As we journey through life we meet and befriend new people. Some of them stay with you for your whole journey from the point of meeting, others are seen less frequently as time goes by due to changing circumstances and some you just can't wait to be rid of as you realise the more you get to know them they are real "doozies". A girl I know talked recently how she easily befriends new people accepting them at face value and allows them into her circle of friends because that is just the kind of person she is - caring, compassionate, friendly, lively, loving etc. However, after being burnt by people who don't reciprocate the warmth and have in fact turn out to be loopy she has decided to be a bit more choosy in her future befriending efforts. This is an excellent policy.
However, what if we don't befriend those nutters? I believe our journey may be less fulfilling as we aren't taught the lessons we need in finding what we are looking for. The experiences we have become warning bells when we meet someone with similar traits. All very complicated but lessons need to be learnt.
To my main point, books are like friendships. You need to have bad book experiences in order to teach you what you really want to read. That's not to say you shouldn't read those other books to begin with as you will learn a lesson from them. I have read books when I was younger that have stayed with me and set the tone for future choices. Historic fiction is my chosen genre. But I know that I need to read other books to grow in my understanding of books and in order to appreciate my choices. I have read those "nutter" books that have seemed great (The Lucy Family Alphabet by Judith Lucy) at the time of reading but reflecting on the experience it was pretty awful and I won't be going there again. Or there are the books that just seem to stay with you even though they are not a positive influence (Jessica by Bryce Courtney - I usually enjoy his books but the last scene in this still gives me nightmares over 10 years later). And then there are the unfinished books that you can return to later, see them in a new light and want to complete the experience (like a school friendship that doesn't continue due to moving away etc. until you meet again at the shops/hospital/child's school...). This is the kind of relationship I am having at the moment. I started a book many years ago and gave up because it just got a bit too hard to stay with it. I have in the meantime read many of the same author's historic novels and devoured them. I recently picked the book up again (Sarrum by Edward Rutherfurd) and LOVE it. This book will remain in my friendship circle. And if you haven't read an Edward Rutherfurd book, I encourage you to do so. Finally, there are the friendships that need to be restarted with a fresh outlook or in a new environment. This relates to a close family member who started a book and gave up as it seemed to be heading in a direction not to her liking. With a lack of anything else to read, I picked it up and got to the same point and questioned its viability as a "good read" but decided to continue on. Well, it turned out to be a very enjoyable read and a great experience, which has in fact started a new "friendship" with an author (the book was Tuscan Rose by Belinda Alexander). The family member has since read the book with a fresh approach and has enjoyed it and recommended it to other friends.
Books are like friends. Some will stay with you forever, some you will pass over quickly, some will cause you problems and some you will wish you just never met. Learn from your experiences and look forward in your journey. And if nothing else works, buy some new shoes (or ask your husband to do it for you).
Let me know if you have met one of those books that you wish you hadn't (keeping in mind one person's trash is another person's treasure).
PS. I write this blog in memory of Brian Cleary who was a "keeper" friend and brother to Nola. xxxx