I’ve recently come to realize something about myself: At least some of the time, I am a belligerent reader.
What I mean is this: when someone talks a book up to me, and then gives it to me to read (or I find it on my own on account of their recommendation), I tend to read it like this:
“Oh yeah? Prove it!”
If I just pick up a book on my own and read it, I’ll probably enjoy it. I have very broad tastes, and I enjoy most of the books that I read — the vast bulk of them, in fact. But if somebody tells me that a book is amazingly good, or changed their life, or is luminously brilliant, the odds are good that I won’t like it. I may, in fact, actively dislike it (which is different from just not liking something — this is where it gets personal).
It’s very contrary of me and I don’t know why I do it.
Now I’m worried that I’m missing out on books which actually are amazing.
How do you react to books you’ve heard great things about? Do you read them and expect greatness? Or do you read belligerently, expecting them to fail?