We had a rare opportunity to go to the bookstore the other day without our children. The kids, darling creatures, aren’t exactly the most restful companions at the bookstore.

“Mom, can we go to the children’s section?”

“Mom, will you buy me an e-reader and/or a $100 set of Legos?”

“Mom, am I old enough to drink that kind of coffee with the whipped cream on the top?”

“Mom, how much allowance do you owe me, and do I have enough to buy this book?” (The answer is always, always no.)

“Mom, why doesn’t that lady on the cover of the calendar have enough clothes on?”

Of course I love these short people and would gladly give them an organ from my own body, but I relished the opportunity to wander slowly through the aisles and actually focus on the books while they were in a different place. For consecutive minutes I could focus on the books. Cheap books, decorating books, mystery books– I examined them all.

(In a vaguely related note, one of my favorite cookbook authors has gotten a divorce since her last book. I noticed her new cover shows her left hand with no wedding band, which got me worried, and then I launched a full-scale investigation into the acknowledgements in the back of both books to see if I was correct, and I was. In the first book she thanks her loving husband, and in the new book she casually mentions some new dude. I’ve been worried about her for days and I never would have even noticed if my kids would have been two inches behind me, talking my ear off. But I digress…)

I also had a chance to closely examine many artsy, literary books. I usually skip these when the kids are with me because I have to use my minutes wisely before they run out of patience.

It turns out I still don’t like deep, literary fiction. Even without the kids in tow.

I know I should, as a writer, deeply appreciate another’s ability to write prose that inspires and translates strong emotions through the mystery of the written word, deepening my understanding of the world and the people who fill it.

But I don’t.

don't like it

I just don’t like it, and that’s the end of it. I don’t enjoy being dragged through three hundred pages of torture, misery, and angst. I don’t like feeling like my emotions are being manipulated by someone who woke up cranky in 1954 and decided to make everyone else cranky, too.

I’m not saying that other people shouldn’t enjoy it– by all means. If the full range of human emotion is how you like to spend your three hundred fictional pages, then go for it. I just like to spend mine happy and relaxed, is all I’m saying.

Sometimes I feel guilty, like if I’m going to really contribute to the world I should use my talents to write deep and slightly disturbed novels. Something with some grit, where we all come out a little scarred. I’d feel more like a genuine writer if I had some dark secrets to tint my pages.

I’m never going to be that kind of a writer, though. It’s not where my interests lie, nor my talents. I specialize in ridiculousness, and I’m going to be okay with that. Isaiah 64:8 (NLT) says this:

And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.

Do I believe this? Do you believe this? What if we were formed by a loving God to serve him with specific gifts, in a specific time? I think we don’t have to despise ourselves for our lack of organization or math skills or literary interest. I think we should relax and grow into the exact reason we were formed, whatever that may be. I give us all permission. 

What about you? Do you ever feel like you should enjoy something and then feel terribly guilty when you don’t? What do you enjoy, instead?



16 Comments on Because I Don’t Like It, That’s Why

  1. joshmosey
    April 9, 2015 at 4:33 pm (3 years ago)

    I feel like you are covering for something deeply sinister by saying that you don’t enjoy things like that. You probably write fantastic literary fiction under a pen name. Hmm.

    As for things I feel like I should enjoy, I feel like so much less of a person when the topic of sports comes up. “Who do you have in your brackets?” “Why aren’t you wearing a jersey for opening day?” What are these sports and why should I follow them? I’m a husband, a father, and a reader/writer of books. I don’t have time to memorize statistics or watch sporting events on television.

    Also we don’t own a television, so there’s that too.

  2. Jessie Clemence
    April 9, 2015 at 5:40 pm (3 years ago)

    I rarely feel insecure about sports, until someone tries to get me to play volleyball. And then I get really anxious. Blech!

  3. memyselfandkids.com
    April 9, 2015 at 5:58 pm (3 years ago)

    Glad you were able to enjoy your trip to the bookstore.
    Different Strokes for different folks. Enjoy what you enjoy – good for you.

  4. Rachel
    April 9, 2015 at 6:14 pm (3 years ago)

    I completely relate! I have a friend who loves to read theology and philosophy books and I always feel like some kind of airhead when she asks what I’m reading lately. Truthfully, I really like the Christian fantasy genre lately, and often read novels geared toward young adults (cleaner and more likely to not have a depressing ending.) I only get time to read at the very end of the day, and in my few moments of “me time” I prefer to take a mental vacation!

  5. Jessie Clemence
    April 9, 2015 at 9:17 pm (3 years ago)

    Yay! We’ll be airheadish together.

  6. Susie Finkbeiner
    April 9, 2015 at 9:32 pm (3 years ago)

    I am all about people having unique taste in literature. That’s what makes our job so fun.

    Here, I’ll tell you a story about when I felt out of place because of my taste. I was at a HUGE conference (not Breathe) a few years ago. I ended up eating with a group of ladies I didn’t know. They were all romance writers. Like, full on kissy face, smoochy lips romance. They were bashing those of us who write non-romance, non-genre, Christian fiction. I mean BASHING. That no one liked our books and no one wanted to buy them. That they were depressing and worthless. Problem was, they didn’t know what I write. Ahem. I shoved my beef tips in my mouth and ran away so I wouldn’t say something my mom would be ashamed of.

    Differing tastes is one thing. Bashing someone’s work/genre is another. It’s just mean.

    I’m glad we can have different flavors of books and that we can still be friends. 🙂

  7. Jessie Clemence
    April 9, 2015 at 10:17 pm (3 years ago)

    Way to control yourself at the Cranky Girls table, Susie! I’m proud of you, and I’m not sure what I would have done. I certainly see the value in the deeper books, I just can’t relax enough to get through them! People keep telling me to read Unbroken but I get too upset at reading the back cover. But I know the deep stuff helps an entire group of people make sense of the world, so that’s awesome. You’re part of the awesome!

  8. Jessie Clemence
    April 9, 2015 at 10:17 pm (3 years ago)

    What do you like to read for fun, Larry?

  9. Amelia
    April 9, 2015 at 11:03 pm (3 years ago)

    I have brackets on my walls. They hold up shelves. Sports. Meh. I’m with ya.

  10. Amelia
    April 9, 2015 at 11:06 pm (3 years ago)

    There are certain activities that female relatives of mine love. I tried for years to love these things as much as they do (certain crafty things and types of household jobs). I do not love them. At all. I avoid them when I can, and the crafty things I had collected, I donated to good causes. It was so freeing!

  11. Ashley
    April 10, 2015 at 12:53 am (3 years ago)

    I want to say I BARELY read anything at all, but I must agree reading those heavy books takes extra work for slow-pokes like me. I feel this is not unlike film buffs getting excited about super old movies that have a slow moving storyline. I want to like those because people say I should but, nope. Also, it’s the same for art. I made a lot of deeply emotional work in college, and I know that other artists are that way, however there is also “happy art”. Just because I worked better and worked through life issues through my pieces didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy a print about “the floor is lava” game. Ha! It takes all kinds to make this world go round.

  12. Joy
    April 10, 2015 at 5:43 am (3 years ago)

    Oh I love DEEP books, read nothing else, can’t abide anything fiction..apart from anything by Tolkien, but don’t class them as light weight.

  13. Jessie Clemence
    April 10, 2015 at 8:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Good for you! I feel better about walking past all those books the authors worked so hard on! At least there are people who love them.

  14. Jessie Clemence
    April 10, 2015 at 8:09 pm (3 years ago)

    That’s true. Maybe we go to happy art on Friday nights and sad art on Mondays. Variety!

  15. Jessie Clemence
    April 10, 2015 at 8:10 pm (3 years ago)

    I’ve had to give up a lot of hobbies so I have enough time to write, and I’m surprised at how little I miss them! I agree with you– it’s been a very freeing experience. And I’m saving a lot of money, too.

  16. memyselfandkids.com
    April 12, 2015 at 12:44 pm (3 years ago)

    Varies. I go through phases of fiction and non-fiction. The current book I’m reading is about the 6 day war.