Confessions of the Unread

OMG! I’ve been reading the same book since November; I’m still not done. This situation is not normal.

<I shake my aching head.>

I eagerly awaited this book. It’s the final installment of a series that I love, a series that I discovered and read within two years. I finished reading each book within a couple days. I laughed and cried over these books. I highlighted the books’ fantastic lines. When I thought of a poignant plot moment, I read the entire series again. I eagerly anticipated the series’ end.

I don’t understand it. Why haven’t I finished the last book?

I haven’t lost my reading mojo. This book is approximately 250 pages, just a couple hundred pages. That’s nothing to an avid reader. For someone who’s anticipated the book for six months, 200 pages is a same day read. I read several books per week. I’ve read so many other books and series while I trying to read this one. In fact, I finished a 20-book series back-to-back without hesitation. I excel at binge reading.

Binge reading. I race through books whether they’re sci-fi, fantasy, or romance. There’s no need to rush, yet I do. Because I want to read just one more chapter before I sleep. Then I want to reach the climax. Oh, then I need the protagonist to discover the truth. The stories are so exciting I can’t stop despite early hour on my alarm clock and my swiftly approaching wake up time.

And Pain (book 5 of Cursed by the Gods) is exactly what I love to read—i.e., supernatural, romance, reverse harem. So there’s nothing wrong with the story. Well, that’s not true. The characters are all wrong for me. Somehow, the characters ruined the story for me. They changed. The protagonist is no longer the happy-go-lucky klutz I came to love and laugh with. I admit it; after waiting for months, speculating since the beginning, I no longer care about the character’s ending.

To be completely honest, this isn’t the first time I didn’t finish a book. And some of the reasons are kind of silly. I can’t read Mark Twain because I hate the southern accents. I find the language grating and written pronunciations difficult to follow. I never read more than a few pages.

Recently, I started and stopped a few books—like A Simple Favor by Darcy Bell even though I liked the movie—because of their tones, too.

I couldn’t finish Le Guin’s Gifts because its pace was too slow.

I can’t read any Neil Gaiman books because I dislike his style.

<My head falls as I cup my heated cheeks.>

Yes, I confess: I don’t like some of the most popular sci-fi and fantasy authors out there. Disliking these treasured authors created so much doubt for me. Am I too dumb for the genre? Has binge reading stripped me of my appreciation of nuance?

Then I delve into excuses. I suspect rebellion. I read authors like Le Guin and Gaiman (and ah, ahem, Octavia Butler) because they were popular, not because I was interested. I worry that mentally they’ve become the line I’ve drawn simply because I’m stubborn. Like how I refused to watch the Godfather movies. (Yep, never.) Now, it is the badge of my uniqueness.

Maybe, I’ll like them later, right?

However, with this confession and a few mantras, a weight has lifted. Not finishing a book doesn’t mean the books are bad. Not finishing a book isn’t shameful. Not finishing a book leaves time to finish a different book.

I realize it’s not just about admitting my dislikes, it’s about admitting preferences. Admitting I like romance–the somewhat predictable, touchy-feely, and occasional formulaic writing–or even fantasy–the magic of the unreal–over sci-fi–the thoughtful stories that challenge readers’ perceptions–seems wrong. If I’m intellectual, then I would prefer a thought-provoking story, right? What does it say about me that I don’t enjoy innovative writing, embodiment of the genre, and a classic in the making? Don’t great minds appreciate great works?

However, my confessions’ effects are two fold: worrying that another genre seems smarter than mine seems petty. Maybe. Sometimes. If I love it, does it matter? And I am not alone since not everyone appreciates the classics and the popular.

I know. I know. Just read the book.