Recently trying to read Elantris I was sure I would love it. Yes, it’s early Brandon Sanderson and a lot of people warn it’s tough going, but I’m a big girl and I love Sanderson! Right? The premise sounds super interesting too, so in I went and 70 pages later, I hadn’t read for 3 days and was having a slight crisis.
Do I actually not like Brandon Sanderson?
That’s silly, I thought. I loved Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, Rithmatist was a joy, and I had a great time with Mistborn 1-3, of course I like Brandon Sanderson. He’s a master of worldbuilding, his magic systems are unique and the way he pulls out a book’s climax always leaves me desperate for more. So naturally, he’s been on my favourite authors list on Goodreads for years, for good reason.
However, those things don’t necessarily mean you love the work itself. They are just my opinions of his writing. And so I got to thinking: I have definitely *liked* Sanderson’s work in the past, but in hindsight, what did I *really* think? Did I actually love it or was it something else?
So we head back a decade to the time when I read the original Mistborn trilogy. I was reliably informed that this trilogy was amazing and everybody on Twitter I spoke to adored it, so of course I would too, that’s how this works, right? Everybody loves a book in the genre you love so that makes it amazing? So I read The Final Empire and adored it, ordered Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages and read those as well, except they were slower going. I can honestly say that in hindsight, I really didn’t like either book until they ramped up to their respective grand endings and I believe my ratings for both of them was based solely on the endings and not the journey. But the journey is so important.
I used to force myself to read through books I wasn’t enjoying because “they get better” and sometimes the payoff was good, but as I get older I realise that it’s not really worth it. If you’re reading a book and not enjoying it, or at least getting something out of it, what is the point? It’s possible to read through slow books or books you’re not totally into to get to the next in a series or whatever, but if it’s making you not enjoy reading then it’s an issue. That’s how I feel anyway, and I’m coming at you from the other end of a big old reading slump so your mileage may vary but for years I read this way, pushing through prose that made me want to sleep because “it got better” or I’d get a review out of it, at least, and then I’d end up in a slump and ignore the feeling, continuing reading the same way. That’s how you end up not reading for years.
Fast forward a few years and I finally picked up The Way of Kings, book one in the Stormlight Archive. This whole series is full of 1,000+ page doorstoppers and that was not going to slide when I was aiming to get out a book review every 1 or 2 weeks, I’m much too slow a reader. However, once I left book blogging I dove in.
Now, the Stormlight Archive is interesting to look at because it’s a whole lot of building. I loved it back when I read it. Worldbuilding fascinates me and I enjoyed following the unravelling lore of the world through books one and two.
Thinking about it several years on, however, I wonder if my reading tastes have changed? I still love rich worldbuilding and a solid climax, who doesn’t? But I think in a post-reading slump world, things have shifted for me. I’ve had mental health crises since then, I was unable to read much at all for years and the way my brain functions is not the same as it was. I think I need faster-paced books and stronger characters these days and you know what? That’s cool. It makes me a little sad, I suppose. The joy of tucking into a thick tome is something special indeed, but there are plenty of books in the sea, and plenty of doorstoppers that may still fit what I need from a book, and to be clear I am still very much reading for pleasure, if I don’t have a review out for a month then that’s okay, it’s not the only content I have to offer.
I guess what I can conclude is that I’m just not as big a Brandon Sanderson fan as I thought I was. It doesn’t mean I’ll never read his books again or Elantris is done for, I think I just need a little more time. I’m basically starting my reading journey from scratch at this point and I need to be more conscious of my book choices for a while longer, make sure I don’t slip back into the slump and the I’m not slowed down too much by the brain fog. I just have to remind myself that my finding Elantris and Tigana a struggle doesn’t mean that I don’t like high fantasy anymore because come on… this is me we’re talking about. Just because I’m off exploring other authors and other genres doesn’t make me any less of a fantasy head nor does it mean Brandon Sanderson is off-limits.
Now, that’s quite enough from me. If any of this vibed with you then I encourage you to think a little deeper about your reading habits and choices and consider switching things up a bit! Websites like The StoryGraph can help us explore more of what we’re actually in the mood for (their recommendations are truly wonderful) and it’s worth not letting ourselves stagnate if we want to really enjoy this hobby of ours.