Absence makes the heart…

7 Sep

grow fonder…. Right?

This is how I’m justifying the impromptu blogging break I took. My apologies for not giving any warning whatsoever. I didn’t really realize how long it had been myself until I check the site and looked at the date of the last post. My bad, guys. My bad.

But I have a reason. Which actually leads me to my topic for the day:

Does your mood affect the kinds of books you read? And similarly, will you not enjoy a book as much if you’re in a different frame of mind than the book?

This is why I ask: I checked out The Good Son by Michael Gruber from the library a few weeks ago. I was entirely expecting to love it. It’s a smart, fast, twisty thriller — exactly the kind of book I like to dig into when I want to use my brain, but not all of it.

But I could not, for the life of me, get into it. It’s not as if it’s a bad book. In fact, it’s very well written, and in different circumstances, I’m sure I’d be raving about it. But my mood does not match the book. Take a look at the review given by Publisher’s Weekly:

Bestseller Gruber explores America’s political involvement in South Asia and the bloody religious and ethnic fanaticism associated with the region in his superb seventh novel. Sonia Laghari, a Pakistani-American writer and psychologist, sets up a conference on peace in Kashmir, ‘the most terrorist-infested place on earth,’ only to have her and her small group of pacifists abducted and held captive by terrorists, who may or may not be manufacturing nuclear weapons. All but doomed to a public beheading, Sonia uses her familiarity with Islamic doctrine as well as her knowledge of Jungian psychology in an attempt to enlighten her deeply conflicted captors. Though the numerous bombshells at the end may strain credulity, the brilliant character development and labyrinthine plot line, not to mention the absorbing history of modern jihadism and the U.S. war on terrorism, make this a provocative thriller that readers won’t soon forget.

It’s a little dark, a little too real, which normally I would love. But this time, I could only make it 150 pages in before giving up. Why? Because my mood is…not to oversell it…a little more sunshine-and-flowers right now. I don’t want to get into all the nitty-gritty, but let’s just say…there’s a boy. And I kinda like him a lot. I’m not really in the mood for psychological, international spy thrillers. I’m just not.

So…does this happen to anyone else? Can you separate yourself from the books you’re reading? Or do your books have to — if not match — at least not work against your mood? I’m sure I’ll pick this one up again. But not in the near future. It’s got to go back to the library, and I haven’t found a place to fit it into my Fall Challenge anyway.

For an actual review of The Good Son from someone who isn’t all starry-eyed, check out Greg’s most recent post at The New Dork Review of Books.

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2 Responses to “Absence makes the heart…”

  1. Greg Zimmerman September 7, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    Hey, thanks for the linkage – you may be the only one who read that review!

    To answer your question: No question. Mood – or just what’s happening at the moment – definitely affects your relationship with a book. Happens to me all the time, too. But I don’t make any attempt to try to match – that’s too hard.

    Good luck with the starry-eyedness. 😉

  2. Kerry September 8, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    Absolutely, mood is crucial to what I read at any moment. I’ve often put books down because I know it’s just not the right time to be reading it. Hope all goes well with the boy!

    And for the record, Greg, I read your review of The Good Son. Like Vince Flynn met Hosseini, or something along those lines?

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