Dear God… are you there? I need help finding a good book

January 15, 2006

Dear God (or Eminent Head of Publishing Company, whatever title you prefer)

I go through periods of extreme frustration on a regular basis. They occur whenever I am attempting to find a new book to read, and I end up spending the obligatory hours at Amazon.com, sifting through reviews, Listmania lists, and recommendations. And I find nothing.

Really.

Nothing.

Days go by. I sleep, wake up, watch TV to pass the time. I don’t read. Do everything but read. And then one fine day, I will stumble on some book, a review, a memory of an author, and ‘Disaster’ will be averted. I cling to the book like a lifeline, and at its inevitable end I cowardly jump straight to another by the same author, or even better, its sequel.

But finding new authors, new books with exciting new ideas in them, is a very hard process. And critics and booksellers don’t make my job any easier. I was told repeatedly and unendingly to read Saturday by Ian McEwan, Extremely Loud… by Safran Foer (which I tried and abandoned) or even the singular fantasy recommendation, Jonathan Strange… by Susanna Clarke. Later in the year it was The Historian, or A History of Love. Certainly the sheer wealth of positive reviews should urge me into reading (or completing) these books. But I only venture into such waters of “acceptable” reads tentatively, wanting to be part of their phenomenal admiration and love, but unsure if I fit into it. Sadly my approaches have only served to burn me, to turn me away from the bestseller lists, and caused me to return to my futile and frustrating search.

I search for a long lost brethren of my mind, a voice that echoes my needs of a compelling novel, compellingly written. I can only take so much abuse from an author (Rushdie for example tries my patience, and then breaks it completely), and the second criteria is nearly as important as the first. A case in point is Greg Bear, whose ideas on the future of human evolution drew me to his “Darwin” books like a fly to a pile of shit. My nose being a tad more sensitive, I endured through both books only with much painful wrinkling of the face in effort to disgorge the stink of a badly written novel, wasting an eminently great idea.

This is one my more rambling posts, but still what I am trying to (ineffectively) say is that finding a new book to read is perhaps one of the most discouraging cycles that figure in my life. I need to find a particular critic, a single blogger who shares my taste, who I can turn to during my frequent times of need and will be comfortable in the knowledge that I will find a good book waiting.

Till then, I shall frequently return to the well trodden pages of Ayn Rand, Robert Jordan, and James Clavell. For they have proven to be, time and again, welcome companions that never fail to amaze and entertain me, unlike the sour and often fickle tales of whatever passing fancy that currently dominates the bestseller lists.

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One Response to “Dear God… are you there? I need help finding a good book”

  1. Larvik bibliotek Says:

    Ever heard of the Norwegian author Lars Saabye Christensen? I thought of him when I saw which authors you like. Some of his books is available at Amazon.

    The Librarian


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