When I find myself reading a well-written book with impatience or lack of attention, I know it's often because I've read too many similar books recently -- similar settings or similar tropes and sometimes it's just that I've had enough of a particular genre for a time.
That's when I put that book aside and switch genres for a while, refreshing myself by diving into something completely different.
Sometimes I've read a review of a book where, instead of criticizing the writing, the characters, or the way the plot unfolds, the reviewer criticizes the writer for using a particular trope, saying things like they're bored with regencies, or werewolves, or secret baby plots. That to me also says "jaded reader."
It can happen to us all. Recently I've been reading thrillers by male writers and English women's fiction, simply because I found myself starting, but not getting into, some romances by authors I normally love. The problem was not with the books, but with me. I needed to get away from romance for a while and plunge into something different. Refreshing my reading palate.
The choice of male thriller writers came to me because when I complained to a writer friend that I was feeling a bit bored with my reading lately, she said, "read some men—they write differently from women." I do, of course, read a lot of male writers—Bernard Cornwell and Terry Pratchett spring to mind— but she suggested some contemporary thriller writers to me, and I now find myself happily working through Lee Child's 'Jack Reacher' series.
Another friend—another romance writer—said she liked to read books from other cultures, that the rich and different cultural settings had the effect of refreshing her reading—and writing—palate. She cited books like The Kite Runner, The God of Small Things, Sacred Games and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Other friends said they liked to read books from other eras — one liked books from the 1950's —a wide range of books from the same decade, from Asimov's science fiction novels to Kurt Vonnegut's social satires. Another regularly refreshed her reading palate with a P.G. Wodehouse comedy. A third loved detective novels from the so-called "golden age" of crime fiction (which I think is the 1920's to 40's)—Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and others.
I mentioned this to yet another friend (I am blessed in my friends) who told me her husband had recently been reading Raymond Chandler with huge enjoyment and kept wanting to share snippets. She shared a few that had stuck with her—and these are in her own words, so are not exact quotes:
— A female character who wore a hat that had been taken from its mother too young.
—Then there’s the big time boss who kept the hero detective squirming in his chair waiting, while he inspected a box of Cuban cigars for birthmarks.
—They looked shocked as if I’d just risen from the bottom of the ocean with a dead mermaid under my arm.
—She handed over the twenty dollars reluctantly, like she was giving me her favorite kitten to be drowned.
—The blonde squeezed passed me in the hallway and she smelled like the Taj Mahal looks in the moonlight.
So naturally now I'm going to have to dig out some Raymond Chandler novels. And it might be time I did a reread of some of my old favorite detective novels as well. I used to love Ngaio Marsh but haven't read her for decades.
And now I'm not feeling so jaded any more.
Do you ever become jaded in your reading habits? And if so, what do you do about it? And if you were suggesting something different for a jaded reader to read, what would you recommend? What are you reading at the moment? Any of the above listed authors or books take your fancy?