Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I Hate Being Told What to Read

I hate being told what to read. So much so that I have to force myself even to read books for my book club. Even books I really wanted to read before they were picked for book club. Even books that I myself suggested for book club. (To thwart this, these days I mostly suggest books I've already read, which has the added bonus that they won't turn out unexpectedly to suck, as has happened with some unread books I'd suggested in the past.)

In the fall, due to a project I was working on, for a few months I was only reading books from two imprints of a publisher. They could be any books from the last year, so long as they were from those imprints, which did help somewhat with me feeling "forced" to read them. It was an interesting exercise as I'd never done that before, not even when I worked at Thomas Dunne Books did I only read books from one imprint. I've always read very widely and I've enjoyed that very much, so this was a different and somewhat eye-opening experience. One of the imprints, which in the past I'd held in very high regard, I've since decided I really don't like all that much. I found a lot of their books to be ponderous, overly academic, and snobbish. The other imprint, which I hadn't thought much about one way or the other previously, I came to like very much and found its books were entertaining, well-written, and fun. I think it would be a very interesting exercise indeed to do that for a year--each month only read books from one imprint. I think I'd learn a lot about those imprints and what differentiates them from all the rest. However, I could never do it. I am having trouble enough with my decision to only read books written by women this month (and the majority of the books I own are written by women, but I am still struggling with it.)

I don't remember having this much trouble in school with assigned reading. But I guess back then, there was no questioning it. You just did it and it wasn't optional. Whereas I can skip book club (or I can go and just not have read the book which I did a few times in the fall.) I don't know why my brain reacts in such a knee-jerk way to being told a book is now required, that it automatically thinks "no!" even though I'd been looking forward to the book a moment ago. So I should finish my current book on Thursday night and then start my book club book, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, as we meet a week from Thursday. This is a book I already had on my To Read list, and I'd already bought, and I was really looking forward to, until now. Now that it's assigned, I think it'll be like eating my cauliflower. Sigh. Will I ever get over this?


Kay said...

I laughed at your dilemma. It could describe me completely. I am part of a mystery book group and I've been part of other groups that read more widely - regular fiction/non fiction. When I moderated the second group as part of my job at the library, I read the books, even if they weren't quite to my taste. I stopped going to that group after I retired from the library for the very reason you mentioned - I had to force myself to read the books. And I liked so few of them. I've resigned myself to only being part of a mystery group. Usually, there is not an issue there and there is the bonus that I select the books - members suggest, but I make the final picks. Good luck!

Carin Siegfried said...

Oh, that's even more frustrating! I like the majority of the book club selections so there's no basis for my reluctance to read them. Just my brain being dumb.