Poll: Most Boring Books?

middlemarch

Looking for some boring books to read? Probably not. But just in case, read on.

Nancy Pearl, author of the Book Lust (my review) series and all-around librarian extraordinaire, was just awarded Library Journal’s “Librarian of The Year Award.” Well-deserved, and frankly, I have no idea how it has taken this long for it to happen.

She’s highly skilled at talking books, which should come as no surprise. But there is one thing I have heard Nancy say that sums up how I feel about “good” vs “bad” books that describes how I feel better than anything else I can think of:

“By good, I don’t mean any literary canon, but just books that you might enjoy. A good book is a book someone likes and a bad book is one they don’t like. When someone doesn’t like a book, it doesn’t mean they will never like it. They don’t like it for that moment…” (from the Library Journal article)

After I read that, I took a look at my bookshelves and tried to recreate the first time I read each one. Some had been good experiences, some had been bad. Some I reread later and loved, some I returned to and hated the second time around.

There was one word tied into all this: boring. The ones I would call “good” according to Pearl’s definition were not boring while I was reading them. The ones that were “bad,” at least at the time, bored me to death. I’m no longer in the habit of finishing boring books out of some sense of obligation, but I used to take pride in grinding it out.

One book I have tried and tried to read and just never made it through was Middlemarch by George Elliot. There are plenty of people out there to tell you that Middlemarch is either a classic or a boring brick. I’m not saying either group is right, only that I was too bored to get through the book each time I tried it.

I believe that says more about me than the book. Maybe the time will come when it will be a good book for me, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Your turn: what is the most boring book you have ever read? Is there such a thing as a boring book, or just boring readers? Do you believe that there are “best” books, or only best for each of us?

Josh