It's been too long, I know - but I suppose I haven't been thinking about anything in depth lately. With the holidays over and the new year starting to feel real, it's time to get back into the swing of things.
So, a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I had to thin out our bookshelves. There's only so much room, and as painful as it is to get rid of books -- well, it just has to be done. I now understand why it's so tough to find a good book at yard sales -- those are the books that people are getting rid of, because they didn't like them very much and didn't see the need to keep them!
Anyway, during these clean-outs I always manage to find books that I purchased a while back, with every intention of reading. Somehow they fell to the bottom of the TBR pile, and then the pile got too big and they got moved to a shelf, and then they got pushed to the back, only to see the light of day again many years later.
I found books that I bought in 1985, 1992, and 1993 -- good hardcovers that never got cracked open. The 80s and 90s are an interesting period -- the genre started to change around then (not necessarily for the better, but that's a different story). Like most book buyers, I spend my book dollars carefully, so all of these had to be books that I thought worthy of the price at the time.
It was a bit like finding a buried treasure, and I started reading them with gusto.
I just finished the third of the three, and guess what? They all SUCKED! One was just dull, with a ridiculous, convoluted plot that made no sense. It was only 150 pages, but it felt so much longer. The second was a late entry in a police procedural series that seemed utterly phoned in. The third was by a writer -- actually quite famous and successful -- whom I have somehow managed not to read. It was the worst of the bunch. Too long by 200 pages, too obvious, too trite.
All of this made me wonder -- Do we readers have a sixth sense about books? I can't remember exactly what I was doing in 1985, 1992, and 1993 (probably yelling at my kids), but I do know that when a book grabs me, it takes on a certain urgency. For some reason, these books never took on that urgency. Did I look at the covers (two of which are quite bad) and think -- "I don't have a good feeling about this"? Did I read the first page or two and think, "Hmm, this doesn't seem promising -- better save it for later?" Did I remember hearing one or two people say that Famous Author was totally overrated, which put me off reading that book because I respected the people who said that -- only to find, decades later, that they were absolutely right?
I'd been hoping that those three books were hidden gems lurking in the bookcase. Turned out they were mouse turds.
Still, it was worth a try.