Standards

There are certain standards to which I hold my reading material that are flexible - that develop as I read more, so that things that at first seemed distasteful become more acceptable to me.

There are other standards that are not so changeable, and sometimes this makes me feel as though I'm too harsh a judge on the books that I might otherwise enjoy.

This was brought home to me recently when I tried to read Guillermo Del Toro's The Shape of Water. I had heard good things about the book and I wanted to give it a try, but I didn't actually know much of anything about the book, its plot, or even what it was about in a general sense.


The answer I came to (within the first few chapters) was that this book was definitely not for me. It contained all sorts of things that made me deeply uncomfortable, most of which fall into the category of vivid descriptions of unpleasant things (violence, illness, madness, powerlessness, rape, death, etc). The key word there is "vivid." The descriptions aren't really explicit, so much as they're emotionally powerful, which can have just as much of an impact on a reader, or more.


So while I thought the prose of the story was absolutely gorgeous, and very much wanted to know what happened next, I had no desire to be exposed to those story elements that so repulsed me. This might be an indication that I am not emotionally ready for the intimate exploration of such things, or it might mean that that specific form of exploration wasn't what I needed, or it might simply be that descriptions of that nature are just not something I want in my life.


I don't know at this point what the barrier is to me enjoying this book, only that I am not in a place in my life where I can do so.


And that brought me to the question: at what point do my "standards" for a book (such as my desire to avoid profanity) interfere with my experience as a reader more than they help it?


I suppose in order to properly answer the question, we must first take a close look at the standards in question. And that, I think, is something that I will need to cover next week, because... I've never written down my standards before, and I'm finding myself at a loss for where to start!


That might very well be part of the problem right there.


What about you, Inklings? What standards do you have for the books you read, if you have any at all? And if you have none, tell me why!


Until next time, stay awesome. You're more amazing than you know. ;)

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