Why I Stopped Reading Books

Oscar ReadingA Victorian Gentlemen Concerned About Catching Crabs

So we must immediately apologise for the misleading and attention grabbing title. We believe it is called “clickbait” in the modern parlance, which sounds to us like something one uses for catching crabs. We refer not to a refusal to read books of any kind. No, rather, to the the reasons why we may abandon any given book. You see, we have on our “electronic reader” a collection of books named Stopped. This little collection is like a dark corner of our literary world where we place books that we feel we cannot continue with right now on the assumption we may one day return. Of course, once placed in that virtual pile, they fester away, never touched again, with their electronic bookmarks wagging like the fingers of a chiding aunt.

As we are currently in the middle of writing a novel (stop laughing at the back) we thought it might be useful to visit this little literary backwater in the hope it might deliver us some insight on why these particular books have suffered such an ignominious fate. The aim, of course, is to prevent our own novel suffering the same misfortune. We present here the aforementioned knowledge. We shall mention no books in particular and offer the immense caveat that these ideas and judgements are most certainly subjective. One’s man’s meat is another man’s murder.

This Charming Man

After reviewing the list of books, one common aspect immediately made itself known to us. Namely, we don’t care about the the characters. We don’t mean they are unlikeable, although that may be a factor. Or even that they are uninteresting, although that too may influence such a judgement. We mean simply this: we don’t care two hoots whether the characters achieve their ambitions and dreams or end up in Cheapside taking in laundry for a living. We’re sure the reasons for this are as myriad as they are arbitrary, but once settled on such an opinion, it is hard for us to shift it. And conversely, the book is easy to shift into the Stopped section. Lesson number one, then, is make the characters likely to be of interest to the people who you hope will read the book.

That Joke’s Not Funny Anymore

At the Benthic Times we’re rather fond of comedy. We tend to prefer deadpan and surreal to, say, a piece of slapstick, but we’re not above making jokes about pineal glands. Our reading too reflects that, we heartily enjoy tales that a have a comedic element to the fore. However, there can be too much of a good thing. And, we have found, that books that are all gags and no substance tend to lose our interest. We call this the “pearl theory” of comedy. It’s pleasant to have something smooth, shiny and translucent to look at, but if there isn’t at least a little bit of grit at it’s heart, it’s going to seem rather fake and cheap.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

On a similar note, we like genre fiction. A lot. And whilst we like nothing more than a book that merrily (and hopefully, humorously) subverts genre tropes, we’ll groan and yawn when confronted with one that seems determined to tick all the cliche boxes without an ounce of irony. Not every genre book should be constantly genre busting, of course, otherwise there would be no such thing as genre. And yet, some fresh angle or approach is very welcome.

Well, that concludes our little reel around the fountain and through the cemetery gates of our electronic reader. We hope it was entertaining and enlightening. Next week we shall looking at more crab catching with a post entitled “Why I Stopped Watching Television”.

Paul Michael

My Word!

Modesty permits us from crowing too loudly about this, but I can declare we were tickled pink to read this today. We shall just leave it here whilst we go and fetch the tea…

https://smithandskarry.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/morning-cuppa-jennings-and-jennings-paranormal-investigators/

 

 

 

The Benthic Bookshelf

19c Kindle19th Century Kindle

Dear Readers

A few new and interesting literary efforts have come to my attention of late. I thought I might share them with you, lest you have missed them, along with my own thoughts on the topic.

Last Days of New Paris

When one is writing a novel set in Paris (as you do), one naturally feels drawn to reading books on this most wondrous city. This book though… this is the Paris of the imagination. I’ve always enjoyed Mr Mieville’s ouevre-hopping efforts, but this is something special. Surrealist dream creatures fight Nazi nightmares while an American magician-scientist heads for the city. It mixes real and fictional events and people seamlessly and could almost be Magic Surrealism.

Borne

I have to confess to being only a handful of pages into Mr Vandermeer’s latest wonderbook, but already I am entranced, intrigued and a tiny bit scared. I devoured the Southern Reach Trilogy, enamoured with its spooky, dislocated feel and so was pleased as punch to see this book arrive on the virtual shelves. All being well, I shall sit on the terrace this very evening and read this with relish.

Jerusalem

From Skizz, and Halo Jones, through V for Vendetta and Watchmen, The Extraordinary Gentlemen and Unearthing, I feel like Mr Moore has always been part of my literary life. I believe, in the parlance of the young people, that Alan Moore does, indeed, know the score. So when he unleashed on the world a million-word behemoth I knew I should purchase it. I’m approaching this book in the same way a runner may approach a marathon. Little by little we shall get to the end. I am accordingly ten percent through (an amount of words that I would be perfectly pleased to call a novel) and relishing in the deep, rich stew of language that is being served.

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

As yet unread, this sits and stares at me and demands I attend to it soon. I have long been an avid reader of tomes on human consciousness and, as this blog attests, have an interested in cephalopods. This book then is almost too perfect. In fact, I would pay good money for the cover alone.

Well that is all I wished to share with you. Hopefully I may have brought you some new bibliographic delights. And whilst it shames me to do this, I would feel remiss if I didn’t remind you that our own literary effort is loose in the world. I hope you have a marvellous weekend with some excellent reading material.