Reading as an Adult Sucks

List of things that will surprise nobody: I read a lot.
Not as much as I used to, of course – I have “adult responsibilities” and “career goals” (by which I mean I can never decide whether to spend my spare time reading, playing video games or watching anime, and doing all three at once is disappointingly unfeasible). But I still read a lot. And like a lot of people who read a lot, I’ve started to get picky.

On some levels it’s a time thing – if my time for reading is limited, I don’t want to spend it reading things I’m not going to enjoy. But on another level, it takes a lot more to impress me than it used to. Fewer and fewer plots feel new and fresh, fewer characters and archetypes feel unique, all that stuff.

This is pretty cool, when you think about it. I’m finally gaining the life experience I need to really be able to analyse a book not just on its merits, but on comparison to its entire genre/subgenre. That’s kind of insane; to have a large enough sample size to be able to make detailed comparisons. Plus, I’ve got a large enough sample size of various plotlines and archetypes to be able to compare between those to one another. I love that. It makes everything so much easier.

But there is one thing it does make a lot harder. I very, very rarely find, these days, a book I’d consider un-put-down-able. Something that really catches me and engages me and leaves the book’s world lingering after the last page. You know, all that reading magic that Pinterest and Facebook people get all starry-eyed and artsy-captioned-photo-y over.
I’ve come to find that I appreciate books in two ways – as emotional experiences and intellectual exercises. I’ll enjoy a book with one but not the other (of what else are Guilty Pleasures made but emotional experiences without intellectual engagement?), but an artsy-photo book is definitely one that delivers equally and excellently on both.

Which leads us to possibly the most frustrating experience of my reading life. Enjoying a novel intellectually, but having very little emotional engagement.
It’s awful. And it’s awful because I can see exactly how the author is doing a wonderful job of setting me up and crafting emotions … that I’m just not feeling. A plot twist happens, and the reaction is “Wow, what an amazing balance of foreshadowing they got!”
And I always end the book feeling like I need to read it again, to see how everything was done, and how the author made things work so well, but also vaguely disappointed.
Get a stint of such books, and you start to wonder … is it me? Have I reached a point where reading no longer captures and fires my imagination? I mean, I remember as a kid just getting caught up in all the books. But now I’ve grown out of them, and maybe adult fiction is just meant to engage in a different way … and that makes me sad, because childlike wonder is just plain fun.

Thankfully, thus far there’s always been a Wonderbook to prove that no, I’m not broken, just picky.
It’s nice to have the reminder that, no matter how jaded I get, some books will just be awesome.

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