Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why don't I finish more books?

Today I discarded the third or fourth novel I've started this month.  I can't finish it.  I can't finish most novels I start. I want desperately to read a good story but can't find something that works for me. Why not?  There are a few reasons:

1.  Foul language. Contemporary fiction has so much foul language. Are we trying to be real?  I don't talk that way.  I know people who do, and I find them dull and annoying, and prefer not to spend time with them.  Same for fictional characters.

2.  Gratuitous casual sex.  Sick of it.  Nonmarital, extramarital (are those unbelievably old-fashioned words now?), straight, gay, I don't want to read it.  Related: stories in which infidelity (used to be called adultery) is treated as normal and has no negative consequences. 

3.  Stories in which all men are doofuses and all women are smart and capable.  Sick. Of. It.

4.  Overly sentimental stories.  Actually my first word for this category was "sappy." I know I will offend someone when I say that Christian romance fiction has got to be the biggest brain-musher I've encountered since I memorized Goodnight Moon.   Seriously.

5. Stories with too much conflict.  So much modern fiction is bleak.  "Family tragedy fiction," as I call it, piles on one horrid event after another.  A little bit of dysfunction is real; total dysfunction is depressing.

What makes you quit a novel?

And, what novels have you finished and enjoyed lately?

1 comment:

Sandy said...

Completely agree on #1 Can. Not. Finish. if you're going to fill it with curse words. Is there no actual writing ability that the author could have used instead?

I won't even bother if the story contains casual sex. If I wanted that in a story line I could just watch TV.

I don't know why anyone would want to read a story about dumb men. I do not find that compelling in a character and I don't need the PC male-bashing message. Ugh.

Though I have read more than my share over this last year when my brain couldn't handle anything else, I agree about the Christian Romance genre. Most of the time it isn't even romantic. Instead it is formulaic and preachy. It's sad, really. Once in a while I do find a good one, but not often. I can tell my burn-out is in recovery; my brain is starting to reject them and ask for real stories. There are a couple of authors I'm fond of, but other than those I think I can move on.

Tragedy Fiction is a good description. I do not need to read 400 pages for someone to tell me that life is meaningless. I try to weed out those worldviews before I start a book, but sometimes it's well hidden until chapter three.

I don't like any book that is obviously trying to sell me a belief system, even the Christian ones. I'd much rather read a good story and make up my mind from there. Stories make much better teachers than standard rhetoric.