That elusive good read

So it looks like yesterday’s post struck a chord! I can’t tell you how happy it made me 1) to realize I wasn’t alone and 2) to see some of my old school bloggy friends posting a comment and liking my link on Facebook. How fun is that? And no quiz necessary! Ha!

One of my cohorts in this week’s retro blogging adventure described our efforts best: [We’re] blogging all fun stuff this week as a throw-back to the old days of blogging when a little frivolity was a fine thing. A little frivolity a fine thing, indeed it is. So in the interest of a little frivolity and the good ol’ days of blogging, I offer a post on reading and the quest for good fiction, though I would argue good fiction is more than mere frivolity. But I digress…

I read a book Saturday, as in I started and finished it all on the same calendar date. This was once a usual practice of mine, back when I was a teenager and my books shorter and my attention span longer. I also had no other responsibilities, shall we say, diverting my reading time.

But this Saturday I had the day to myself, all day, all to myself, all alone. Though the aforementioned responsibilities beckoned, I decided–with great eagerness–to spend the day lost in the pages of a book.

I went to the library late Friday afternoon and checked out a title I didn’t know much about by an author I didn’t know much about. Well, that’s not entirely true. In the interest of full disclosure, I did read a couple of reviews, as I generally always do, mainly because I wanted this book, this day, to be a memorable escape, emphasis on escape. Memorable would be nice but not necessary. The few reviews I consulted made this book seem promising.

So I read. I did other things too. I washed and folded clothes. I watched football. I read a little more. I colored my hair. I drank coffee, lots of coffee. I missed my guys. And I read and read some more.

At the end of the day I turned the last page and closed the book, profoundly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it was well written and I was fully engaged in the plot and the characters. Not only that but it was a compelling enough story to keep me interested until the very end (so many novels don’t, you know). And, after finishing it, I kept thinking about the story and the characters, generally a mark of the best sorts of books in my opinion.

But, if truth be told, I just didn’t like it.

Though I’ve no doubt I’m overthinking (and, hello, not for the first time), this makes me wonder about my standards for that elusive good read. And about where all the good reads have gone. I desperately want to read a story that delights and charms, a novel like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society or Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. Something more “lit” than chick lit but something less than the dark and brooding ambiance that marks much of today’s popular literature. Dystopian, mystery, suspense, all have their place and all are genres I enjoy. But today, now, I want something pleasant, something light, but not too light, something that captivates and engages and makes me happy.

When I find it, I’ll let you know. Until then you can probably find me with my nose buried in Pride and Prejudice, the very best among the best of charming and delightful reads. Dear Jane, she never disappoints.

So. Can you fellow bibliophiles help a girl out? Do you have a fiction title you recommend? What’s your favorite non-brooding titles? Have you ever read a book that was good but disappointed? Tell me more!

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Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

14 thoughts on “That elusive good read”

  1. That feeling of disappointment with modern novels is very familiar. I’ll give your excellent question some thought. Some books that spring to mind along those lines are “The uncommon reader” by Alan Bennett, “The no. 1 ladies’ detective agency” series by Alexander McCall Smith, “Wonder” by RJ Palacio, and (if you think you’d like a haunting retelling of a classic fairy tale) “The snow child” by Eowyn Ivey.

  2. Melissa lent me “The Guernsey Literary Society…” and I love it! I also wish there were more books like that and less depressing, angst-y ones.

    Here are a few authors I like:

    Miss Read – the Fairacre and Thrush Green series. I prefer Fairacre over Thrush Green.
    Cozy-ish mysteries – Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Carola Dunn, Alexander McCall Smith, and Susan Wittig Albert’s Beatrix Potter mysteries.

  3. Although I hardly ever go down this road in my reading… over 10 years or so, a friend from church insisted that I read this trilogy of Francine Rivers. Well I did, and after reading them, I went out and bought them for myself. They are SO good!!! As good, even maybe better, (if possible) than pride and prejudice! Because of the biblical aspects in them.

    You will love them I am sure. The first one I read in 2 days, 500 pages. Did nothing but read…late hours into the night. Just couldn’t put the book down. The only thing I tell everyone is you just have to hang in through the first 100 or so pages. I don’t know why but before that it just seems to be hard to get into the story line. But after, you can’t put the book down. The other two just ease in like you left off no problem.

    So here are the names of the books:
    1- A Voice in the Wind
    2- An Echo in the Darkness
    3- As Sure as the Dawn

    You will enjoy these I can assure you! x

  4. More books sprang to mind after Ann’s comment … My favourite Francine Rivers’ books are “Redeeming love” and “A lineage of grace”. (I enjoyed the ones Ann mentioned too.)

    Also, have you read Marilynne Robinson’s “Gilead” and the follow up, “Home”? They are superbly written (the first is told from the perspective of a minister writing to his son; the second is the same story from a different perspective). Read them on a Saturday and you’ll end up feeling satisfied!

    I’ll tell you if I think of any more …

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