I remember thinking in high school, how distant the years 2000 and 2020 seemed. It was during some of the worst years of the Cold War and one thing I thought as an eighteen-year-old know-it-all was, we’ll never make it. I’m glad I was wrong. But the Cold War gave me real recurring nightmares and a permanent aversion to apocalyptic fiction. Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing sits on my shelf, unread. I’ve read only one book about a pandemic, Stephen King’s The Stand, and that was mostly because of its size and my need to fill up twelve-hour shifts as a security guard in the pre-internet era.
In general, I’ve found it difficult to read anything in recent weeks. I’m behind on the short fiction I love. I know reading would be good for me, but it’s been a challenge to sit still and pull up a book or a short story. I’ve even had trouble reading poems.
Determination and Failure
So the other day I forced myself. I picked up a book I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. A book written by an author I like; with high praise by authors and people I respect. What I call mutual admiration marketing. I also picked up a book with good reviews but not much marketing or mentions by other authors. I selected it because it was a potential comp title to my own upcoming book.
The first book, one I was looking forward to reading for the better part of a year, has significant structural and character flaws. Flaws I expect editors at a trade publisher to fix. The book isn’t terrible, but it is a big disappointment and I’m not sure I’ll finish it. I’m not naming it because I might finish it, and I could decide I like it better than I do now. There is an interesting enough plot to keep me wondering what happens. At least a little.
The other book, The Library of the Unwritten, by A. J. Hackworth, seems to have had little formal marketing and not much buzz from fellow writers. What excitement I saw was from readers and book bloggers. The people who read it loved it and were vocal about it. I’m loving it too. And I wonder why this book didn’t get the same amount of mutual admiration marketing. The author is well-respected within the community, as far as I can tell. Why aren’t other writers and book industry people crowing about this book?
I know; it’s an eternal mystery. Taste is individual. But Hackworth’s book doesn’t have the number of technical flaws, which are less subjective than taste. I haven’t finished it yet, so the ending could disappoint me, but so far, it’s a great book.
How do you find books? What types of recommendations work best for you? Blogger buzz, reader buzz, author buzz, Amazon or Goodreads reviews?
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