Every book engenders a response. It may be one of intense passion (love or hate), one of disinterest or it may fall somewhere in between. Each reader is likely to experience something different; who you are and what you have experienced flavours how you respond.
What if you read a book that numerous people have expressed their love for but it leaves you feeling...not disappointed or angry but...lacking? What if the book was extremely well written, with amazing world-building and fascinating characters, but one of those characters generates feelings of...inadequacy? How do you respond - to yourself and to others - when you haven't enjoyed a book as much as someone else, especially if the reasons for that lack of enjoyment have nothing to do with the author's 'craft' but instead stem from your own insecurities and doubts?
I will freely admit to being incredibly insecure about a myriad of things - some tangible, some not. If I were a heroine in a novel I think the majority of - actually, probably all - readers would throw the book at the wall in frustration with my lack of...spine (for want of a better word). Kick-a*s heroines are my Achilles heel. I can't picture myself as them in any way shape or form because I'm diametrically opposite. I'm not sassy or confident. It's not what they do (saving the world) [because who in real life has super powers?] but their demeanour and confidence...and what they look like. Kick-a*s heroines have a mould - gorgeous, fit, with amazing hair and skin. They are what I want to be...because they're everything I'm not.
I worried incessantly about reading this book before I picked it up; I thought having a kick-a*s heroine would push my insecurity buttons. But I got caught up in the hype surrounding the book and I thought it would be fine. And in a couple of the reviews I read the heroine didn't seem so kick-a*s. My mistake, because the heroine did push my buttons, more so I think because I love this author and...her heroine is as far from me as it is possible to be. Before you ask, no, my imagination is not good enough that I can 'pretend' to be her as I read the book, and yes, I do want to read the second book in the series. And yes, I am insane to be comparing myself to a fictional character, except that I compare myself to everything and everyone. It's...ingrained.
I have read other books with kick-a*s heroines since I started reading romance novels, but over the last 6-12 months these characters have bothered me more and more. I'm trying to work out who I am, deal with the issues I carry, but...before I started down this path I could ignore my emotions. Now they, as well as all of my faults, are right in front of me...and I don't know how to cope, except by not to read books that bring all of this...whatever it is I am feeling...to the surface. I guess I could try to learn to love myself, except for the small fact that I hate pretty much everything about me (and what I don't hate I dislike), so it's a pretty big call. And no, that statement is not meant to generate compliments. I'm not looking for compliments, I'm stating a fact. (And if I'm honest I don't really know how to deal with compliments anyway.) I think twice in my life I've looked in the mirror and thought I 'passed muster', but that was a long time ago...and I was younger then. Now I feel like the faults are all I see and no matter how hard I try I can't seem to fix one of them. Just one would be nice. *SIGH* Sometimes I wonder why I read romance novels. It isn't real...that connection...it doesn't happen in real life, does it? And if it does, I don't think it will happen to me. And obviously the majority of my friends and family assume so too as they have stopped asking about dates and partners. They assume I'm going to be single for the rest of my life. And considering what any potential partner would have to deal with, I think they are probably right.
And in case you are wondering where all of this...bile..is coming from, I don't know. Maybe it's because I spend all of my time fixing and organizing the lives of various family members who can't (and I do mean can't, not won't) and yet I can't fix myself.
So, do you ever compare yourself to a character from a novel? And, if so, have you ever read a book that has made you feel in some way less or perhaps more than who and what you are? And it is worth it?