I intended to write a cheery holiday entry today, drawing inspiration from Great Lakes Christmas Classics, a slim volume of short stories and other vignettes from the turn of the 19th into the 20th century that I picked up at the library on my last visit. Unfortunately, when I started reading said book, it made me less than cheerful. The first story, about a spinster who belonged to her village “in the same way that many wives belong to their husbands”, was almost enough to put me off entirely, especially when the happy ending was the spinster getting a man for Christmas. It was entirely too trite for my taste, even making allowances for it being written in 1897. I kept reading, hoping the first tale was not representative, but sadly the next two were just as hackneyed. Maybe in 1903 this stuff was fresh, but now it did nothing to entertain me. It did make me glad I live in a time where sexism isn’t as prevalent and women are deemed capable of surviving a northern Michigan winter, but I don’t think I need to force myself to read the rest of the book to reinforce that feeling.
Abandoning this book made me think about others I’ve given up on because they failed to engage or entertain me. After the first tape, I didn’t care about any of the characters in Death by Chocolate, possibly because I’d inadvertently chosen an abridged audio version; perhaps the parts that were cut fleshed out the characters and made them believable. Oh Bed, Oh Breakfast sounded funny on the book jacket, but the first chapters were filled with such stereotypical sexist nonsense that I couldn’t keep listening long enough to get to the humorous parts, assuming there were some. Just recently, I abandoned a book because the dialog was excruciatingly bad; I’ve blocked that title from my mind entirely.
All this is not to say that I don’t read some things that other people would consider a waste of time. There’s a fair amount of fluff on my reading list, light books I listen to in the car, mostly, and beach books. There’s a place in my life for the silly and even sometimes the stupid, but the Christmas tales from 1900 didn’t make even that cut. I’ll have to make up my own Christmas tales, or maybe do something today that my nieces’ grandkids will talk about into the next century.
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