When a Book Doesn’t Resonate with the Reader… {The Book Snob}

Sometimes I read a book and I can’t hardly put it down. In fact that’s what normally happens when I’m reading a fiction book. Even if it’s not a spectacular book, I still want to know what is going to happen next and how the author is going to resolve the conflict and what note the story will end on.

Every once in a while though, I find a dud. The kind of book that I finish more because I started it and I know I can learn from it and I have a mild case of curiosity surrounding it than because it’s actually interesting. Those books are easy to put down and rarely enter my mind until I pick them up again.

What’s sad is when I read a book by an author and really enjoy it and then I read another book by the same author (sometimes even in the same series) and I feel a very large case of ‘book-let-down-blues.’ Ugg!

Last night I finished a book I had been eager to gobble up because I’d read another book by the same author that delighted me and sucked me in. This book though? Sigh. I could barely muster up the enthusiasm to read it. In fact, I went and read another couple of books in the meantime and plodded my way through (ok, ok, so I only spent about two and a half days from the time I began the book until I ended it, but still!), and felt nothing pulling at me.

After finishing the book and feeling victorious that I could quietly file the book away, I began compiling the list in my head with the notes I’d stuck in my brain while reading about why the book didn’t resonate with me:

1. I didn’t connect with any of the characters
2. I didn’t even like the main characters
3. The character’s actions and reactions didn’t feel natural
4. The character’s thought processes were either lost on me or felt cliché
5. Some of the things one of the character went through were huge and I didn’t feel like they were addressed correctly
6. The way the story was told. It started at the middle and then went back and forth between the future and the past. That means that we had a huge ‘inciting incident’ right at the beginning, and yet I didn’t care about it sufficiently because who in the world are these people anyway? I’m pretty sure I would have liked the story a lot better if I could have read it chronologically
7. One of the huge pivot points to the plot is a clichéd pet peeve of mine and made me want to roll my eyes

Do you know what? This is the kind of thing that mildly freaks me out and I have to constantly refuse to let in my brain except for structured learning moments. And when I say this I’m referring to my great delight with the author’s one book, and a distaste for another one of the author’s books.

See,  I am an author. Yeah. I have people reading my books. Crazy, right? Ever since my first book got published I’ve had to fight off the fear, guilt and worry that someone will read one of my books and think it’s great and read another one of my books only to be let down. Because guess what, it’s going to happen. There is no way every single person who reads my books is going to enjoy every single one of them. And I don’t like that, because I don’t like letting people down.

With the book I was reading there’s a good chance that a lot of readers did resonate with the characters. That they could relate and care for and understand what the characters were going through. See, people don’t always think through things and see the world the same way that I do. Or the way you do. Or the way your great-grandma did. That means that some books will pull us in and some books won’t. It’s not that the author is doing a bad job, it might just mean that the book wasn’t your cup of tea. And that’s ok. It really, really is, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

And that my friends is what I have to remind myself of. I will write with my whole heart and learn and focus and grow and turn out the best books I can, but at the end of the day, not everyone’s going to enjoy them. And that’s ok. 

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