Don’t get me wrong. I can’t stop reading, even if I wanted to, which I don’t. I’ve read while walking down halls. I’ve read while getting blood drawn.(1) I’ve read under the blankets while sleeping on a sofa and nearly melted the Naugahyde. I’ve read when there was nothing to read but the label on a ketchup bottle.
I have always read books straight through to the end, too, no matter what. It seems wrong somehow not to finish a book that I’ve started.
Then came The Horror Novel.(2) The set-up started okay – it didn’t jump right into gore and heads in the microwave. It introduced the characters, like a good novel should. They were a couple, an architect and a stockbroker. They were extremely good-looking, seriously wealthy, and lived in a fine house with all the amenities. You were supposed to feel good about them and – well, horrified – when creepy things started happening to them.(3) Instead, I was rooting for the monster, whatever it was, to slaughter this ridiculous Ken and Barbie. And prevent them from reproducing, if at all possible. And tear down their marvelous house and set the rubble on fire.
I stopped reading, knowing that, in the end, the monster would be vanquished and I would be disappointed – nay, angry.
Now if a book makes me want to throw it against the wall, I abandon it.(4) I feel just a teensy bit guilty when I do, but I’m getting older and my time is limited. I can’t squander it on mediocre fiction or dry-as-dirt nonfiction.(5) There are so many books in the world that I’ll never get through all the ones I want to read.
Nowadays my to-read stack reaches the virtual ceiling and rivals my three floor-to-ceiling bookcases, plus the stacks in my closets, where most women keep shoes.
But at least now I can carry them around in my purse.
(1) I think they struck ink.
(2) Never my favorite genre anyway, unless it’s by Mira Grant.
(3) The first creepy thing was that they came home to an exquisite candlelight dinner that neither one of them had fixed. Oooh, yeah. Make me shudder.
(4) And not just because I use an e-reader and would be destroying my entire collection.
(5) Though I did keep around a biography of Prince Albert – the most boring book ever about the most boring man ever – in case I should run out of Ambien.