Friday, June 12, 2015

Must-read books

I made Pat start reading a book I love love love.

(Ok, so I can't actually make Pat do anything. But I did set it on the table in front of him and say "I think you should read this next" and when he finished his book he started reading it next because I told him to.)

And now I have the same kind of nervousness I did when he asked to watch my favorite movie, You've Got Mail, and I had to sit there and watch it with him and sneak glances and gauge his reaction to all my favorite scenes, lines, facial expressions.

(I do have favorite facial expressions in that movie, thank you very much.)

But today, I was thinking about how you can't really predict what someone will think of a book.

I made the mistake of reading the Goodreads reviews for a book I finished recently. I was hooked on it, gave it four stars, couldn't put it down. And it had about a bajillion negative reviews. Some were on point, just things that hadn't really detracted from my enjoyment -- like, yes, it's a flaw in the book, but I still enjoyed it a lot. And it made me question whether my four stars were overkill and was it really a good book and good lord people have told me they read books just because I've reviewed them and then what if they hate them and what will they think of me??

One more anecdote -- another book I love love love is The Book Thief. Love it. In my second year in grad school, someone made a second attempt at starting a book club. (The first attempt had failed the year before after discussing exactly one book.)

The first book the New Book Club picked was The Book Thief and I was stoked. I reread it in preparation. I went to the discussion meeting, which took place in a bar because duh, and discovered everyone had hated it. Most people didn't even finish reading it.

In my head today, before I started thinking all of this, I was making a list of books I think all people should read, or at least start to read and they can put it down if they want. The book I've asked Pat to read, The Scorpio Races, would be on my list. So would the Harry Potter series, though I know plenty of people who don't really like HP.

What would be on your list? Have you known people who read your faves and hated them? I'm curious!

(Pat has not yet finished the book -- he's studying for the CPA tests and doesn't have much time for reading these days, but he'll likely pick it back up after his tests are done.)


Cassy said...

I was just talking about this in a class the other day! We were supposed to pick four books that represented us as readers, and my top choice was "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," because it was the first classic I ever read, and I still love it. But almost no one in the class had even heard of it, and those who had read it didn't like it - they found it boring. For me, the imagery is so strong that I can still bring it up in my mind, even though it's actually been many years since I've read it. To me, that is some powerful writing. But, to each his/her own. I'm glad Goodreads reviews weren't around when I first read "Tree," because I sometimes let those influence me more than they should!

elena said...

omg it is ALWAYS so nerve-wrecking when you're giving a person one of your favorite books or films!! esp when they HATE it. I loved The Book Thief but I know not everyone feels the same way. when people hate my favorite things, I just have to remind myself I probably hate some of THEIRS and everyone's opinions are different.

Kate said...

We've definitely talked about this before, but suggesting books to other adults makes me SO NERVOUS for all the reasons you mentioned. What will they think of me if I love/suggest a book they hate?! I don't need someone else's approval, but at the same time.. I feel like people EXPECT me to have "good taste" or whatever even though everyone's opinions are so different.

I find it so interesting to read negative reviews on books I've loved. Usually, I can fully understand the opinion of the reviewer, but it's stuff that didn't matter to me. Or maybe I just connected to the characters so much, I was able to overlook the problems.

I think it's interesting to see how differently we review the same books sometimes. Because I knew we have so much in common, but we see and experience things so differently. And I mean, sometimes, the way you feel about a book can be determined just by your mood at the time of reading it, ya know?

It's so cliche, but I think everyone should read To Kill a Mockingbird. There is just so much packed into such a simple book.


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