Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On Reading Best-Sellers

One of the most common things I hear from people is that they "don't read what everyone else is reading" or are "turned-off" by books being on the best-seller list. I get it, I do. A lot of those books aren't my cup of tea {Nicholas Sparks, for instance, I can't stand} or are of a genre that I *really* have to be in the mood for.

What I don't understand is the aversion to something just because a whole lot of other people like it. So many people have said, "well, maybe I'll read that book when the hype dies down," as if there is something inherently wrong with reading a book when others are reading it also.

More than that, I wonder why there is so much hostility to what folks read. There's been a lot of "that book is so awful, it's for people who don't know what REAL books are supposed to be like." Why all the criticism? Recently, I got some fairly, erm, nasty comments about some of my reading choices {and not 50 Shades! I was shocked!} that left me a bit jaded.

I try to write honest reviews that present not only why *I* enjoyed the book {or didn't}, but why perhaps others might not enjoy it the way I did. I've never claimed to be a bastion of literary knowledge. I read things because I find them interesting, or stimulating, or because I'm in a particular mood, not necessarily because of their "literary merit." Sometimes I read books I know aren't very well written because I know I'll like the story and need an escape. Sometimes, I'm in the mood for something dense, sometimes I want to read about other people's experiences, and sometimes I just like the cover.

Expanding on that, I pick out books to read in a variety of ways. I don't run out and buy every single best-seller out there, but if I start hearing about a book {or series} that sounds like something I would like, I'll give it a try. I use the best-seller list as one way to find new and interesting books just as I use Goodreads, Book Club Friday, recommendations from blog and non-blog friends, and simply browsing through the bookstore or library.

Books that I found through the best-seller list {and loved}?

The Harry Potter series
Cinderella Ate my Daughter
Let's Pretend This Never Happened
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Hunger Games {and series}
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo {and series}  
The Inheritance Trilogy
 The Time Traveler's Wife
The Kite Runner
Eat, Pray, Love

And that's just naming a few that I enjoyed and does not include books I read and loved before or without knowing they were bestsellers. Sometimes, I read books that I'm not excited about {here's looking at you, Twilight}, but a whole bunch of other people loved. That doesn't mean I think those people are stupid, or ignorant, or have awful taste in books. It means that I, personally, found the books to be boring, or awful, or that I simply couldn't get into it. Even if we're talking about a book that I vehemently disagree with {I'll leave what types of books those are to your imagination}, that doesn't make it a less valid choice for someone who thinks differently than I do and certainly doesn't make them ignorant {even if the book has awful data or lies, the ignorance does not come from the book}.

When we recognize those differences and stop judging, we open ourselves up to some excellent dialogue. Instead of, "how can you READ that, you're so DUMB," we could be saying, "I see why you liked or agreed with that book. I didn't like it or agree with it based on ________." Doesn't that sound much better?

I think it's time that we start supporting other readers. So many people don't read and it's really not helping anyone when all we do is judge each other based on whether a book was smart enough or "real" enough to be considered worthy of our attention Don't judge, y'all. Live and let live. Read, and let read.


  1. Preach it! I totally agree w/ you on this. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten a weird look just for reading in general, let alone reading something that was currently popular. It's like people think you have to fit into a certain teeny-bopper stereotype to read certain books or something. I read what I like - sometimes it's popular, sometimes it's not - but I don't really worry about it too much.

  2. I just don't get why people have to get so pretentious and hipster like when it comes to books. Seriously. Who cares??? Read what tickles your fancy!

  3. I second Meg's comment. I dont get why other people care so much about what other people read!