Ah, it’s that time of year. All the award lists are coming out, and the talk is flowing about books that I … haven’t even heard of. Or, if I have heard of them, I made no effort to read them. The Women’s Prize, the National Book Award, the Booker the Pulitzer … those aren’t books I read. Because I don’t really read literary fiction. Ever.
But, like, I kind of want to?
When I have a good experience with literary fiction, it’s always an amazing experience. Y’all, there’s a reason people love these books so much that they give them awards. High quality literary fiction is so good. I used to read books like that, a long time ago, but lately … I don’t know. I just don’t like them as much.
I talked in a post a few weeks ago comparing literary fiction to genre fiction about how literary fiction tends to be so bleak a pessimistic. It’s not like I expect the book to be hilarious, or as swoony as a YA book. I just don’t want the overall theme of the book to be that life is depressing. So often the literary fiction I’ve read has such a dark outlook on the world. And that’s not how I see the world, nor is it how I want to see the world.
But I want to like literary fiction. The snobby side of me wants to read “smart” books that make me seem so literary and fancy. The lonely-reader side of me wants to be able to join in the discussion, like a book club. And the reader side of me wants to read a book I’m going to fall in love with. So, I guess I want to read more literary fiction.
But also, I don’t.
For all the reasons listed above and more. I don’t like the pessimism. I don’t like the genre snobbery. I don’t like that they are always freaking set in New York City. I don’t like that I want to read them just so I’ll look smart. When I don’t like them (which is usually) they’re boring. The characters are always complete jerks. Why are we glorifying alcohol and alcoholism? There are a million and a half reasons I’ve started avoiding this genre lately. I don’t like literary fiction.
But I want to.
*sigh* As you can see, it’s a never ending cycle.
So, let’s compromise. Tell me ONE piece of literary fiction from 2019 or 2020 that I absolutely HAVE to read. I’ll pick the one that I think I’ll like the best, and I promise, I will read it. Not today, not tomorrow, but as soon as I’m done with all the books I bought myself for Christmas. I’ll give this literary fiction thing another try. But I’m not promising to read more than one.