The older I get, the more convinced I am that timing is everything where book perception is concerned. Now before you launch into a diatribe about how your favorite author/book stands the test of time and is just as excellent in any season (thereby disagreeing with me and Ecclesiastes 3.1: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven), hear me out.
In support of my thesis, picking up Tolstoy’s War and Peace in June was not a great idea. Now, sitting fireside in December might be a different story (I might even get to page 31!). Tracking the laundry list of Russian names wasn’t high on my to-do list this summer.
But seasons of the year aren’t the only timing issues on perception of book quality. What is read immediately before (or after) also matters a good bit.
The first two were excellent. Johnson’s work was a hauntingly realistic (I trust) look into life in North Korea and a different world from the one I inhabit. The Art of Fielding was full of rich characterization and a story I didn’t want to end.
Anonymous Sources follows a newspaper reporter on the higher education beat who stumbles into the center of a national security story. The book started off slowly, but did hold my attention once the action picked up. Overall the story was interesting, though the characters felt a little two-dimensional. It was a good read, and I have no doubt it might have been a great read had it not followed The Art of Fielding.
If you’re interested in national security/CIA thrillers (? I’m not sure exactly how to categorize this book), then check out Kelly’s work. She was an intelligence correspondent for NPR and her knowledge of the area shines in Anonymous Sources.
What’s next? I picked up Richard Wright’s Native Son, but I’m not convinced it will be next in the queue, it might be pushed back a spot or two. I’m open to recommendations, but remember, timing is everything (or at least some-thing).