When I was a kid, I often found it to be very different to find books. I’d go to the library or I’d go to Barnes and Noble, and I’d spend hours upon hours looking through all the books–most of which I’d seen before–and I’d MAYBE find a book that looked interesting enough to buy. And the reason for that was pretty simple: I wanted a book that would make me feel the same way that the authors I loved (David Weber, Elizabeth Moon, Isaac Asimov, David Eddings, etc) had made me feel. And the truth is, that’s not easy. Even cookie-cutter books don’t provide easy to understand effects. Imitations tend to have less effect on a reader than an original has (and, of course, some the writers I liked, such as David Eddings, were already imitators, so what I really wanted was an imitation of an imitation). So if you’re reading imitations, you’re doomed to be disappointed, because you’re only going to get a diluted version of the impact that the original had.
What I wanted was books that were original enough to make me feel excited and interested, but also imitative enough that I felt like I could understand what I was getting. As a result, I pretty much only read good books by accident. As in, I’d pick up a book, and it would SEEM like an imitation, but then I’d read it and find, GASP, it actually had something new to say (and then I’d promptly start looking for imitations of it, of course).
Nowadays I don’t do that. When I’m having trouble finding books, my first instinct is: “Ahh, maybe what I want is to read something completely different!”
But that has its own challenges. Sometimes I feel like there’s so much stuff in the world and I can’t wait to read ALL of it. But other times I feel profoundly bored. Since I’m looking for something I’ve never felt before, it’s just hard to feel very excited about it. That’s especially true for someone with my personality–I just am not a huge fan of the unknown.
For the last month or so I’ve been feeling a little blah about reading, which culminated in me reading some stuff that I knew I’d sort of enjoy–Neal Stephensons latest, and a handful of Elmore Leonard novel. Not imitations, and not terrible, either. But certainly not an example of me reaching for something new.
Now, though, I feel refreshed, and I feel more hopeful about literature. Anyway, we’ll see. We will see.