My bookshelf is getting shorter. That’s both good and bad. Good: I’m getting through the books I kept because I wanted to read them sooner rather than later (or never). Bad: I have fewer books to choose from when it’s time to pick a new book. Fewer books to choose from means more pressure to like the one I pick – wait, wait, no.
That’s ridiculous. I don’t have to like every book I read (and I don’t – I’ve been through that before). Just because I think I’ll like something doesn’t mean I have to. And yes, I worry that if I pick up a book (because I feel like I have to) when I’m in the wrong mood, the circumstances will cause me to not like something I might love later on. Is that a rational worry? Maybe. How can you tell if you would have liked something if only you’d read it at a different time in your life? If I didn’t like it the first time, I’m very unlikely to pick up and try it again some other time.
This particular worry is affecting at least one book still on the shelf. I’ve tried Kate Atkinson three times now. The first time (a few years ago), I read Case Histories. It was slow to start, but I really liked it once I got into it. Then I read Behind the Scenes at the Museum. It was okay. Not really my thing, but I liked it fine. Then I picked up Emotionally Weird and didn’t like it at all. The very beginning was promising, but then it bogged down and never picked up a plot, and I ended up putting it down without finishing it. The last Kate Atkinson book I have on my shelf is Started Early, Took My Dog. I don’t know anything about it. Should I try it? The one people keep saying I’ll like is Life After Life (I’ll have to get it on Kindle, which I’m not allowing myself to do until I finish the physical books on this shelf). If I’ll like Life After Life, shouldn’t I like her other books? That’s usually how it works for me. So I’m hesitant to pick up Started Early, Took My Dog.
Now that I’ve thought through all of that, though, I think the whole Kate Atkinson situation is different. It’s not the same as the pressure to choose one of THESE books. I have proven to myself (after three books) that I’m not sure I like her, so my reluctance to try again is well-founded and I don’t think it has ANYthing to do with the bookshelf pressure. Except…the second and third ones of hers I tried were on my shelf. I might not have read them at this point in my life except for the pressure to do it, and if I read them at some other point, might I have liked them?
I’m back where I started, and it’s still ridiculous because you know what? I could say the same about any book I’ve read and liked or not hated. This is dumb. I’m not going to worry about this ANY MORE. I have washed my hands of the whole affair. (Really, I just did the hand-wiping/washing motion. I’m committed.)