I hate to admit it, but 2011 has not been a good reading year for me so far. As I look over my Goodreads log, I see that I have read 8 books, and I only gave one of those books a 5-star review. (It was Left Neglected by Lisa Genova, BTW.) I have three 4-star ratings on there, which means I have only read a total of 4 above-average books in 2011, which is only a 50% above-average rate.
Which I guess, technically, makes sense because, by definition, only 50% of something can be above average. Except I don't grade my books on a curve, and also they don't represent a random sampling of all the books in the world. Since I choose books I think I will like, I expect that I will rate most of my selections as "above average."
I haven't found too many books in 2011 that have just grabbed me. You know, like the kind of books where you just can't wait to get back to them? And, for me at least, I think I gain momentum as a reader when I find a book that is truly addictive; after a book like that I'm more excited about reading in general.
Take, for example, the Twilight saga. Prior to reading those books, I wasn't an avid reader. I hate to credit something as trashy as Twilight as being responsible for rekindling my love of books, but truthfully my book slump had more to do with lifestyle factors than with the actual books I was reading. I had been a full-time working mom, and although I had time to read during my train commute, more often than not I was just too tired to concentrate. But I picked up Twilight just after I quit working and I was getting back into serious reading, and although those books are not great literature by any means, they were addictive. I loved that feeling of needing to read, all other responsibilities be damned.
After I got done with the Twilight saga, I admit there was a sense of relief. You can only ignore the rest of your life for so long. But the after-effect of the Twilight saga (other than a slight disappointment with my husband for being less-than-vampirelike) was a renewed love of reading. I don't remember when I read after Twilight, but I do remember that the post-Twilight era was one of very rapid book completion for me.
Anyway, that was a tangent. My point is, a good book can get you excited about reading all books. A boring book makes you want to spend your evenings watching reality TV.
(Side note: If there were some sort of fictional novelization of Hoarders, I would totally read that.)
My current book slump concerns that bestselling novel The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. This book is a fictionalized novel about Ernest Hemingway's first wife. Here's the thing, though. When you look at the Amazon reviews, it's like everyone loved this book. An abnormally-large percentage of readers gave it a 4- or 5-star review. Almost nobody rated it 2 or 3 stars, and it didn't get any 1-star reviews. And I don't like it. (I should note that I also didn't like Eat Pray Love, which many people cite as their own personal bible.) I feel like there is something wrong with me. What am I not getting about The Paris Wife? I understand that I am not required to like anything just because most other people like it, but I mean, come on ... no 1-star ratings?
But the thing is, Ernest Hemingway was a deranged philandering tool. And the wife is a giant pushover. You imagine she was the kind of person who would see her husband go into a fit of PTSD rage and say, "Oh dear," and then try to smooth things over by making a batch of scones and playing a minuet on the piano.
Oh, and in the book the Hemingways hang out with a cavalcade of other egomaniac greats from "The Lost Generation," Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein and the like. And they just think they are God's gift to the world because they spew out some sort of nonsensical drivel like "Toilet water graces the dawn on wings of coffee grounds."
And nothing happens in the book. Oh look! Another episode where we sit around a smoky cafe and drink absinthe while we talk about how we are so worthless we're awesome! And then suddenly I have to go to some random other European country where I'll sleep with a hooker because my marriage is not legally-binding in this country and besides there's a war going on here and that means none of this counts!
Have I made it clear that I neither understand nor like this book?
And yet, I have trouble giving up on reading it. Seriously, everyone else likes this book. I wonder if perhaps this is a case where people are overly-pretentious in their reviews. As in, Crap, it's about Ernest Hemingway and a bunch of other literary heavy-hitters from the early 20th century, and as an educated, enlightened person I have to say I like it!
So, in an attempt to erase this book from my mind (much like absinthe does), I have downloaded two YA books for my Kindle: Delirium by Lauren Oliver and If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I haven't started either one yet.
Oh and Tuesday: Tina Fey's book Bossypants!
Anybody else have any book recommendations for me?