Angry Beard Power, or Why I Need Book Recommendations

George RR Martin at the Comicon

Behold the Beard of Power. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve hit a slump.

Not with writing; that continues at the usual pace.* But I haven’t found a good book in what seems like ages.

Don’t get me wrong—I’ve found lots of okay books. Some of them I’ve even gotten halfway the way through before losing patience and interest. Others meet the fate described here. And a few I finish, but they leave me unsatisfied. It feels like eating a low-fat, low-calorie, no-sugar ‘dessert’ when what you really want, down in the depths of your grubby little soul, is cheesecake. Yeah, it’s sweet(ish) but it doesn’t satisfy the craving.

I’m not sure what’s going on, but I can pinpoint when it started. I began reading The Song of Ice and Fire series about eight months ago. Got all the way through A Game of Thrones and halfway through A Clash of Kings before the ennui set in. Not that they’re bad books; I can definitely see why so many people enjoy them so much. But I wasn’t feeling it.

And that’s when it started. I don’t know if George R. R. Martin is using his fearsome Beard of Power to reach out through the  internet and punish me for not finishing his epic series**, but I’ve hit the worst reading slump ever since putting that book down. It seems like I lose interest in every novel halfway through. Short story collections, too. Non-fiction still seems to be going well, but I need some fiction in my diet, man. I feel bereft without it.

So I’ve been hitting the bookstores, virtual and physical, looking for something. I’ve tried different genres: epic fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, mystery, science fiction, dystopian, literary. I even had a go at reading some sample chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey before bursting into uncontrollable laughter. I’ll admit to being a little stumped as to what to do next.

But I do know exactly what I need: I need a good book. A new one. Going back to an old favourite, no matter how much I love it, isn’t going to fix this. I need something new, something fresh, something I’ve never read before that hits me between the eyes like a squirrel on PCP that has learned to fly.

Tall order, maybe. But it’s been done before. Last time I hit a slump like this, Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind pulled me out. And somewhere out there is a book waiting for me to read it. I just have to find it.

So: what are you reading?

*Varying between rocket ship and sea ooze, with nothing in between.
**Of course, he hasn’t finished it, either. So there.

14 thoughts on “Angry Beard Power, or Why I Need Book Recommendations

  1. I’m half way through “a clash of Kings” lol. A client lent me “the mists of avalon” but I think I may read some “fluff” before that as its another long read. I know what you mean though. I’m reading “Clash of kings” so that chris and I can watch season 2 once he’s home. But, not much has been gripping my attention. I have a shelf full of unread books and none grab my attention. It seems we are in the same reading slump.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. I read Game of Thrones last fallwinter (it took me forever, bc it’s not my kind of fantasy) and I couldn’t find fault with it at all…and yet I will never pick up the others. It’s difficult to find a truly satisfying book that has it all. You’ve read Brabdon Sanderson’s Elantris, I assume? It was the last one that felt satisfying to me. Let us know when you find your next one. And now, I’m off to download The Name of the Wind.

  3. Steph, I haven’t read Mistborn but Elantris was the first fantasy I’d read (or tried to read) in a long time that offered something *different*–I really enjoyed it. Have you ever read The Sea and Summer by George Turner (a look at Goodreads tells me it also goes by the alternate title Drowning Towers)? Blew me away when I first read it years ago. I also think you’d like Peter Watts’ Rifters trilogy, if you haven’t read it.

    • I did read that one a few years ago. Got it as a gift from my brother, who has excellent taste in books. I enjoyed it (beautifully written), but found it a little too allegorical for anything but a one-time read. What did you think of it?

      • I’m in agreement with you – the elements of the story were too familiar for the plot alone to merit a reread. However, I thought the writing was so excellent that I might read it again someday because of it. Connolly was able to convey the protagonist’s gradually increasing maturity with a level of success not often encountered; by the time he reached the end of his journey, it was hard to recognize the frightened little boy who first found himself in another world.

        • It definitely captured the fairy tale meets epic feel: innocence as well as a maturation process. And the constant evolution as companions were added and then fell behind gave it a sense of the journey and change.

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