Friday, January 27, 2012

Some Thoughts on Boring Books And The Game of Thrones Series

I love to read.  I used to force myself to finish every novel I started even if, after a few chapters, I hated the book and had no interest in how it ended.  Case in point: Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow.  A trusted friend insisted it was "significant" and "excellent."  These are my thoughts on Gravity's Rainbow: (1) I did not like it; (2) in fact, I hated it; (3) but I read all 700+ pages just because my friend had recommended it; and (4) I am no longer friends with that person.   

After Gravity's Rainbow, I adopted a new philosophy about my leisure reading: (1) I will only read fiction that I actually want to read; and (2) if the book sucks, I don't have to finish it.  I'm not an English professor, literary critic or publisher of avant garde literature.  There's no reason I should ever suffer through a misanthropic-existential-groundbreaking-tome.  (Unless the tome is written by a loved one - in which case, I will carefully weigh how much I love the author). 

Last summer, I started reading the Game of Throne fantasy series.  I devoured Book One (720 pages), Book Two (1040 pages) and Book Three (1216 pages).  I thought I had found a series that could fill the void in my heart left by Harry Potter.

I started Book Four (1104 pages) in the fall.  It was slow and disappointing, but I persevered because I loved the first three books so much. 

After I finished Book Four, I was angry at the book's editors.  The book was slow, boring and far too long.  Look, I've read and loved plenty of long books, but if you are going to publish a book that is more than a thousand pages long, it still needs to be interesting.  In fact, a 1000+ page book needs to be extra interesting in order to justify the time investment.  I realize the Game of Thrones series is popular and has been turned into a snazzy HBO series, but that doesn't mean the publisher gets to publish a boring bloated book.  Book Four should have been 500 or 600 pages, tops.  Instead, I slogged my way through 1104 pages of a snoozefest because the first three books were so damn good.

I started Book Five (1040 pages) in December.  From the beginning, I resented the book, the author, the editors and the criminal waste of paper (even though I was reading an electronic version!)  I kept trying to push through the book, but it felt like a homework assignment for my least favorite class. 

Around the 300 page mark, I broke up with the book.  As a fantasy novel, it's the book's job to keep my attention; it's not my job to stay interested in the book.  I used to feel like a failure when I stopped reading a book, but now I realize that I'm not the failure: the book/author/editor/publisher are the ones who have failed.