In recent months, my to-be-read pile has reached staggering heights, and now threatens to topple and squish me like a boobie on mammogram day.
I truly want to read most of it, but the sheer volume of books in the pile is making me feel like I have to read. Seeing reading as a chore is an odd sensation for me, as I’ve been eagerly devouring five or six a week since age seven, and now find myself wanting to bitch-slap the next person who thrusts a book in front of me and insists, “you simply must read THIS!”
It’s forcing me not only to prioritize, but to consider which books I simply cannot read.
I think most readers have this – a subject or genre you just don’t want to deal with. One member of our book club struggles with books that contain rape scenes or child abuse, so Alice Sebold's THE LOVELY BONES and Khaled Hosseni's THE KITE RUNNER were not her favorite selections.
I like to think I’m a pretty open-minded reader. I used to despise time travel stories, but gave Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER a shot and now consider it one of my favorite novels (and no, not just because the sex scenes leave me fanning myself and contemplating whether addressing Pythagoras as “My Lord” might get me ravaged on a grassy hillside).
Vampires aren’t my thing, but I willingly picked up TWILIGHT and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. While I don’t deliberately seek out books featuring infected anal lesions and a narrator who enjoys eating scabs, I liked Charlotte Roche’s WETLANDS (note to readers: this isn’t the best lunchtime read).
But there is one thing I can’t read, no matter how hard I try: any book in which animals are hurt, maimed, killed, or sad turns me into an inconsolable mess of snot and tears.
It’s limited to animals, since I can cheerfully read any book in which humans are subjected to unfathomable misery.
I’ve tried several times to read Garth Stein’s critically acclaimed novel THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, which features a canine narrator. The first time I began bawling on page one, and finally quit on page six when the pages got too soggy to turn. A thoughtful friend offered to cover the saddest parts with post-it notes so I could skip them, but just knowing they were there made me hide the book under my bed and sniffle every time I caught sight of it.
Is there something you absolutely can’t read? Have you tried to get past it, or do you just accept this is who you are? Please share, I’m very curious.
And please know that if you hurt, maim, kill or sadden an animal, I will hunt you down and squish your skull in that mammogram machine.
Then I will write about it.