I love to read. I once got the worst sunburn of my entire life trying to finish the last 100 pages in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. It had been an overcast, cool morning in July when I started reading and a blazingly hot, bright sunny afternoon when I finished. Six months afterward, I still had the lines on my shoulders from that sunburn (immortalized forever in my wedding photos) and almost 15 years later, there is a permanent scar. That is how badly I burned. Yet I never once noticed the sound of my flesh sizzling because I was so engrossed in the story.
This week, I tried to read a collection of short stories by Charles Bukowski and I felt like every page took a million years to read. I felt like once I had read the first story, the rest were all too similar. I also felt like this target audience for this book was so clearly not me it might as well have had an circle with a line through a pair of pants on the back cover. I tried. I really did. I adore the guy who assigned me this book. He was always cool without trying to be and has over time recommended some really interesting things in terms of TV, movies, books, and music. But I just couldn’t with Bukowski. It was all just too raw and risqué and down and dirty for me.
For the record, that is two solid strikeouts in a row in terms of the list. I'm fairly ashamed of myself, but I learned a very long time ago that there are too many good books in the world to suffer through bad one. That doesn't mean these were bad books - obviously at least one person loved them enough to recommend them to me, but art truly is in the eye of the beholder and in both cases, I was not beholden.