“We agree to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and again.”
I recently read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, which is just full of great quotes about reading, but this was the one that really jumped out at me.
Reading really is a cost-benefit kind of pastime. Because I think no matter how well you get to know your own tastes over time, there will always be surprises. Some good, some bad.
Take beer, for example. My go-to is Bud Light. I know I can drink it for a while without getting too drunk or too poor. I know just about any bar or restaurant will have it on tap. I know that for some people it just barely qualifies as beer, but I like it.
I’m friends with a lot of beer snobs, and thanks to them, I’ve tried lots of different kinds of craft beers and homebrews. Some I like. Some I don’t. And while I tend to prefer lighter beers over darker beers, even that’s not a hard and fast rule. The fact is, you can use all your fancy descriptive terms to tell me what this beer is, but I just have no idea what I’ll think of it until I actually take a sip. It’s not that I’m not open to trying; in fact, I’ll sample just about anything anyone’s willing to give me. The chances of it being a new favorite is pretty slim, but that doesn’t stop me from needing to satisfy my curiosity.
I think you can see where I’m going with this…
My thrillers are like my Bud Light. They may not be the greatest books out there, but I know they’re likely to entertain me. They’re what I turn to after a string of disappointments, or when I just need to turn my brain off for a while. Yes, some of them are amazing (which is where my Bud Light analogy sort of falls apart; I don’t know that even I’d ever call it amazing), but I know a lot of them won’t be, and that’s okay.
But I still like to read around and try different things. Books of different genres are catching my interest all the time. I might have a rough idea of which books I’ll like and which ones I won’t, but there’ve been a lot of disappointments and a lot of pleasant surprises along the way. And no matter how many books I read and how well I get to know my own tastes, that’s always going to be the case.
As of today, I’ve read and rated 496 books. My average rating is 3.18, which on my scale pretty much means “good but not great.” Good is… well, good. I know other people, authors and readers alike, have a different opinion of a 3-star rating, but the fact that nearly half of my ratings are 3 stars is just fine with me… as is the fact that nearly a hundred have been 1- or 2-star disappointments.
The important thing is that the 5-star books outnumber the 1-stars, and the 4-stars outnumber the 2-stars.
As long as that continues to be true, I’m happy to take the disappointments as they come, as I continue to search for exhilaration.
How do you feel about opening yourself up to disappointment? Does the exhilaration make it worth it?