Books Read- 203 Books to Read-282 Percent Complete- 41.86%

Just Finished (For the third time) - 'Mirror Dance' by Lois McMaster Bujold

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Having finished 'Dhalgren' I dove right in to something a little lighter, I've already finished 'The Borders of Infinity' by Lois McMaster Bujold.  It's a collection of three short stories set in the Vorkosigan universe that I've been saving for a little while now, just finishing 'Dhalgren' seemed like the right time.  Borders didn't win any awards for best novel, though one of the short stories in the book, 'The Mountains of Mourning,' won both the Hugo and Nebula for best novella.  Maybe I'll try to read all those once I've finished off all the novel nominees, also maybe I shouldn't set goals for ten years down the road.

Now I've moved on, I'm reading 'Jack of Shadows' by Roger Zelazny.  It's a different book, really in keeping with Zelazny's style.  He's got a real seventies thing going, but he does write great books.

I was thinking a little about 'Dhalgren' after I finished it.  Even though I really enjoyed the novel and think it's both important and groundbreaking I'd be hard pressed to say it's actually entertaining.  Several reviewers had things to say about the book being for smart people only, and that 'dumb' people wouldn't like the novel.  Most reviewers will go out of their way to say that the book definitely isn't for everyone.  I'd agree with that assessment, but I think it's more about being in the right mindset when you pick up the novel.  I'm sure there are people that pick up Faulkner or Plato for a little light Sunday reading, but if you're anything like me you really need to prep yourself before you tackle a book like that.  I'd put 'Dhalgren' in the same category as those two.

Another thing to think about before you crack this book open is: What are you actually looking to get when you read a book?  Some people are just looking for a little relaxing entertainment, and that's fine.  But, if that's the case then you should probably avoid this book.  'Dhalgren.' 'Moby Dick,' 'Magister Ludi,' 'Robinson Crusoe,' these are all books that I'm very glad I've read but did very little to entertain me, and all of them bored me close to tears at some point.  But, they're all important works that inspire thought and introspection.  For me sometimes that takes the place of entertainment on whether or not I want to read a book, I just need to be ready when I set out to do it.  Stumbling into 'Dhalgren' like I did was probably not the best way to get introduced to the book.

There are some difficult books to read out there and I think the manner in which you approach them is just as important as what you're looking for in a book.  I think being forced to read 'Catcher in the Rye' when I was a kid influenced my enjoyment of the book, and I know being forced to read 'The Great Gatsby' ruined the novel for me.  It's important to approach whatever book you're reading organically, and actually wanting to read a book is probably the first place to start.  I don't think it's as cut and dry as 'smart' people like these books and 'dumb' people like those books.  No one reads just one type of book all the time, even I take a break from SF from time to time.  Goal be damned I need a break every now and then. 

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