K: Kinds of Books You Won’t Read
Being me, I’m a bit uncomfortable with hard-and-fast rules or declarations. But there are types of books I tend to avoid – or, at least, that go to the bottom of the reading list rather than the top, which is its own kind of avoidance.
Expository Non-fiction (particularly military)
There’s a lot of varieties of non-fiction: biographies, essays, guidebooks, histories, criticism, philosophy, etc., etc. Some are more appealing to me than others, and some are organized, phrased, or otherwise well-written enough to compel one to read them.
But some are right out. I don’t want to read a self-help handbook, or The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Anything. Keep the True Story of Such-and-Such Rock Star’s Life away from me. Nor do I have any real interest in military history, which I freely admit to be a shame. It’s useful for understanding the world and how it got to be in its present shape; I just don’t really care to read about it.
Different things scare different people, which is why my mother couldn’t finish Ender’s Game (“Imagine your third child being taken to space by the government to fight aliens! I couldn’t get past that”), while I could never finish The Shining – due in part to Mum, who LOVES Stephen King, going “Oooh, have you gotten to the bit with the snow?” Look, lady, I live in Michigan and therefore DO NOT need a reason to be afraid of a precipitation that coats everything for 4 or 5 months every year. That’s worse paranoia-fuel than the time I watched Lady in the Water and spent a week wondering if there were skrunts hiding in any given bit of grass.
I suppose the anticipation of horror is usually worse than the horror itself. And so I can read about unicorn-blood-drinkers (and other horrors) in Harry Potter, a disembodied head and men clawing each other to death in That Hideous Strength, or tortures visited upon Winston Smith in 1984 without being too scared, or scarred either.
Rend your hearts and not your garments, people. Or something. Just…no.
No, no, cardboard people on a picturesque lake dealing with cancer/war/dementia/whatever external force isn’t heart-rending. Just stop it.
What books, if any, would you avoid?