Have you ever been in that mood in an airport bookstore, or maybe when you have insomnia, and you just want a book to read, any book, that makes you forget yourself and while away an hour or two?
I was in that mood, just a couple of weeks ago, picked up a random bestseller (the current thriller by James Patterson), had barely got through a quarter of it when I started skimming, then skipping to the end. End result? Disappointment.
Actually, I should have known that was coming. Whenever I’ve picked up what I’ve come to term “nothing books for nobody people,” I’ve invariably been disappointed. You know, books that fall into the “beach books” or “train reading” category. Books that if they fell out of your bag you wouldn’t miss, and wouldn’t bother replacing.
Some people call them “escapist fiction.”
Yesterday night I had insomnia and remembered an Agatha Christie I had picked up the other day at a charity used book sale for our local library. My memories of Agatha Christie have always been a bit rose-colored since her mysteries when I was younger, seemed clever and quaint, with a detective and his egg-shaped head and OCD problems.
So I was looking for some cheap entertainment for an insomniac moment and found instead frustrated disappointment. Just as I had at differing times with contemporary writers like Alexander McCall-Smith and P.D. James.
Right now I’m dwelling on the mystery/thriller genre, but the same applies to “nothing books for nobody people” in any genre, including the literary. They are books that require a state of enervated being, weakness or boredom or or a sense of being held hostage to a situation. They require a blank slate or a sophomoric passivity. And even then, they will disappoint to the extent that quite likely you will never pick them up again except in a moment of desperation.
“Nothing books for nobody people” require not just a willing suspension of disbelief as all fiction does, but a willing suspension of any discernment whatsoever, whether intellectual or common sense.
For example, if you’re looking for a mystery/thriller that’s a “something book for somebody people,” pick up a classic (there’s a reason why they’re called that), like one by Raymond Chandler or Stephen King (depending on the title).
But frankly the best book to have ready at those odd enervated moments during the day or night is the Bible. Or for train/airport/beach reading, a well-written history.
You won’t be disappointed. End of story.