I went through a little book slump recently where nothing was just really clicking except for my favorite authors. After many discussions and whining with friends over not feeling our current reads, it got me thinking…
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS TOO MANY BOOKS?
I’ve been blogging for four years now and have literally read hundreds of books in the past few years. Obviously I was a reader before then but book blogging really amped up the number of books I have discovered, tried, and finished. As a casual reader before blogging, I would read a lot, sure. But it wasn’t until I started blogging that I started reading multiple versions at a time (especially since I only ever read physical copies before my blog, not at all interested in audiobooks or ebooks). I got to wondering… have I just read too many books?
I think most of if not all of us have certain genres that we love. First I binged all of the dystopian I could find but before long, I ended up tiring of the genre and things just didn’t feel like new ideas. I still can’t read a new dystopian book without comparing it to a popular series like The Hunger Games but part of that’s because of the elements that are really necessary in order for it to be classified as dystopian. There are so many things that are common in dystopian novels that it becomes hard to really separate them or to feel like what I’m reading is totally new and I haven’t felt the desire to pick up a new dystopian book in quite some time. I’ve started to feel that way recently about a lot of contemporary books as well. Have I just read too many books that things aren’t seeming as original anymore?
AN ONSLAUGHT OF GRIEF AND LOSS
I’ve exhausted myself on the disease/illness/loss of a love one concept but… it’s not like it’s a trope. It’s a part of life. Everyone goes through these experiences and the stories are important — that’s why they’re turned into books. I’ve experienced all of these things as well but right now I’m at the point in my life where I’m dealing with my own things in life and I just don’t want to take on the burden of a book character as I’m going through my own stuff. I also find it harder to read books about loss lately and the “heavier” books are just kind of bringing me down. I’m in the mood for action, adventure, or a cute and light romance. The heavy realistic novels just aren’t working for me at the moment so I’ve really been avoiding those to prevent further book slumps. I just started a book recently that I thought would be a fun summer romance — still serious and not fluffy, but a good romance to dig into — and it started off with a girl grieving for her mother who had just passed away. I immediately put it on hold because that was just more than I bargained for at the time.
I also feel like there’s just an onslaught of books that surround grief and loss. Again, rightfully so since this is something that anyone at any age may need to deal with or go through. Maybe because I’m avoiding it, I recognize it more often but I recently read a Publisher’s Weekly release and three out of four of the new YA deals were dealing with a recent loss. Maybe it’s just me but it does feel like it’s a lot of the market at the moment. I have no issues with other serious topics like mental health and books that share stories and raise awareness — I actually enjoy those books quite a bit. I think I’ve always been more connected to mental health and disorders and it’s the physical ailments that I’ve really started to avoid. They aren’t less important but they’re a bit harder for me to read right now.
On a different note, I have no issue with these topics in fantasy books! I’m thinking it’s probably because there’s so much else going on in the book and it’s not the main focus. If the main character in a fantasy book is grieving, that loss usually comes with a mission of some sort — revenge, honor, power, rights, retrieval of something — the grief may be a plot-starter but there’s so much more going on than that.
I’ve also started to feel like the writing styles for some newer books just isn’t as good as what I’m used to. Not everything has to be flowery or detailed or serious; I adore fluffy contemporary books as much as I do epic fantasy or serious realistic fiction… But I do feel like I’m not jiving with a lot of books lately because of the writing. It could be a style I’m not connecting with — though I’m not certain since I can’t quite pin it down — but I’m having a hard time with the writing in a lot of books recently. Passages that go on for too long, taking forever to get to a big plot point, cheesy dialogue, story and characters jumping around, too easily fitting into a stereotype — I just can’t seem to shake a lot of these notions as I read. I’m not judging. Hey, I’m not a writer by any means and if I were to write a book it’d probably be much worse than any published novel that I’ve read… but I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s not me and certain books are published because the topic and plot is important and the writing sort of got left by the wayside.
That comes back around to the “too many books” question. Have I just read so many books now that I have a certain standard I hold authors to? I know that’s not fair at all and I try to go into a new book with an open mind but I can’t help but notice that some of the writing in some recent reads just doesn’t seem up to par with some of my favorite authors. I feel bad for saying that because hey, not like I’m writing a book over here and who am I to judge someone’s writing when I’m not doing it myself? But as an avid reader and a book reviewer, writing styles and plot structure is something that I end up noticing and analyzing more. Sometimes I just feel like things could be so much more cohesive or flow a little better and those noticeable things in an author’s writing just end up throwing up red flags to me. Too many red flags and it makes it hard for me to continue reading a book. Often times my DNFs have nothing to do with the credibility of a plot and more so just if I’m even interested in what’s going on.
AM I TOO HARD ON BOOKS?
Am I just being too hard on these books? Sometimes I feel like I’m skipping over books that are okay in order to get to a book I will LOVE. I feel guilty that I may not have given the book a chance and I’m just being too hard on it because it’s not a book I’m in LOVE with. But then again, why SHOULD I continue a book that’s just okay? I know a lot of people don’t DNF, especially when it’s something that’s not actively turning them off, but anyone is allowed to put down a book for any reason. I try to ask myself, if I wasn’t blogging/if I hadn’t received this book for review, would I continue? If the casual reader in me says no, then I put the book down. Sometimes I feel like I’m being too hard on books, knowing that if I had finished that book, I probably could have given it three stars (though my rating scale is a bit skewed from the Goodreads scale — three stars for me is more “meh just okay” than actually “good”) but if I’m just feeling “meh” about a book, why should I feel forced to finish it? I do end up finishing a lot of three star books but those are ones where I have other issues but the book still holds my attention. My DNF-possible-three-star books are ones that I just wasn’t interested in the plot and I felt like the book wasn’t really going anywhere.
I do still feel like I might be holding any new books I read to a certain standard. I really have read SO many books that turned into favorites or books that I really enjoyed that I do find it hard to end up with a true five-star book anymore. Usually they’re from my favorite authors but there are a few that I just instantly fell in love with. Is that fair? Sure, why not. If my TBR pile keeps growing and there are potential five-star books on my TBR, why shouldn’t I skip over a book that is just “meh” and head straight for a book I’ll love? I DO try to finish what I start but sometimes it’s not worth forcing myself to finish a book that has lost my interest simply to finish it. I still provide feedback even if I don’t finish (though not as a formal review) so I am still reviewing it in some fashion. Not everyone will like every book and I think it’s fine to know what you like and head straight for it! When you read as much as we do, it’s hard not to have a certain standard, preferred writing style, or expectation. I think it’s inevitable. It’s just very hard when I encounter book after book that just doesn’t quite feel up to par to what I’m expecting and BAM. Book slumps galore.