Ever since I was child, I have been very opinionated about what I like and do not like to read. Some of the books that classmates loved- like Where the Red Fern Grows or Little Women- made me want to tear my hair out with boredom. Other books that most of my peers loathed, like The Scarlet Letter, were my absolute favorites. Ever the efficient and productive student, I resolved not to waste precious time on books that I feel are poorly written or don't have anything of value or depth to convey. And for the most part, even throughout the course of earning a BA in English (and psychology), I've been able to weed out the crap and read only good or pretty good books. I developed an admittedly unfair system of judging books by their covers and by their personal and public endorsements. And over the years it has become harder and harder for a book to gain my initial approval, especially now that anyone can self-publish or e-publish anything, anytime. Well, I can admit that my screening process, while highly effective, is unfairly strict because I almost screened out- pretty adamantly- the astoundingly magnificent work that is the Wheel of Time series. Back in 2001, my screening parameters included
Sci-Fi and Fantasy: ABSOLUTE CRAP lacking depth of characters and interpersonal plots, created for guys to live out their Freudian prince/adventurer fantasies. Return: REJECT ALL BOOKS.
This was a rule set in stone. Someone convinced me to start this series. Admittedly, it was a boy unmistakably swept up in his own prince/adventurer "off to college" epic, but that's why I couldn't help but read this book he endorsed so highly. I had to set him straight. I envisioned smuggling a bb gun of realistic criticism with me and shooting holes in his romantic juvenile mythology as I read. Oh yes, in addition to snobby I can also be pretty mean. But 12 years and 13 books later, obviously the joke is on me! I get the last book of the series tomorrow on its release date. I hope to finish it before I'm 30 next month.
All of these years I've tried to allow these books to remind me that I should step outside of my literary comfort zone and occasionally pardon a screened out book. Even though the series- my reminder- is ending, I hope to continue that practice, and even let up on the screening process a little in the coming years.