Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Anxiety - Does This Happen To You?

Posted by Simcha 6:23 PM, under | 15 comments

Have you ever been in the position of looking forward to reading a particular book only to find yourself avoiding that book when it finally becomes available?
No - don't you roll your eyes at me. This is a serious issue here.

After eagerly waiting for an entire year to read both Suzanne Collins's Mockingjay and Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings, now that I have the opportunity to do so, I'm not sure if I really want to.

I've been extremely careful not to read any reviews of Mockingjay or get involved in any discussions so that I won't accidentally come across any spoilers. But on Twitter the other day a particular book reviewer made a slight reference to Mockingjay's ending, and just like that- I was turned off of reading it. I now know too much about the ending and I'm afraid of investing myself emotionally in a book that won't end the way I would like it to. I still haven't read the last Harry Potter book because I heard that it jumps forward to when Harry Potter is grown up and I hate it when book characters grow up. I just couldn't start on the book knowing what I can expect to happen in the end (though there seems to be a ruie against dystopic books having happy endings so I can't say I really expect one). And that's exactly how I feel now with Mockingjay. I might just have to lay it to rest beside my unread copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Unlike Mockingjay, I don't yet own a copy of The Way of Kings but I was definitely planning on getting it. In fact, I was counting down the days until it would be released, until it suddenly hit me that this book is meant to be the first in a series of ten. TEN! That means that if I read The Way of Kings I will have to wait at least ten years (and most likely more) until I get a final resolution to the story. That's a decade of my life right there, waiting for a single story to be told. I don't think I can handle that kind of commitment. I mean- I'll be at least 40 years old by then! Half of my life gone, waiting for one series to be completed. Why, oh why couldn't Sanderson stick with stand-alone novels? He was doing so well with those.
So I'm tempted to hold off and wait eight years or so before ordering The Way of Kings (by which time I'm sure it will be on sale) so that I don't have to go through all this anxiety and risk turning into one of those crazy George R. R. Martin fans that everyone makes fun of.*

I hear Steven Erikson is almost done with his series. Perhaps I'll give those books another try instead.

* Though if Tor does end up sending me a review copy of The Way of Kings I will probably lose all self control and tear into the book immediately, despite my reservations.


I understand the desire not to get involved in a series you know will take a decade or more to finish. Anyone who started The Dark Tower or Wheel of Time--and of course Martin's series--will have at least some sympathy for/with you.

I have to say, though, that only 200 pages into The Way of Kings, I'm very much enjoying it.

With the number of friends I've made in the WoT fandom, and the hours of enjoyment it's brought me over the last fifteen years, I can't say I'm sad to have started it way back when.

Oddly enough, this has never happened to me (mostly, perhaps, because I am so vigilant about reading books before I hear anything about them), but I can understand that it is a real problem.
I think you should find a way to make yourself read all three.
You won't be sitting around waiting for the end of the story for an entire decade - sure, it won't get all read until then, but you will read so many other books between then and now and probably end up not even thinking about it much.

Never happened to me but I can understand the feeling in both cases. I would really consider putting a book aside if I knew the ending, it can be frustrating.

Ten or more books series can seem overwhelming but I think it's kind of interesting to follow the tales of characters you love for a long period of time. As Jessica wrote, sharing thoughts with other readers during those years can be a blast.

Book anxiety, I like it. I read the title and thought it was going to be something different entirely. I think you should read Harry Potter 7, although they do grow up at the end, its post resolution, it's just there to satisfy the fanboy/girl-ish types (me included). But I can understand not wanting to wait ten years for a story. Here's what you can do, read Steven Erikson's books and let me know how they are, heheh.

Oh yeah, I've had book anxiety. Sometimes a book just comes with so much expectation and hopes that I get anxious, doubting if it will ever live up to the hype. I wouldn't start a 10-book series either unless they're all published. The waiting would kill me!

Yes! I do this all the time!! it's like i don't want all the fun to be over or something.

Yeah , this happens to me too , I have a few books waiting to be read , that I have been looking forward to for a long time and yet I have a problem starting to read them.

Natassia, Carrie & Stephanie: I'm so glad you guys came along to back me up here. I was beginning to thing there was something seriously wrong with me ;)

Bryan: I'm not sure about the Harry Potter. I have fond memories of the serious and if I'm not happy with the last book it could ruin it all for me. Plus I hear that Ron ends up with Hermione, which I totally didn't see coming. I don't know...I'll have to give it some thought. As for Erikson, I already read the first book, and it only took me four tries. By the time I finish the series Sanderson's should be finished. I'll let you know how (or if) it goes.

Jessica: Perhaps when you finish Way of Kings you can let me know if it's the kind of book that resolves anything in the end or if it builds up to a climax that just leaves readers hanging. It's just that when go into a book I like to feel that everything will be worked out in the end and all the energy I've put into it will be worth it.

Phil: I admit that in my recent frustration over all the long book series in the fantasy genre I haven't thought too much about the positive side of a series, that of getting to spend additional time with characters I have come to love. But I do really wish that more fantasy authors would concentrate on producing stand-alone novels that provide complete a complete story in just one book.

Couldn't you just read the whole of the seventh HP book except for the epilogue? Then you wouldn't have to know.

I looooove starting books knowing what's going to happen in the end; and if I haven't heard about the end before I start the book, I flip ahead and read it early. Spoilers are my fave. :D Except this month. I'm off spoilers this month, because I'm trying to see why everyone else avoids them so.

Jenny: You really read the end first? I can't imagine enjoying a book when I know how it ends. Though unless you read the whole book the ending probably doesn't make much sense. But I guess you don't have any problems with reading spoilers then.

Okay, first of all... I hope it wasn't me on twitter that ruined Mockingjay for you. If so, I am sooooo sooooo sooo sorry. Please read it. I want you to read it to fill in the gaps for me. I was hoping you could explain why I felt the way I did in the end.

As for The Way of Kings, well, I am kind of feeling the same way. I even went and bought the book. I really want to read it. But I will have to wait a whole year for the next book. And that isn't even the end of the series. I will be reading it soon here though.

You're not alone.

I rarely get hyper-involved in a series.
In fact the only one I had to read as each new book came out was Harry Potter (and although I felt she eft somethings unresovled I loved the ending)
However I do get like this books I'm really looking forward to.Both The Time Traveler's Wife and The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker are examples of this. I was dying to read them and made a deal of effort to get hold of them but once they were in my hands I was too scared of dissappointment to actually read them. (I eventually saw sense and enjoyed them both immensely)

Melissa: Don't worry, it wasn't you at all. And it wasn't that big of a spoiler either but it just told me more than I wanted to know. I ended up reading Mockingjay after all. I just finished it and I'll stop by your blog now to read your review. Glad to see that you share my feelings about The Way of Kings. It's good to know I'm not insane or anything ;)

Esther: It's really just right after I finish a good book and feel a desperate need to read the next one immediately that the long wait for the sequel really bothers me. Now I'm having having the same issue with The Passage. I have it and am dying to read it but I keep putting it off. Go figure.

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