It used to be that if I started a book, I made myself finish it, even if I hated every word, every minute I spent reading it. I’d plod on, determined to reach the end, as if admitting that I hated it was a personal failure. Later, in the knowledge there are so many millions of books in the world, it used to be that if a book hadn’t grabbed me by the end of the first chapter, I’d toss it aside. If I wasn’t enjoying it 30 pages in, then it was unlikely to change. Then there was subject matter. A thriller? No way. Horror? *shudders* I’m too much of a pussycat to read horror. Stories focusing around parenthood? Get me out of here. But that was then and this is now.

Nowadays I’ve struck a happy balance. If a book hasn’t grabbed me by the end of the first chapter, I’ll read the second, the third and maybe the fourth. Past that, I will set it aside. If a book is sloppily written or poorly edited, I can get past that if the story is compelling, if the plot sucks me in, if the characters make me love (or hate) them. It’s still a great book for the pleasure it brings, even if it’s not a “great” book. While I’m still a cowardy-custard when it comes to horror, I’ll give it a go if the back blurb is intriguing or someone whose opinion I trust recs it. There are thrillers that have me hooked. Books where parenting is the focus still leave me cold, but I’m sure if I thought for long enough I’d come up with something that I’ve read and adored.

I love red curry tofu. But when I go to a Thai restaurant, I don’t have red curry tofu every time. I’ll try something I don’t know, or that doesn’t sound too pleasant, and hope that I enjoy it. Most of the time I do. Sure, I could live on red curry tofu, but it would get a little dull over time. Where’s the stimulation to the taste buds?

It’s now the same with books. Political thriller? Sure. Zombie apocalypse? I’ll give it a go. You’d have to tie me up, duct tape my eyes open, and balance the book on my nose to get me to read right-wing propaganda, but beyond that it’s up for negotiation.