I came down with a horrible virus last week. Feverish and coughing, all I could do was read. Too sick to even feel guilty for not writing. Lucky for me I'd massively stocked up during my last trip to the library. And I was ready to sink my teeth into a good book. My book club just met on Monday to discuss a book that disappointed all of us - The Ask, by Sam Lipsyte. It is getting amazing press and accolades, and was supposed to be spectacularly funny. We're all smart, multi-degreed women, and yet the book left us flat. Flatter than flat? Let's just stick with disappointed. We try to stretch ourselves outside the comfort zone in book club. Sometimes it works, and sometimes we sift through a stack of rave reviews for something we had trouble finishing!
To get back to my point, I needed a palate cleanser. A book I'd enjoy, no matter what. I turned to my comfort food of literature - romance. And the strangest thing happened; for once I wasn't satisfied. To my shock, I discovered my brain was picking apart the book as if my crit partners had submitted it for review. I'd linger on a page, distressed by word echoes and flat dialogue. Maybe it was the fever making me act crazy, but I tossed it aside without finishing it - an unheard of occurrence in my house.
Panic set in. Had I become a book snob? Hard to believe, since I've disliked several of the recent Pulizter winners. And I'm the first to admit that I'm no Edna Ferber. Had I spent so long in the trenches, dissecting romance for any potential weakness that I couldn't just enjoy it anymore?
Luckily, quantity leads to quality. The next book I dove into was by Cathie Linz, and it was a delightfully fun read. Encouraged, I moved on to Louisa Edwards On the Steamy Side, which I highly recommend. It reaffirmed my love of good romance. Multi layered plot, witty dialogue, great twists and most importantly, her writing made me root for the characters as well as believe in them. Loved it! I finished up my book-a-palooza with Shanghai Girls. Much more serious, definitely not a romance. I soaked up the rich historical details, relished the complex relationships and searing drama. This book confirmed it. To my relief, I haven't turned into a book snob (because really, how much fun can those people have?). But I do love books - good books - and don't want to waste my time on anything less.