I've discovered something very important over the past decade—my opinion doesn't matter.
Let me rephrase, my opinion shouldn't matter. Yet, here I am, sharing my opinion on books. Let's just get this out in the open—I'm a terrible book reviewer. I can craft some pretty magical characters who speak words of wisdom and even the occasional profound phrase that may leave readers pondering the meaning for days. **Just kidding. I'm full of shit.
I digress ... but when it comes to reading other books, I'm terrible. Just rubbish, to use a Scarlet Stone term, at formulating a helpful opinion. <—Or crafting a complete sentence.
My taste is diverse and ever-changing. I love alpha males one day and hate them the next. I like dark but not too dark, funny but not stupid, angst until it hurts, unsolvable mysteries, and screwed-up characters.
I used to say my only requirement for a good story was impeccable writing. That's not the case anymore. There are amazing writers—award-winning wordsmiths who make every sentence sound gleefully poetic. They bring settings to life with magical technicolor. But ... the story gets overshadowed by paragraphs of adjective vomit.
Don't get me wrong, I will always hold a certain amount of envy toward these magical scriveners. But I get bored with description and oftentimes I feel like the setting drowns the plot or the story moves at a snail's pace because the characters' thoughts are delivered in long, unbroken paragraphs of internal monologue. After pages and pages of no white space, I long for a quote. PLEASE, let them speak!
To quote every editor's favorite line, "Show, don't tell."
Then we have the next category of writers—the one to which I belong. They (we) are the storytellers. Fuck the description, if you've seen one beach, you've seen them all. If you've never seen the beach, Google it and save us both paragraphs of pain. We are the dialogue junkies. Our stage comes with very few props, but we hope you focus on the meaning behind the words to the point that you don't care what color the character's shoes are, or the style of the chandelier in the foyer.
We count on your brain to fill in the blanks. Your beach might not be our beach, but if it's not important to the story, then who cares?
Finally, we have the elite writers who manage to strike a balance. They are concise with their words, painting magical pictures with one or two sentences and returning to witty dialogue before the reader gets bored. These are the unicorn writers. BUT—are you ready? My unicorn writer may not be your unicorn writer. You may need a three hundred word description of a beach, where all I need is one word—beach.
So basically, all of the above is nothing more than a disclaimer before I share some books that I have enjoyed for many reasons. This is not a complete list. It is a growing list. If you like recommendations, I encourage you to check back as I comb through my digital bookshelves and jog my old lady memory in search of the books that have made me smile or scream or simply kept me up past midnight searching for answers.
Peace to all,
**Disclaimer - 11th hour blog post without editing.