So, this is the least baked of all the half-baked ideas. In fact it's almost raw, because I don't exactly know why, when I hate a book, I keep reading it. I know there are a whole lot of you out there who will start a book, find it's not to your liking, and put the book down, never to pick it up again, and go merrily on your way.
I am not like that.
There is a certain mid-level type of book, a book I just don't get drawn into, that I can leave in the first chapter or so. But a book that rubs me the wrong way? That really, for some reason, pisses me off? I finish it. Almost always.
Why is this? Here's my half-baked theory, replete with (as all the best half-baked theories are) fake psychology. You know that whole "Hate isn't the opposite of love, indifference is the opposite of love" thing that many people feel compelled to point out? That. Essentially: my hating these books was evidence of some strong response I was having to something in the books. This goes along with: it's better to be hated than to be ignored, etc etc. That is part of the theory. (Is this even a theory?) The other possible reason is less charitable both toward book and reader, which makes me think it's somehow more likely to be true: I think on some level I just want to be pissed off at the book. It's like some warped relationship where I'm (metaphorically) driving around with the hated book in the car and saying "God, you're always like this. I just knew you'd be like this. Look, there you are doing it again!" And the book is muttering under its breath and doing the same irritating thing over and over.
Does this make sense? I mean as a semi-coherent idea, not as in "Gee, what a great way to enjoy the pleasures of reading."
I don't know what this feeds in me. I don't go looking for books I hate, I just come upon them and then we go along together through an 8-day or so nasty sniping period and then we gratefully break apart and I try to find a book I like better. Books that make me particularly irritable? Like so:
Unpleasantly lyrical. If the back says "lapidary prose," this is a warning.
Sure of their own rightness. Is this a political or a cultural problem? I don't even know, I just know it as an "Oh no, it's trying to convince me of something."
Am I alone here? Are you guys strong enough to start hating a book and just put it aside? Or do you have to berate it all the way to the end, then part grumbling?
Oh, and the kids? They don't seem to have this problem. I am envious.