How I Classify Books
I read a lot of books. Fiction; pretty much any genre, and non-fiction; most anything that catches my interest. For a list of the books I’ve read this year, go Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen comes to mind, as does The Relic by Preston/Child, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke or Killing Floor by Lee Child, just to name a few such books.
PutDownable: This classification has three levels.
HardToPutDown: Similar in nature to UnPutDownable except when you get to the point where you say you’re going to put it down, you put it down. This is always the end of a chapter as opposed to a break within the chapter. Even with your eyes drooping and your bladder issuing threats or your stomach grumbling cause you haven’t eaten in hours, you’ll plow on to the next chapter.
SortaHardToPutDown: Similar to HardToPutDown except you can close it at a break within the chapter. If there is no break, you may, or may not, read through till chapter’s end.
EasyToPutDown: You can dog-ear the page (yes, I dog-ear pages) and set the book down at the end of any given sentence. Sometimes in the middle of the sentence. This does not necessarily mean the book is bad. Bad books end up in the final category.
NeedsFlyingLessons: This is a book that you really really wanted to read or one which was highly recommended to you and it turns out to be, in your humble opinion, crap. The story sucks or the writing sucks or the characters suck or all of the above sucks.
There is generally a feeling of great disappointment in encountering such a book which, in turn, leads to great anger. This anger can be lessened somewhat by tossing the book across the room. Throwing it out the window from a great height can return you to a state of peace and harmony with the world, especially if there is a garbage can located at ground zero. I can’t remember most of the titles of the books I have tossed though The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown comes to mind.
As tempting as it might be to give a book flying lessons, I wouldn’t recommend doing this with library books or those you’ve borrowed from a friend. A friend once loaned me Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, gushing on about how good it was. I absolutely hated it. It bored me to tears. This was a book I felt needed flying lessons in a bad way but the book wasn’t mine so I found a used one for fifty cents, bought it and flung it out the window when I got home. Ahhhhh, that sure felt good.
There can, on rare occasion, be a remedy for a book that you really wanted to read, or felt you should read, that ended up falling into the NeedsFlyingLessons category. Here it is: plan a road trip, the longer the better. Rent the audio version of the book. Make sure it is the only audio book you have with you when you start your trip. As a captive audience, you will be forced to either listen to the book or take your chances with white-line fever. Screaming at the author and/or pounding on the steering wheel helps with the anger and, in most instances, you can get through the book.
Sadly, even this doesn’t always work. Though I managed to make it through The Da Vinci Code this way, I was not able to get past disk 2 of Richard Clark’s The Scorpion’s Gate despite how badly I wanted to read it.
Stick to non-fiction, Richard, and take a cue from Casper Weinberger (Chain of Command); get a ghost writer to help you with your next novel.