I have been told that I get unusually passionate about literature, movies and comics. It's true. I don't adhere to the widely accepted notion that it's important to be "cool" about things. Screw it, I'm a Romantic. I want to go out there and experience art with all my senses, including the sense (not generally considered one of the five, but it should in my opinion) of the emotions. I don't know why excitement and passion for things is not considere "cool" but I've never really been the sort tocare. Yes, I am absolutely scathing about some of the books I read. I have deep loves and hates for certain characters and authors, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
I've been meaning to write about a particular book I read recently, for weeks now. It's not because I think it's a great read, despite what the Man Booker Prize and Specsaver's Great Reads thinks. This book falls into a special category of books I call "the Recycables."
Maybe I ought to explain my Book Heirarchy First:
1. Excellent Book-
Very few of these of late it seems, but maybe I'm just reading less. A truly excellent book is given a place of honour on my book shelves where I can see it all the time. If it's a library book I may actually purchase the book in a store for myelf, just to have a copy around. These typeso f books will multiply in number as I buy them for friends and family as gifts or if there are different editions with different illustrations of it out there, like Treasure Island, or I need them for research. I may actually own more than one copy myself, but this is rare.
What I mean by the term "excellent" is that these are game changing books for me, books that powerfully influence my own writing style and the way I think. They don't have to be perfect books or be considered classics, but they have to be books that I feel speak to me on some visceral level, books that speak to my soul. Sometimes these books seem to echo my own experience. Other times they take me out of my world into a magical new land, providing a much needed escape. Whatever it is, these books speak to my soul in some unique irreplacable way. I may not feel as strongly about a particular book years later, but I still pay the book respect, as one would to a revered teacher of one's youth, for its ability to change my world view and enlarge my perspective of what is possible in the world and in human relationships. I find truly excellent books give one the girft of understanding a part of the world never understood before.
2. Good Books
These are also deserving of shelf space. They aren't neccessarily game changing, but they are pleasing, occassionally thought provoking read and provide a nice diversion. Often these may be the second or third books in a series.
3. Okay books
The merely okay books are the ones that were a little disappointing, that didn't deliver quite all that their covers promised, but weren't horrible enough to be despised or boring enough to be abandoned part way through, though they may have been skimmed over.
This category is sadly full of lots of books. There are a numerous reasons I may consider a book boring and abandon it. Sometimes the characters are very unlikable, unbelievable or uninteresting, so I don't want to read about them. Other times there isn't enough plot suspense or action to draw me in or the events of the story become too contrived, cliched or predictable. These are the books I say "I just couldn't get into." Often these are books everyone else just gushes over, but I just can't work up an interest for. Often I am stymied by what everyone else fancies so much about a book I consider derivative and populated by annoying characters.
While I may not like to read a boring book, most boring books are fairly benign creatures.
5. Irritating Books
This has nothing to do with the coarseness or lack thereof of the paper they're made of! These books are not neutral volumes, but books that make me feel actively annoyed, depressed, or disturbed and leave me frustrated at the other. It is true that many good books can cause these emotions, but they are justifiable reactions to the character's dilemas that you feel along with the characters, not something you feel from the outside, a reaction against the writer's overly blatant manipulation or poor craft.
It is also very frustrating when everyone else is completely ga-ga about the particular book and overlooks its many glaring faults and assumes YOU are the ignorant one for not understanding the novel's value because you don't think it is the best thing since sliced bread. These annoying books frustrate and irritate not because they are written by the author with any intent to do so-- but because they happen to be so bad that as a writer I can't help to feel the injusice of the fact that these pieces of crap were published rather than my more worthy (in my opinion at least) efforts. It is always upsetting to find yourself out of step with the world at large. It can make a person feel very lonely and misunderstood. It is even harder when it seems your livelihood depends on the very people you can't believe like this crap. I think to myself "is everyone in the grip of mass stupidity or am I so blind to this thing's appeal because I'm the stupid one?" But in the end, whether you're too smart or too stupid to appreciate a writing trend or a particular writer, the end result is the same: a profound sense of not belong to the world other people share, of being on the outside looking in again and feeling at odds with one's own culture and friends.
6. Books to be sent to the RECYCLING BIN!
A note first, about the others. okay, boring and annoying books I often sell off to second hand bookstores or donate to libraries or charity shops. It doesn't bring in much money, but when I'm broke or forced to move house or country, these are assets that can be liquidated without (much) guilt. While I know some of these books may not be my cup of tea, ther's no reason why they might not serve to make someone else happy and money is money.
The Recycables on the other hand are books that I don't keep or sell or give away. These are books I think are so particularly nasty that they must be removed from public circulation altogether to prevent the further spread of their noxious poisons. Alternatively, they may be books that betrayed me so cruelly or gave me brain burn (permenant disturbing images, burned into my brain forever) and this is my way of taking a pathetic sort of revenge on them, imagining them being ground up and slice and squelched into toilet paer and ugly cardboard boxes.
So now that you know about the definitions... on to my review of a book I sent to the recycling bin in a mist of rage and betrayal!