For something over a year, I’ve been posting monthly lists of what books I’ve read, what I started and stopped reading, and what I’m currently reading.
Part of it is just to keep track for myself, but since I… y’know… post them to social media, it’s also been intended as a potential conversation starter. Thus far, that hasn’t happened, and for that I blame you personally.
But let’s not dwell on that.
I’m in the position lately of having already consumed everything I can, or currently want to, of favourite writers. Which started me on an unfortunate trend in the last few months of taking advantage of a lot of free ebooks that were offered up in a daily ‘cheap and free ebooks’ newsletter I receive.
I don’t want to suggest that all cheap or free ebooks aren’t worth your time. Not only is enjoyment of a book wholly subjective—all of the books I started and stopped, whether it was within the first few pages or half way through, had received plenty of high ratings from those who had offered their opinions, and yet, they weren’t for me—but the fact is that on at least one occasion, a book that I had loved (Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel) later found itself offered at a vastly reduced price in that same newsletter.
I could say with absolute certainty that the vast bulk of those newsletter books—so very close to all of them—haven’t panned out well for me.
Listen, if a demonstrably super attentive, dangerous body guard has been assigned to your protagonist, then the main character isn’t just giving him the slip when it’s convenient for the story by leaving him on the beach and offering to buy him ice cream and changing clothes as she heads into a crowd. He’s not falling for what literally amounts to, ‘Look that way for a few minutes.’ Sorry.
If, aside from the inciting incident, more than half of your book is told exclusively in the second person so we can follow your supernatural detective on his case, but then he gets separated from his charge and we’re suddenly following her instead, that’s a big enough bump to make me put the book down.
If in the first three pages of the story your killer has gone through some cockamamie steps to get his next victim to his house and then explains his whole process to her as she’s seizing up from the drugs he put in her drink (informing her that she’s his next victim in the process), I’m gonna go ahead and pass on the book. Evidently not everyone felt the same way, but that’s me.
Suffice to say, the run of unfortunate cheap/free reads led me to put out a social media call for recommended books and authors. And that’s worked out so much better. Not flawlessly, of course, because it’s all still subjective, but it’s something I should’ve done earlier and shall strive to do more often.
Just to clarify, by the way, I’m still grabbing some free books as they come up, I’m just trying to do it with a more preemptively critical eye. To paraphrase a late friend, life is too short for bad books.
I’ll post my May list at the end of the month, but in the mean time, here’s last month’s list, which was entirely recommended title