I can usually lose myself as easily in a book about the history of the Riemann zeta function as I can an Ishiguoro novel, but "Guns, Germs and Steel" still awaits a complete reading by me despite four attempts.
Strange. I have the opposite reaction. Ishiguoro annoys me and I'm not reading another math book unless I get paid, but Guns, Germs, and Steel
was a quick read on a Sunday afternoon. GGS was crap, but it was fast crap, unlike many of the things Macaroon apparently wants people to read. I seldom encounter an award-winning book that is worth the effort I put into reading (I read it because I believe in continuing education), unlike random books just sitting on the shelf where I often encounter ideas that I wouldn't otherwise encounter because the worldview is so different from my daily experience.
The problem with many of the books chosen for their importance is the desperate need to whack the reader over the head with the BIG, IMPORTANT ideas every.single.paragraph. If the ideas are present, then I can pick them up, especially if the point is to contrast what is with what could be.
Hmm, what would the world be like if world leaders were engaged in bread and circuses to placate the masses instead of having open societies? What would happen if someone came along and fought the system?
What would happen if you were the only one who knew that something was rotten in Denmark and you had to somehow get support to save the world?
Yeah, let's ignore the reams of books in those category and instead teach children that books are those boring things that teach a lesson with a 2x4 instead of another way to investigate the world and think about actions, consequences, and possibilities.
I no longer wonder, Macaroon, why you continue to express such difficulty in making new friends where you are. If you don't read, you don't watch television, and you don't look for friends for whatever hobby you have, then of course you won't find friends. Shared interests of some sort are usually the ways that people make friends. Even those of us who are generally considered obnoxious bores sometimes make concessions so that we can get enough of a foot in the door to have a prayer of finding shared interests.