The other day my friend Leanne gently questioned why I didn’t give A Suitable Boy more of a chance. She rightly pointed out that I wasn’t hooked on A Prayer For Owen Meany after 100 pages, either. I suppose I should have provided a better explanation.
I’d heard of John Irving for years though I’d never read one of his books. He came highly recommended and I was fairly certain that if I got to the end of the book (page 543) I’d have found something worth the time it took to read it. A Suitable Boy is 1474 pages. I could have read Owen Meany almost three times in the hours it would have taken to read A Suitable Boy. And A Suitable Boy didn’t grab me. How long would it have taken to get hooked? 200 pages? 800? 1200? I wasn’t willing to spend the time to find out. I don’t want to spend a significant number of hours on a book that I’m not sure I can love. (This would seem to indicate either that I am a discriminating reader or that I have a problem with commitment.)
Before starting the next list book, I read The Hunger Games. Several people (none of my usual sources) said this series is the best they’ve read since Harry Potter. This led me to believe I was in for a real treat. I was skeptical, of course, but willing to give it a go. And while I enjoyed the book, it is certainly not the best thing I’ve read since Harry Potter. Besides, there can be nothing like Harry Potter. Harry was a fine seven-course meal filled with all of the things I love and many things I didn’t even know I could love. The Hunger Games was a satisfying snack. The only thing they have in common is that they are in the same genre, and that is no coincidence. The popularity of Harry Potter caused the young adult fantasy genre to explode. But The Hunger Games was a nice little literary snack, like a handful of sweet grapes and a carton of apricot-mango yogurt. Just enough to satisfy but definitely not enough substance for a meal.
Of course, I eat grapes and apricot-mango yogurt frequently, so I'll definitely finish the series.