In which the author contemplates books and roads, and almost catches hypothermia
January 4, 2012 § 7 Comments
Yesterday, as I was waiting for a bus that never came, I found myself in a deep, contemplative frame of mind, most likely caused by the early stages of hypothermia. I’ve been thinking a lot in the last year about what makes a book “good,” and as I stood waiting, I found myself led down that line of thought. There are plenty of books that I enjoy that, truth be told, are not the best-written things in the world. Likewise, there is no shortage of books that are wonderfully written that I should like, but can’t bring myself to enjoy (or even finish).
It occurred to me as I began to lose feeling in my fingers and toes that books are a lot like roads; they take you all sorts of places. Just like roads, some of the places books take me I enjoy because they are beautiful or astounding or I wanted to get there, while other books I don’t enjoy for the inverse reasons. Now, if a road is taking me somewhere I don’t care to go, it doesn’t matter how well-paved the road is, I still don’t want to be driving it. On the other side of the same coin, if a road is taking me somewhere I really want to go, but is windy and full of potholes, it can distract from the journey (and occasionally induce vomiting, which, coincidentally, is the same affect poorly-written books have on me).