The escalating hot sauce cycle of reading good books

I think I'm getting snobbish about books. I've been spoiled in this last year or so when it comes to great books. My to-read and recently read lists are packed with historical fiction and literary fiction but, up until a few years ago, I read fantasy, science fiction, and mystery novels almost exclusively. When I've tried to go back, I've found it harder and harder to ignore clumsy writing and less-than-three-dimensional characters. That sort of thing didn't bother me if the plot was good.

Last night, when I finished Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed, I felt obscurely disappointed. This was a book critics had gushed over. And it was a great read, don't get me wrong. But I wanted more depth, I suppose. I've been bothered by my reaction ever since. Then an analogy popped into my head that is helping me make sense of it. 

Reading better and better books is like using hotter and hotter hot sauce. After a while, you just can't taste the more mild varieties. You need something spicier. Then that stops satisfying you. Before you know it, you're seriously considering trying a sauce made with bhut jolokia (or whatever the literary equivalent is). 

While I'm reading "better" books, I regret that can't just enjoy fantasy or science fiction or mystery genre novels unless they break the mold in some way. Sometimes, you just want brain candy. But if you've been spoiled, you can't even taste it.

Having written all that, I do realize that I've just whined about a first world bookworm problem. 

What I really worry about is that this escalating hot sauce cycle is leading me to be harsher than I should in my reviews. 

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