Monday, July 19, 2010

Almost Toppled, or Your Boring Best

Before my actual topic, 3 items of randomness...

1) Why does my dog lick his chops next to me after every damn meal? Is this his way of saying thanks? And why so insistent? Even if I go back to bed he'll do it in front of my closed bedroom door! And why is this something he picked up at 6 years of age?

2) I recently watched The World Unseen and it's worth a viewing. I was pretty dang impressed with the character arcs (though not always with the acting) and was pleased with the way the movie ended. Also, Lisa Ray is fantastically beautiful.

3) Why have I begun to hallucinate the little red light on my crackberry? Am I that desperate for new emails and texts?

So my actual bookishness for the day is good books that are boring. One would not think that a good book would be boring but I've read a few books that I thought were excellently crafted but boring. The reigning champ in sgwordy's world is Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. That brick of a book is very well crafted, the undertaking impressive, and the continuity mind-bogglingly maintained. But holy fuck it's boring! It's a long story** (and pretty dang funny actually) as to why I read this book but the only way I managed was to take it as the only book in my possession on an international trip. Why is it boring you might ask (or poss you've read it and so you already know)... well, there are many, many reasons but my main indicator of boredom is having this thought: If every character in this book died right now I would not care.

**haha, unintentional pun

Last month I thought we might have a new winner. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson is also an undertaking of epic proportions. Well-written, great world-building, multi-layered experience... boring! Again, had this one on a trip but it's possible I might have finished it anyway just to compare to JSandMN. The whole time I was thinking, does this trump JSandMN? Is this my boring best? In the end, though, I had to concede that it was less boring. There were a few characters that I was mildly interested in learning more about.

The thing about Your Boring Best is that if someone asks why you didn't like the book there's no answer other than boring. There's nothing to point to as a problem. Each element of an excellent book is in place but, in the end, one was never engaged as a reader. It's much like looking at a superior painting and feeling nothing. Is this better or worse than picking a book apart? On the one hand, I can't fault the writers in any clear way but on the other hand I had no connection to their artistry. Hmmm...

What's Your Boring Best?

(Or would you rather take me to task on my boring best?)


  1. For the life of me, I cannot understand how so many people find Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell boring. I was totally into it the whole time - BOTH TIMES that I read it. I find the first half delightful and charming, and the second half is an utterly riveting page-turner for me.

    It's obvious I'm in a tiny minority on that, though.

  2. Hey Beth, this is sort of funny as I know only one person who thought it was boring. Otherwise it is constantly recommended to me. Of course it all becomes very awkward when I have to say I have already read it and then all the questions arise as to why I didn't like it. Maybe we ought to trade people on this one?

  3. I have Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell on the TBR shelves. Maybe it's time to dust it off? Or not. It does a fine job of taking up space of the TBR shelves, why disturb it?

  4. jmc - heheh, I believe I have some books doing just that thing, too!