I have read THREE books in a row that made me cranky.
ONE: A book that was on the Librarian Picks shelf. It was apocalyptic fiction, which means it goes in my library bag whether or not it's on the L.P. shelf. Then I read about 3 pages, thought, "What on earth is going on here?" and checked the cover to read the plot summary again to try to remember why I'd chosen it---and noticed it was published by a Christian publisher. Ah. That explains it. I tried another few pages just in case, but no. Apocalyptic fiction can have religious themes, and it can even have a subtle message ("Look what will happen to us if we don't stop experimenting with crop chemicals!")---but it's ruined if it's PREACHY.
TWO: Then I read Dan Chaon's Stay Awake, which is a book of pleasingly creepy short stories. I liked them very much, but they were kind of sad (lots of stress and death themes), and I couldn't figure out what was going on in ANY of them. So again and I again I was in a state of unsatisfied suspense, which made me feel irritable and stupid. Then I spent a couple of hours online trying to find stuff written by people who HAD figured them out, and all I could find was (1) one hint that did in fact let me figure out one single story---making it feel as if I should be able to figure out all the others, and (2) a lot of people saying most stories COULDN'T be figured out, which made me cranky because I don't like to be toyed with like that, plus I was frustrated because I'd wasted so much time looking for something that didn't exist.
THREE: Then I read a book that I NEVER would have chosen if it hadn't been on the Librarian Picks shelf, and this book CLOSED THE DOOR on the L.P. shelf for me. It was narrated by a dog. The dog had a lot of insightful observations to make about human beings (we should listen more! we only get sick and die because we BELIEVE we will! and we should live in the NOW, just like the racecar driver who constantly anticipates the future and repeatedly watches tapes of the past! ...wait, what?). And it was sentimental/weepy fiction written by a man. Some people right now are going to want the name of the book because this is exactly their thing; for me, that is like the perfect trinity of unreadability. AND YET I READ IT ALL THE WAY TO THE END because I had to know how the unearned-suspenseful plot was going to resolve, so then I felt irritable and crabby but had only myself to blame. That's an unhappy place to be, let me tell you.
No, wait, it's FOUR cranky books, because before these three I read Unorthodox!
Now I'm reading Richard Russo's Bridge of Sighs, and if I don't like it I'm going to spend the weekend reading People magazine and watching television.
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