post appeared on Book Riot a couple weeks ago, and drummed up quite the discussion (41 comments!). So I wanted to repost it here, in case you missed it — to get New Dork Review reader opinions as well. What say you?
The No. 1 reason why people won’t read The Song of Ice and Fire
series is not because they’re not interested in fantasy novels (which
you might expect would be the case). And it’s not because the books are
too long, or violent, or offensive to their delicate sensibilities
regarding sex. Nope. The No. 1 reason is that folks don’t want to be
left hanging, waiting until 2020 (or whenever) for the notoriously slow
George R. R. Martin to finish his series. Readers are friggin’ impatient
— and rightly so!
We hate waiting for books, almost than we hate waiting for anything
else in the world. And I’m with you — for my entire reading life, I’ve
had the same policy: Must wait until finished in order to begin.
But you know what I’ve realized? That that is silly. And you know
why? Because at its most fundamental level, it’s just an excuse, a
rationalization. And if you really think about it, it’s not a good one.
Let’s take Martin as an example again — even when all seven of those
novels are out, if you’ve been waiting until they’re finished, are you
really going to sit down and read 7,000 pages of dragons and sword
fights back-to-back-to-back? Probably not. Even for shorter series, and
even if it’s comforting knowing all are parts are in the world, do you
ever really read all parts back-to-back? I sure don’t.
Furthermore, when’s the last time you heard someone say, “You know
what, I’m not going to see (insert title of enormous summer blockbuster
movie) until all movies in that series are out.” That sounds pretty
illogical, right? Why are books different? Because you spend more time
with a book? Why should that matter?
And I don’t buy the argument that if you read one in the series now,
you won’t remember the characters or what happened in the last book, and
it’ll ruin the next book. Easy solution: There’s this magical new
invention called the Internet. You can find a summary of the last book
there. Or better yet, start your own reading journal so you’ll have your
own thoughts on what happened in the last book and the specific themes,
character interactions, etc., that resonated with you, personally. My
own reading journal is up to 500-single-spaced typed pages now. It may
seem a tad OCD, but I can tell you my specific impressions of every book
I’ve read since May 2001.
Due to my what-I-now-realize-is-kind-of-silly policy, I own more
unread books that are part of unfinished series than you can shake
George R.R. Martin’s beard comb at — from Diana Gabaldon to Jeff Shaara
to Ken Follett to W.E.B. Griffin. I always stored ‘em up, telling myself
I’d read them on that glorious near-future day when the series is
finished. I hate waiting for book as much as the next person, but my recent experience of reading A Game of Thrones (as well as, believe it or not, The Hunger Games) has made me realize how much I’m missing out on really good books like, say, Fall of Giants with this illogical personal reading policy. And that’s what’s really got me re-thinking it.
So you know what? It’s officially off the books! It’s a momentous day! And I feel like a weight has been lifted. How liberating!
And, now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the library to find a copy of The Passage. Cheers!