Am I Suffering from Author Malaise?

I’ve raved about one of my favorite authors, Bill Bryson, in no fewer than three posts here at BL&S.  Bryson writes humorous nonfiction and makes it look effortless.  He’s written about his travels, his childhood, and recently, some epic books about the world and things in it.

Until recently, in my eyes, Bill could do no wrong.  I tirelessly crusaded to get my friends (and a few strangers) to read his books and no matter how often I reread A Walk in the Woods or any of his other gems, I always laugh.  I even managed to enjoy A Short History of Nearly Everything–a 560 page odyssey about the dawn of our universe and everything beyond.

At the beginning of November, I learned from fellow blogger Jenners at Life With Books that Bryson had written a new book.  Jenners raved about the book and gave At Home: A Short History of Private Life 4.5 stars.  I immediately downloaded the book to my Kindle and jumped in.

It pains me to admit that I, an admitted Bryson-lover and adamant non-quitter of books, have not been able to finish this book.  I managed to make my way through 31% of the book before flagging.  I’ve revisited the book on a number of occasions, thinking I wasn’t in the right mindset the last time I tried, to no avail.

It is a most disconcerting feeling to struggle with a book penned by one of my favorite authors when I’ve frothed over all his other books.  Maybe I’ll shelf it until 2011 and hope for the best.

Have you ever been down this road before?  Did you just cut and run on the book and wait for the author to publish something new?  Or could I possibly be suffering from the dreaded author malaise?


  • At 2010.12.12 23:48, Melissa said:

    I had this happen to me this summer when I read “A Gate at the Stairs” by Lorrie Moore, who has been one of my favorite authors for quite some time. I recommend her to everyone. I love everything Moore has written … except this book, which I could barely tolerate.

    It’s a terrible feeling to dislike something by one of your favorite authors. So disappointing.
    Melissa´s last blog post ..reverb10- beautifully different- parties- and wisdom

    • At 2010.12.13 00:44, Ti said:

      I feel the same way about Dan Simmons. Loved The Terror. Thought Drood was pretty darn good. I cannot for the life of me get through Black Hills though.

      I love Bryson too but it’s been downhill ever since A Walk In the Woods (which I think would make an awesome movie BTW).
      Ti´s last blog post ..The Sunday Salon- Tween Angst- Indie Lit Awards- In-Between Reading

      • At 2010.12.13 12:24, Coffee and a Book Chick said:

        Oh, what a bummer this didn’t work out for you, and from one of your favorite authors as well! The same thing happened to me with Elizabeth Kostova — I loved The Historian so much and felt that The Swan Thieves would have been glorious. Alas, no — it was very tough for me to finish it, and held nothing of the same magic as her debut novel did. It is horrifying for me to have to admit that out loud, so I know how you feel.
        Coffee and a Book Chick´s last blog post ..Monday- Monday! What Are You Reading

        • At 2010.12.13 14:23, Erin said:

          I’ve yet to come across an author from whom I’ve loved every single book. I think it’s ok to let this one go. Sometimes book and reader just don’t click, even if author and reader usually do.
          Erin´s last blog post ..Thoughts on “Daring to Eat a Peach” by Joseph Zeppetello

          • At 2010.12.13 17:42, Dishy said:

            I recently got hooked on P.d. James and began reading everything she’d written.. until Death in Holy Orders (*Insert sound of skidding tires*). Not sure why that book & I didn’t click. I’m thinking I’ll try it again in a few months, but I couldn’t get past chapter 2 or 3. Who knows why these things happen — maybe it’s time for a change?
            Dishy´s last blog post ..Just TWO MORE DAYS!

            • At 2010.12.14 14:21, toothybooks said:

              Fortunately enough this hasn’t happened to me so far! I wouldn’t know what to do if I had to call it quits on one of the books by my favorite authors especially when I love his back log so much! Good luck in 2011 and I hope the book gets better for you!
              toothybooks´s last blog post ..RIP Texans’ 2010 Season

              • At 2010.12.14 16:14, Gwen said:

                I have tried to get into this book at least three times in the past couple of months only to put it back on the shelf, so I can relate to your pain. However, I haven’t read anything else by him before, so maybe I should give some of his other work a try??

                What really infuriated me about At Home was the errors. They were glaring and I didn’t even have to do any research to know that they were wrong. ie. He states that the Reverend George Garrett invented the submarine and that it was launched in 1878. Well, I knew that they used submarines in the Civil War, so that his wasn’t the first.
                Gwen´s last blog post ..Buzz- The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley by Jeffrey Spivak

                • At 2010.12.14 21:13, Jenners said:

                  OOOOOOHHHHH NNNOOOOOO!!!!! I thought this book was wonderful!!! I loved it … I thought all the rambling stories and side bits were just fascinating. Sure it isn’t his travel writing but I thought it was wonderful. I’m so sorry it didn’t do it for you. : (
                  Jenners´s last blog post ..Things I Realized This Week

                  • At 2010.12.14 21:50, Natalie said:

                    never fear, friend. i wouldn’t dare to break up with a bryson book–we’re just taking a BREAK. lol. 2011 might be better for us.

                  • At 2010.12.14 23:17, Elisabeth said:

                    It was Lacuna for me. I have loved everything else that Barbara Kingsolver has written, but Lacuna was a DNF and oh so disappointing.

                    • At 2010.12.16 14:11, softdrink said:

                      I think it’s the book, not the author. It’s like he’s trying to include every obscure fact about anything remotely related to a house. I think I’m about 1/3 of the way through, too, but I’ve set it down for awhile.
                      softdrink´s last blog post ..Goats Gone Wild

                      • At 2010.12.21 08:56, Beth F said:

                        I know I’ll give it a try because I love Bryson — and am planning a reread of Walk with Mr. BFR in 2011. Maybe Jill (SoftDrink) is right and it’s not you at all.
                        Beth F´s last blog post ..Todays Read- The Hanging Tree by Bryan Gruley

                        (Required, will not be published)

                        CommentLuv badge