Monday, March 23, 2015

Good Reading

I can go years at a time between reading really excellent books. Well, I guess the same could be said of someone who barely reads. But I actually read quite a bit, I think. It's just that I think words should mean something, and not every author who bangs away at a keyboard has, upon growing tired of banging, produced something "amazing." Not every book is a five-star book. Something most people seem not to realize is that on GoodReads it's the TWO-star rating that means "liked it." Not three. (Currently on my GoodReads account, of the 866 books I've rated, I have given 68 five-star ratings, which is 7.85%.)

The culture disagrees with me, it seems. Every actor or actress describes all his or her co-stars as "amazing." My wife and I were recently reading through the GoodReads reviews of some decidedly middling books and were dismayed with how much hyperbole was employed. "I absolutely LOVED this book!!!!!" started most of them.

I know that criticism is easy and creation is hard. I'm not looking down my nose at these authors. They've created books that are probably better than mine. (Some of you have read my novels. The fact that you prefer to pretend you haven't is confirmation of my surmise.) But I also think I do artists a favor by describing only truly extraordinary achievements as, in fact, extraordinary.

This is why I'm very surprised that I'm currently reading two very great books. They are For Zion by Joseph M. Spencer and The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen. They are both great enough that I will have long blog posts detailing my responses later. But for now, I'm very happy that, when I finish a chapter of a great book, I get to read a chapter of another great book. My reading these days is very enjoyable.

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