Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book Snob? Me?

Well, maybe I am a snob.  There are so many ways to be a snob, after all.  Then again, I always think of a snob as someone who judges people by their taste, which I don't think I do, even with books.  I mean, I don't mind when people don't like my favorite books, and I don't feel that embarrassed when I don't click with theirs.  And when someone tells me that Twilight is their absolute fave, I mostly feel a kinship, because they have an absolute favorite book that they want to talk to me about.  That makes them part of the family, and I can say with a straight face that vampires aren't really my thing; I'm more into zombies.

So by that definition, I really don't think I'm a snob.  But of course, I do judge the books themselves, and there are definitely books that aren't good enough for me.  I no longer feel a compulsion to finish the ones I don't care about, so I go through a lot more stops and starts than I used to. 

These days, a lot of those come from Netgalley. This is mostly because it's the only place I get books where there's no way to read even a sample before you get the book.  You get a cover and a blurb, and that's about it.  You do know the name of the publisher, which can be a clue—the self-published ones are not as good a bet.  (Wait, is that snobbish?  I don't think so—prejudiced, maybe, but the fact that something's been through the screening process that is professional publishing seems like an inevitable sign of some baseline quality, right?)

I picked one up recently that had a neat premise—a housemaid as a spy in the castle—but I'm finding I just can't go on with it.  The weird thing is, though, that it's not BAD.  I don't hate it.  It's just not quite good enough.  It's got characters, but they're stock characters, and there are way too many of them; it's got detail, but it's clichéd detail, straight out of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.  There's a plot, but I'm not sure where it's going.  

I can think of five authors who, if they had written this story, I would be reading it right now.  I kind of want to recommend the book to someone, because I feel bad for not liking it, but I don't.  It's like breaking up with someone after the third date, not because they're not nice, but because they're nothing more than nice.  I want to set it up with someone, but probably not my best friend or my sister.

Sorry, Tale of Maddy Biddle.  Not my cup of tea.

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