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Books I Will Never Read

Everybody who knows me knows that I am a voracious reader. I enjoy spiritual, sociological, political or scientific non-fiction. My real passion, though, is fiction, especially literary or historical fiction. But there are some fiction genres that I have learned to avoid. What follows is completely personal. Some readers may absolutely love a genre that I detest, and to that I say: Enjoy! But here are some types of fiction that I absolutely will not read and some others that I read very seldom

Top of my Never-Never-Never List

At the top of my list is any book about magical creatures. Vampires, witches, werewolves, zombies, zombie werewolves. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. I’ll grant that it takes a lot of imagination to write these books, so nothing against authors who write them. I just don’t want to read them. When I read fiction, I’m interested in human dilemmas. As soon as the main character is super-human in any way, you’ve lost me. All too often, too, authors take ridiculous liberties and the story doesn’t even have an internal logic. Or the author seems to think that as long as their book has a magical creature in it, it’s ipso facto interesting, and the writing is boring.

Case in point: A Discovery of Witches. Everybody I know assured me that I would love A Discovery of Witches, even though I usually hate books about witches. I got 100 pages into A Discovery of Witches and only discovered that it is very boring to read about a character who borrows from the library a book that she realizes is enchanted and returns it to the library anyway! Then she has a very lengthily-described and boring dinner with a vampire or something. Boring, boring, boring.

Next on my No-thanks List

I went through a phase twenty years ago or so of loving to read books about Amish people or people who lived in quaint little towns where nothing really interesting ever happens. These books are nice escapes for someone who enjoys very light reading. But I got bored with them very quickly. The characters are usually not very deep, and the problems are too easily solved. I think these books were an escape for me when I was working a very demanding job while still raising children. They were little fantasy worlds where I could imagine myself living simply and peacefully.

For me, this genre also includes “cozy mysteries,” usually featuring a charmingly eccentric little old lady and lots of tea.

Also No Thanks

Romance novels. I guess I’m just too old.

No Thanks With Exceptions

I went through a Christian fiction phase, too, but this genre features the worst of both supernatural fiction and cozy fiction. The characters in Christian fiction often have a dark side that needs healing by Christ. But they are generally otherwise very shallow. And their problems are generally solved by getting right with God, which is a good thing in real life, but a form of magic in fiction. The point of fiction is for people to solve their own problems.

I will note some exceptions in this category, though. One of the best books I ever read was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I also recommend the Shiloh Legacy series (and its sequel Shiloh Autumn) by Bodie Thoene. These books feature well-developed characters of faith who work hard to solve the problems that face them. Redeeming Love is based on the Book of Hosea. And the Shiloh series contains some interesting social commentary.

Nope for a While: Science Fiction and Fantasy

I was a big science fiction fan in my teens and twenties. I remember devouring the Lord of the Rings and Dragonriders of Pern series, one right after the other. That was in the 1970s and I liked how women were allowed to be warriors in the Dragonriders series. One of the great things about science fiction is that it imagines worlds different from ours, yet the problems and their solutions are still human.

I got turned off on sci fi and fantasy because it started to seem to me that it was mostly about world-building and not so much about character and plot.

But, more recently, I’ve started to reconsider. I read the Scythe series a few years ago with my grandson, and recently I’ve read and enjoyed Cloud Cuckoo Land, Sea of Tranqulity and Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. So, I guess I just needed to find literary sci fi. If anyone has any recommendations of good literary sci fi or fantasy, I’m definitely open to that.

If anyone disagrees with my gripes, that’s fine; feel free to comment. And feel free to enjoy your favored genre without any criticism from me. I love all my fellow readers, even if I don’t love all books.