still do spin offs from it).

There is another group of books that irritate me even more than unreadable classics and plots with characters whom my friends love and I want to bury in a ditch. This group is fortunately small, and (sad to say) mostly consist of cheap romance novels. I entitle this group “I Could Have Written This Better Myself.” This is not me being egotistical. This is me seriously critiquing the writing skills involved and…well…being irritated that they were published and I wasn’t (even now, I still get irritated). Now, you writers out there are sure to have read a book or two that falls into this category, or one similar. One day, after disdainfully putting a book in the return pile for the library (no matter how bad, I can’t disrespect a book. Unless it’s a math book.) I thought to myself, “I could have written that way better.” Then of course, the angel on my shoulder gently rebuked, “Are you sure?” To which I replied, “Of course!”

Well, the only rebuttal for that is “Prove it.”

So I set forth to do just that. The end result was my first completed work – a fantastic novel of magic and adventure written by a girl who had no real idea what she was doing. I’m sure there are millions of technical errors (not to mention spelling and plot holes) with Rilean of Mirsca, but to me it is a work that puts The Iliad to shame. I still flip through it, especially if I’ve just had to endure something incredibly time-wasting (safety procedure materials for work fall into this category). It will never be publishable, but every time I pick it up I find myself thinking, “This was a great story!”

Authors should be their own best fans, after all.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. nkeda14
    Jun 01, 2011 @ 01:30:10

    HAHA sooooo true! I went through the “I could of written this better” thing with Matched by Allie Condie ( I think that is how you spell it?) and gosh I was SO excited for that book, and it sucked! sucked! sucked!

    I was “face palming” myself the whole time. Errrr everything was bad, the character… a Mary Sue (and a pathetic whiny one at that), and the love interest was nothing more than a card bored cut out “I’m hot, but a weird-o” type.

    UGHH, I don’t think i’m THAT good of a writer, but come on…. I still have nightmares.

    I have never burned a book, but Matched is sitting on my shelf right now, dangerously close to a candle.

    My rant is done! Lovely post Jennifer!

    Reply

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