Updated on January 23, 2017
So good, I had to stop reading
“I couldn’t put it down” is common praise for a really good book. It means that the story is so interesting, the characters so compelling that you just have to carry on reading. But have you ever come across a book so good that you had to stop reading? I have.
Last weekend I started The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu, a collection of literary sci-fi/fantasy stories, almost all of which have been nominated for or won important short story prizes. I got two stories in (or about 25 pages out of 435) and they were so brilliant that I had to put the book down. The stories were ‘The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species’ and ‘State Change’.
For a few minutes all I did was stare into space and sigh heavily. Then I told my boyfriend about the story ‘State Change’. Then I went on the website for my local library and added every book Liu has written (and other people’s work he’s translated) to my wishlist. Finally, I got out some cross-stitch because I knew I wasn’t going to get any more reading done that evening.
These are the feelings I had that were so overwhelming I had to stop reading:
- “I have to think about what I just read.”
- “How on earth did he come up with those ideas?”
- “I knew I’d like this and I can’t believe I didn’t pick it up sooner.”
- “I will never be able to read those stories for the first time again.”
- “I want this book to last as long as possible.”
- “I am jealous that I can’t write like this.”
- “I am so excited to read the rest.”
- “I am scared to read the rest, because it might not be as good.”
- “My heart hurts.”
All in all, that half hour of reading had a pretty awesome emotional and physical impact on me (I could feel a lump in the back of my throat). I don’t know if the rest of the collection is going to live up to those first two stories, but it probably doesn’t matter. A reading experience like that – where you read just the right thing at just the right time for you – is rare, and I’m so lucky that it happened to me.
Have you ever read anything so good you had to put it down? Leave a comment down below – I’d love to know!
You can buy The Paper Menagerie from the Book Depository.