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Is It Me?

Updated: Mar 9

Have books changed too much, or have I not changed enough?

I was reading last night, and I noticed as I approached the 50-page mark or about 1/8 mark that I give to most books that I was not impressed by the piece. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t good, it just was.

The plot beats were recognizable. The characters were not bad, but they had a kind of “Decent vanilla ice cream,” feel to them. You might not go out of your way to find more of it but it wasn’t by any means offensive. I have a ninety percent certainty of the end of the story already, though I could be wrong.

I stopped reading for a moment, looked at my “recently read shelf.” AKA “find the right place to put these away but haven’t done so yet,” shelf. Then I looked at my, “to read shelf,” and almost put the book in hand on the “finished,” shelf. Then I read the titles and realized I had put down 6 out of 8 of the last fiction books I have started. Same reasons. “Meh,” or in one case a travesty of terrible.

When the ratio gets that high, I am forced to ask myself, is it me?

Has something fundamentally changed about how stories are being written? I checked them all. These are not indie published, they made it through agents, and major publishing houses. So that excuse many people pitch is out. These are considered the best stuff available then, right? So, what is happening?

I don’t have any good answer here. I am going to double down on more fiction for a while, as I have been focused on non-fiction almost exclusively for the last 4-6 months. If the trend keeps up, maybe I will read some of my old favorites to make sure my calibration is on point, then I might foist the same books on other people to see what they think!

It is a strange feeling to know that it is possible a genre can leave you behind. What worked in science fiction 30 years ago when I became a fan is not the same as what works in science fiction today. The same is true of fantasy, or even many mainstream books. I will finish the book that made me question my own taste, but I know I may just be getting out of touch.

I guess even in reading, it can happen that old dogs can’t learn new tricks.

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I love that you ask the question, is it me? So so many of the times I'm sure something is wrong, I know it's probably me but just don't see how or why until later. There are a number of books I have put down because I'm not in the emotional space to appreciate them just then. My life is too hectic for me to enjoy a slow thoughtful read, and I need some "fast food" with predictability to get some sense of accomplishment. There are other times when I'm disgusted with a predictable plot and characters or plots that aren't complicated/realistic enough for me and the simplicity keeps pulling me out. Mood has a massive impact on how o…


It's not just you. I have asked myself the same question on multiple occasions. I think the answer is just Capitalism. The publishers will publish the books that sell, and may turn down the ones that feed the intellectual mind. Classics are good, but they are a genre themselves. And, if you go to a bookstore, the cheapest books are usually the classics. The books that sell are the junk food. Also, people read books for different purposes. There's the self-help books for those that want to improve themselves in some way. There are the novels intended for escape-ism, to escape from the everyday drab and boring life. And then there are those for feeding intellect or learning something new.…

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