When I put one book on top of another book, I always feel bad for the one on the bottom :/
In other news, I just read a book
It’s You Don’t Know Me, by David Klass, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I say, I just read a book, I mean that I picked up a book because I needed to read about half of it for a class and I read the whole thing. I don’t normally do this. Even my favorite books sometimes take weeks for me to finish, but I couldn’t put this one down. It has one of the best narrators ever. READ IT.
Is it weird that even though Goodreads keeps track of the books I read, I still want to keep a written log in case the internet dies forever?
A Rant on “Boring”
I will never accept “boring” as a legitimate literary criticism.
“OMG why do we have to read this? It’s so boring!”
“I couldn’t get more than 5 pages into it, the story was just too boring.”
“I can’t believe you like that book! The whole thing bored me to tears.”
When a reader tells me that a book is “boring,” they aren’t actually saying anything at all. They aren’t telling me what was wrong with the writing or the author’s use of setting. They aren’t commenting on the plot or character development. They aren’t letting me know about the social criticism or use of foreshadowing. They’re simply saying “Ugh, I didn’t want to finish it.” And that’s just a lazy review.
Using the word “boring” as a descriptor shows me that this person isn’t a conscious reader. While I wholly believe that they didn’t like the book, calling it “boring” usually means that they don’t understand why they had a bad experience with it. It’s a blanket statement that can cover any number of variables, so using it means that the reviewer hasn’t put forth the effort to think too hard about analyzing their feelings.
You see, “boring” is a personal descriptor that changes from reader to reader. What I find boring may excite the person next to me, while their ideal adventure/drama will absolutely bore me to tears. It isn’t a universal term that actually carries weight. If that were true, the game of chess would already be dead and middle school history teachers would be burned on the cross. (Oh, the horror!)
Even if we’re only looking at one person’s interests, “boring” can be inconsistent. What is fun in one context may suddenly become boring in another. Just think of your favorite song: Listening to it on the radio after weeks devoid of music can be a thrilling and amazing experience. Put your windows down, drive fast down the highway, sing it at the top of your lungs: It’s enough to make you want to hold onto that feeling for days afterward and soak up the world. But if you’re sitting in your grandmother’s living room during a family gathering when the song comes up on the radio, it might not be enough to drown out your uncle’s discussion of his latest colonoscopy. You’ll probably still be tired, slightly grossed out, and desperate to get away from the questionable cheese and crackers being served. That song isn’t enough to shake you from your boredom and it’s possible that the stale environment around you is enough to stop you from even noticing that music is playing.
Did the song suddenly get boring? Is the song to blame at all?
Of course not. The boredom is instead an emotion that settled inside of you as the culmination of your environment and mood. One aspect, such as a book that you are trying to read, may heavily contribute to it. But it is just as likely that the rest of your environment, such as sitting in a lumpy chair within a hot high school English classroom, is coloring your experience. So it’s necessary to examine the text further in order to figure out where this boredom came from and what you are reacting against.
“But wait!” I’m sure you’re all yelling from behind your computer screens. “You could argue this for any emotion! Am I not allowed to call a book ‘sad’ just because someone out there might not get teary-eyed from the writing? Is it impossible for a book to be ‘exciting’ just because James Bond finds the action too mundane?”
To an extent, you’d be right. You’re running this risk any time an emotion or feeling is used to describe a book. After all, it’s not the writing itself that is inherently “thrilling” or “depressing.” Instead, those are the emotions that the author evokes from you. Identifying this distinction is a great part of being a conscious reader and is nothing to be scoffed at. But saying “The book made me feel bored” expresses a different sentiment than “The book is boring,” even though a reviewer may say one while meaning the other.
So when reviewing or recommending books, try to stay away from the word “boring.” Instead, describe what made you feel bored in the first place. Was there too much world building in the first chapter? Do the characters have a ton of dialogue about their everyday routines? Is the book about a subject that doesn’t interest you? Identifying why a piece of writing is boring will not only help you become a better reader, but it will stop you from sounding like a whiny teenager. And no one likes a whiny teenager.
It’s incredibly hard to read through a long text post about the word “boring”… but I did it and I agree.
Horrible Book Reviews
The Book: ”One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey
Reviewed by “Sarah Truly Asia” on Goodreads:
The book is verbatim the movie. I wasn’t impressed. The main character was the Indian not Randle Patrick McMurphy. I think the movie was GREAT and the book was too predictable. Maybe I should use another word other than predictable. The book was predictable because I saw the movie before reading the book, but Randles character intrigues me and I wanted to know more about him not the Indian.