It’s happened to all of us. We’ve had our precious little bookworm hearts broken. Either a character dies when we didn’t see it coming (or maybe we did, but the delivery is still shocking), or there’s a plot twist we consider unforgivable. Maybe we learned something about the author as a person that kind of got under our skin, in a bad way. All sorts of sad things are, unfortunately, likely to happen in the life of a bookworm — and we read for the sheer enjoyment of reading, for the love of story and expecting wonderful things to occur when we turn those pages. So, gentle papayas, here are my recommendations for how to deal with the tragedy, er, ahem, the unlucky event of not liking a book.
You can choose not to finish a series. Let’s say there’s a startling plot twist or change in the narrative/theme that you didn’t predict, and feel it does nothing for the story, or even worse, makes the rest of the tale irrelevant. Don’t sweat it, precious pomegranate. It’s totally all right for you to change your mind (just as it’s actually acceptable for the author to change tactics midway). At first it can be nearly traumatizing to realize that your feels have been stomped on after you invested the time/money/energy into this series. But trust me, it is so much better in the long run to accept that it’s a fact, and move on to something else, letting bygones be bygones.
You may decide not to find out too much about your favorite authors. This can be a tricky thing. Some of us really like getting to know the people behind the names and dust jacket bios. However, what if you discover that these people are, away from their writing, ridiculous kumquats who feel the world should be redecorated with giant plastic flamingos? This could seriously impact how you then feel about a novel or series that previously made your heart somersault.
You are allowed to not read every single thing published by that author. I am the voice of experience and reason in this instance. I love Terry Pratchett. But some of his non-Discworld novels just didn’t do it for me. And certain characters in the Discworld series and I failed to connect. So, is it all right that I skip those offerings, while maintaining fluffy feels about all the rest? Yes, of course!
Whether you sell it, give it away, ship it back to the store, or “accidentally” leave it in the library dropbox, you do have the option to un-own the book. The great thing about everyone having different tastes is that the novel you wish never to open again will almost certainly bring joy to someone else. (Plus if you’re really feeling buyers’ remorse, completing the returns process will at least give your wallet a bit of a warm glow.)
You can resist peer pressure. If you just know there’s a 97% chance you won’t like the new release all your blogging contacts are raving about (for whatever reason), stick with your gut. I promise the Earth will not stop spinning if you do this.
Why not shake it up a little? Try a genre outside of your comfort zone; you might be pleasantly surprised. Don’t want to hear the money weeping as it leaves your bank account to pad the pockets of a publisher that just isn’t listening to your concerns? Go raid your local library. Or hunt around relatives’/friends’ attics/closets for titles released 5, 10, 20 years ago that you just aren’t familiar with. Again, the pleasant surprise thing is always a possibility.