Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thinking On Thursday: Scared To Start Syndrome

Tell me if this has ever happened to you: you go out and buy a new book. It can be from a completely new author, or it could be from an author whose work you have previously enjoyed--perhaps it's the continuation of a series. You get the book home and put it on your shelf. And then... you sit. You wait. And that poor neglected book collects dust. It's not that you've forgotten about it. Oh, no. That would be too simple. Instead, you are actually paralyzed with an insane sense of dread or fear at the thought of picking that book up.

Welcome to what I call "Scared To Start Syndrome". All my life I've been aware of it in writing, but only since I started blogging--likely due to my much higher level of book consumption and the compulsive need to read (and buy) more did I realize it could effect me as a reader as well. As I've read and reviewed more books, my tolerance for things that don't work for me in fiction has grown lower and lower. It's like I have a little buzzer inside that goes "Nope!" if something is wrong 'enough' with a book and then I won't want to finish it.

But even after nearly two years of book blogging, I have not perfected the art of screening books to a point where this never happens. (I actually think that's almost impossible.) There are ways to minimize the risk: reading samples when possible, knowing what types of stories you like and what types tend to push your buttons. ...But that doesn't cover it all. What about those times when the book either comes highly recommended or is part of a series where you liked book one?

Today I'm going to spotlight a few books that have been collecting dust, try to explore where why I may have Scared to Start Syndrome regarding them and then leave the floor open for you guys to tell me what you think. I'd also love to know whether any of you have dealt with this and if you have any thoughts on getting past it.

Afraid Of New Authors? 

Here are a few books that have been sitting on my shelf for ages, by authors I've never read before, that I just haven't opened. You might be surprised who I haven't read--and why.

Across the Universe
by Beth Revis
Purchased: September 2011

Why I Wanted It: The premise for this sounds fascinating and with several great sounding YA sci-fi books released or releasing around this time (Obsidian and Glow both come to mind) and the fact that I was likely either playing or excited for Mass Effect 2, Sci-fi was a big thing for me.

Why It's Still Unread: It started as simple procrastination, often combined with other books getting in the way. But it may also be that Obsidian was so damn good that when it comes to sci-fi I just don't feel as drawn as I'd like to be. (Glow is also sitting here going "Read me", FYI.) This may sound unfair, but hey, at least it's honest.

Reasons To Read: I've heard so many fantastic things about this book and the series it is from. With the third book just out / coming out this seems like a fantastic time to finally sit down and get started. I don't often read series together, but I'm getting less strict about this since I actually have several reviews that I can mix with reviews for a series now.

by Sophie Jordan
Purchased: September 2011

Why I Wanted It: Two words: Dragon Shapeshifters. C'mon, if you're a paranormal or fantasy fan those just sound plain awesome. I actually remember bugging a poor sales clerk to check the back for this one because I wanted it so bad. Yet it's sat on my shelf for over a year. That strikes me as being just the slightest bit pathetic.

Why It's Still Unread: Two words: dragon shapeshifters. This premise is so epic, yet there is a chance the execution could fail miserably and the thought of that freezes me cold. (Plus the heroine is doing something against the rules on page one and I'll confess--I'm scared for her!) Also, I love the name Cassian, but my gut tells me that even if I like him, our heroine is not going to share my opinion. (And odds are I will. I always seem to be on the wrong team.. Grr...)

Reasons To Read: Two words: (yet again...) Dragon Shapeshifters. It still sounds like a totally epic premise just as much now as it did then. Bonus: all three books for this series have released so if I like book one I can get the other two. Plus, I've already bought book one so what do I have to lose?

by Marissa Meyer
Purchased: December 2011 (boxing day)

Why I Wanted It: I love fairy tale retellings and had requested this and not been chosen for it. When I saw it at Chapters--early, no less--I couldn't resist grabbing it. The idea of a sci-fi version of Cinderella, with our leading lady as a cyborg, sounded totally cool and original and I really wanted to read the book and share an opinion one way or another.

Why It's Still Unread: Cinderella is probably one of my least favorite fairy tales, likely because I grew up with the Disney version which I find kinda cheesy. (Although I do adore the movie Ever After, so it's a bit of a paradox?) I also think this book got kinda swept under the rug and left forgotten since I had amassed a pretty huge TBR pile and couldn't figure out how to decide anything.

Reasons To Read: Well, first and foremost a ton of friends have told me I "must" read this book, so doing that so I can discuss it seems like a really smart idea. Then there's also the fact that the sequel just came out and I need to know whether I want to pick that up when I go to Chapters for my birthday in a couple weeks. I've also heard that this is extremely original and well written, and I like supporting both of those things. If Cinder is good, I need to know so I can start telling people that too.

Scared To Start Sequels? 

Even more strange then the uncertainty that can be found in checking out a new author, is the uncertainty and anxiety that I can sometimes feel at the thought of reading a sequel to a book that I really loved. I mean, unless the first book had a totally craptacular cliffhanger ending, when I open those new pages I'm pretty much setting off a bomb. What will happen to these characters? Am I making things better or worse? Maybe I think this way because I write, too? But the point is that I *do* think this way. Anyone else do that?

Clockwork Prince
by Cassandra Clare
Purchased: December 2011

Why I Wanted It: This started out as an "Oh, pretty and 30% off!" random grab at WalMart. I went and got Clockwork Angel on boxing day and it was one of the first books I reviewed in 2012. I knew I was looking forward to Clockwork Prince after finishing Clockwork Angel, but these books are so big and I spent a lot of time last year revising my novel. So...

Why It's Still Unread: I try to read in such a way that my blog promotes a variety of authors. Cassandra Clare is *huge*. It doesn't matter if I like her stuff or not--let's be really blunt for a minute--she does NOT need my help. That doesn't mean I'm against her, or that I won't read her, but as someone working toward publication (self or otherwise) I like to try and make a difference, weird as that may sound. Oh, and I think I mentioned how BIG this book is, right? Yes, even I can get intimidated by a big book sometimes.

Reasons To Read: I liked the first one. A lot. So there is no reason not to read the next one. The last one comes out in March (?) and it would be nice to be caught up so I can complete this. Plus, it's just kinda sad that I've had it sitting here this long. That was so not my intent. Sure we all know Tessa is going to end up with Will (Do I sound bitter? I really like Jem.) but it is how and why that will actually matter, as it always does with romance.

by Veronica Roth
Purchased: April 2012

Why I Wanted It: Oh, come on! It's the sequel to Divergent, yo! (Yeah, I'm *really* glad I'm caught up on Riders of the Apocalypse, but talking like Death needs to go. ASAP.) Divergent was one of my favorite books read in 2011 so I figured that buying and reading Insurgent would be a total no brainer. Instant easy read I'd devour in a day or three. Wrong.

Why It's Still Unread: Well, first off, I got this along with The Fault In Our Stars and The Selection, both books that I devoured immediately. Then there's also the fact that this book is huge and it starts off immediately. I think I may actually (*groan, another big book...*) have to re-read Divergent first before I get into this, if I'm totally honest.

Reasons To Read: The first book was absolutely phenomenal, so I have little doubt this one will be anything but awesome. I really liked Tris and totally LOVED Four and this was something I intended to gobble up the day I got it. I seem to recall deciding I'd hold off reviewing this because Everyone was reading it and I had gotten so Sick of the promo done for it. But now would likely be a good time to settle down and get caught up so I'm ready when the next book releases.

The Iron Daughter
by Julie Kagawa
Purchaed: October 2011

Why I Wanted It: After reading The Iron King, which I absolutely loved, I picked up The Iron Daughter and The Iron Queen (and eventually The Iron Knight, too) thinking I would have no trouble getting to them. When I love the first in a series and find the writing effortless it makes me pretty confident in picking up the sequels. But I just never got to these, for some reason.

Why It's Still Unread: I bought way, way, WAY too much stuff in 2012 and going into 2013 my shelves are so crammed that I don't know what to do with half of what's there. I cannot read everything that comes out that I want to read. It's just flat up impossible. And then the choice comes between reading what's "new" and what's "new to me" and my brain just goes totally frozen. Plus, now there's a huge gap from when I read book one and I'll likely need to re-read it.

Reasons To Read: Well first off, I bought all of these, plus the eBooks, plus The Lost Prince. So obviously I'm interested. Second, the first book was great and I need to see these characters reach their happy ending. And third, I'm sick and tired of buying stuff and not finishing it and having it clutter my room. I swear I'm going to have a book avalanche in here some day and they'll find me buried under all of the stuff I have. O.o

So, are there any books you've struggled to start? Is there anything here that you think I must ABSOLUTELY read? I'd love to know so feel free to leave a comment! 


  1. Cinder rocked and I enjoyed Insurgent more then Divergent. For me the book you are referring to is Night Circus. I bought it the week it released.

    1. I bought that one too and never opened it past the title page. I was really bad for that a while back, going "Oh, look! It's ______ and it's On Sale!" *shakes head* I'm hoping to get to some of these soon, because just having them sit here is silly.

  2. Ok so this post IS SO TRUE. Like, I can't even right now because I can simply relate so much to you! I'm always so scared to start a series for various reasons, usually for hype though. Especially books that I've bought. I hate those books that stare out at you every time you even glance at your bookshelf, right now, that book is The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer for me. Seriously, one glance at the bookshelf and that book will stand out at me. It's honestly calling my name, but I'm afraid I won't like it!!

    While I normally don't have this problem with sequels, because I'm so excited to read them, there are a few books I have this problem with, normally with the third book, because I just don't want things to end. But I really do think you should try reading Cinder and Insurgent. If you don't like them, it's ok! It won't be the apocalypse!

    If only I were to take my own advice... ;)

    Seriously fantastic post! It's so relatable. Hopefully we will get over this problem soon?

  3. I loved reading about your reasons! I sometimes dread reading a friend's book . . . what if I hate it? EEK!!!

    1. Oh, yes! There are several friends I've done beta work for, or people I've reviewed who have ended up becoming my friends, and that can be really tough. I feel that I need to be extra careful HOW I put things, but also extra aware of what I say that is positive and what I say that is insightful. If I'm too blunt, I might harm a friend. But if I'm too sugary, readers aren't going to feel the review is genuine. I'm never "rude" when I review, but I do strive to be honest.

  4. This happens to me too! Especially with books that I'm reading more because they were recommended to me than because I actually think I'll like them. It also happens with books that have been hyped up a lot and I'm worried wont' live up to expectations. Out of the ones on your list, I really do recommend Cinder! The rest I wasn't necessarily a big fan of.


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