Several people do “first line of each month” memes at the end of the year, but the fact that I do book posts early in each month makes this less-than-scintillating blogging. (Especially since my book posts are not done chronologically, so I can’t use them to determine first book of the month.) But I went back through my archives just to see, for my own interest, what was what.
The moral of the story is that I need to stop being surprised by how many books I bounce off. I get books from the library on a pretty speculative basis–“someone but I forget who” is good enough for a recommendation when it comes to library books. “Maybe I’ll like this” is often enough followed by “okay, cool” to be worth my extensive library use, but it’s also very often followed by “orrrrr not, ew.” So: I will try to stop expressing surprise that the thing I expect to happen has happened quite so much. Really. Sorry.
But I really think this is a feature. I feel the same way about food: if you’re not trying stuff you don’t like, you’re not trying enough stuff. You’re missing stuff that would be on the borders of what you think you like but could turn out to be awesome. On Twitter last night, Jonathan Strahan asked if there was too much sff being published, if/since readers couldn’t keep up with it all. And that struck me as–how do I put this politely. Hmm. That struck me as filled with some quite wrong assumptions. It is not a problem if the world is filled with more wonderful things than I can ever behold or taste or read or learn or do. That is what we call a really good thing.
Also, we don’t all like the same stuff. If there’s just exactly as much sff as “a reader” can read in a year, there’s not nearly enough sff to keep me personally happy, because I will not like great swaths of it. I read faster than most people (which is not a statement of moral superiority but just a fact), and many of them like things I don’t like. Which: hurray for them! As we used to say in the dark and flannel-clad days of the nineties, rock on with your bad self! Eat my share of the pineapple while you’re at it!
And then if I miss sff that I would like that’s published right now, it will be there later for me to find later, when TexAnne or RushThatSpeaks or Papersky says, “You haven’t read Thingy? READ THINGY!!!”* And then I will! And there will be rejoicing over the reading of Thingy! Hooray! See? This is a good story with a happy ending.
I get that poor Mr. Strahan is probably feeling overwhelmed reading for Year’s Best purposes. I do. But a) that experience is not at all generalizable; b) there is no great advantage to everyone reading the same thing; and also c) nobody put a gun to his head and made him do this job as far as I’m aware. Oh, and also d) anyone who treats editors of any volume of Year’s Best as though they are idiots or jerks or whatever if they didn’t happen to get to Particular Story X is themselves being an idiot or a jerk or whatever. Don’t do that. Editors are humans. They will give it their best, but any “the best of” volume should be automatically prefaced in your mind with “SOME OF,” and on you go, not hassling the editors of same.
While I was writing this, XKCD popped up a post about reading every book. Heh. Lovely timing, internets.
*It might be someone else. But let’s be realistic here.