I love to read. Fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, general fiction, thrillers, or anything that catches my eye. The problem being that I’m something of an introvert and I don’t really have friends in the real world. This means that my book recommendations usually come via online reviews or just randomly picking one off the shelf. Yes, I still prefer a real book to a Kindle or a Nook. Don’t get me wrong, having an Ebook library on my laptop is awesome, but I don’t use it nearly enough to justify spending $40-$200 on an eReader tablet.
As I usually go for the Top 100 lists of a genre for online stuff it means I get to pick from the ‘cream of the crop’ as I’ve been led to believe. Buying into such hype I recently plunked down some of my hard earned Amazon bucks to purchase The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I wrote a review about it once I was done. To sum up, it was good. Nothing groundbreaking or amazing like I had been led to believe.
This led me to realize that a lot of the recommendations, especially those ‘Top 100’ lists out there aren’t really that good. Sure, at the time there might have been some interesting technique or twist, but that was 20+ years ago in some cases. Writers have assimilated your tactics to enhance and better them.
In high school we had to read The Once and Future King. To this day I still groan when I see something to do with King Arthur. IT WAS THAT BORING. I’ve heard Mists of Avalon is good -from my wife, not a faceless online source- but I can’t bring myself to pick it up.
I’m beginning to think that these ‘Top’ books that everyone loves are just kind of a status thing. Obviously, if you don’t like the book, you just didn’t get it.
No, I got it and I didn’t like it.
Case in point: The Game of Thrones By George RR Martin.
With the success of the TV Show on HBO everyone is going out to read the books. Well, everyone who knows that it was a book and wants more. About 8 years ago my friend recommended the book to me. At the time he was the DM to an RPG group I was in and some of his cool ideas were inspired (read:copied) from the series. Not to mention he just found a Game of Thrones source book and wanted to start a campaign with it. He lent me his copy of the book and I started reading.
Have you seen these books? I’m not just talking about the hardcovers but the paperbacks are as thick as a phone book. I set my shoulders and started reading. And reading. And reading. I slogged through a good 200 pages before I just tossed my hands up and gave the book back. When I told him my reason for giving it back was that it was ‘boring’ he balked at me and told me if I got to the second book it was all about a war.
I didn’t care.
The daughter who wanted to be a fighter and the princess who married the barbarian were the only two characters I cared about. Other than that, meh.
Yes, I only thought The Name of the Wind was good and I found The Game of Thrones boring. Tamora Pierce The Song of the Lioness is good for an entrance to fantasy, William Gibson really delivers in his Sprawl series, and The Riverworld series is worth reading if you overlook some dated concepts. Roger Zelazny made me believe in Amber. I found Robin Hobb’s Fitz to be an interesting character, but the story elements were so ‘classic’ that it was a paint-by-numbers affair. John Scalzi has yet to disappoint me, but I’ve only read Redshirts and Old Man’s War. Larry Niven I find long winded and I’m not really enchanted by Terry Goodkind.
There you have it.
I wouldn’t mind going back and rereading some of the books I didn’t care for when I was younger. A bit of perspective might enhance them.