Welcome to My Official Web Page!

Welcome to My Official Web Page!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lessons From Mexico, Part II

2. Reading is good. But not all books are good.

Many of you know I recently rediscovered time for reading. When your two-year-old starts putting herself to bed and you get rid of the T.V. it's amazing how much free time you suddenly have. I have an informal goal to read 100 books this year, but I tend to go in spurts when school is out. Over Spring Break I read a couple, both current New York Times Bestsellers.

This one was amazing. Like as in, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, wipe away tears, laugh out loud amazing. I highly recommend everyone go pick up a copy of Little Bee by Chris Cleave from your local bookstore, library, or whatever. The back cover states, "We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. It's a special story and we don't want to spoil it." I'm not going to tell you what it's about either. Just go buy it. You can thank me later.

I left the second book in my cruise cabin. I never leave books behind. It's like a fallen soldier- they must return to my bookshelf. But not this one. It didn't deserve the suitcase space for the trip home. The plot was ridiculous, the characters unbelievable, and the setting never seemed to change. I wanted to gouge my eyeballs out. I would have put it down, but I've already put down two other books this year and it's kind of ruining my monthly average for the 100 book goal. I'm kind of a glutton for punishment.

Anyway, there was a lesson in all this. (Isn't there always?) Book preferences are subjective. I highly doubt anyone could pick up Little Bee and not like it, but I suppose there will be a few out there. And as for the nameless book? It's at the top of the NYT list so apparently I'm in the minority. I can tell you I certainly won't be starting a fan club for the book.

It doesn't matter what your story is. Someone will like it and someone will hate it. Just write it.

What about you? Any books you've read lately that rocked? Or books everyone else loved that you wanted to use as scratch paper?


Anonymous said...

Lisa Mantchev's Eyes Like Stars
Janette Rallison's My Fair Godmother
L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries
Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver
Aprilynne Pike's Wings

Could not get into them. I did finish Eyes Like Stars, which is saying something, but the others I just couldn't. I didn't find the characters likable, couldn't care about where the plot was going. Just couldn't bring myself to finish them.

Jemi Fraser said...

This happens to me sometimes too. I know some of the classics bore me to tears. There's one particular book a lot of people are buzzing about that I can't even bring myself to pick up. Even the ideas in in bore me :)

L. T. Host said...

I still don't have much time to read :( Managed to squeeze in a re-read of Michael Crichton's CONGO over like three weeks, but that one was just kind of funny, it's so dated now.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I loved Hillary Mantel's WOLF HALL - but then again I've always had a thing for Tudor history. Right now I'm reading Edward Rutherfurd's NEW YORK and enjoying it immensely. Books I'd happily abandon? Too many to mention - but usually they're the ones where the author is so busy piling incident upon incident that the logic of the plot is lost.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I read a national bestseller a few years ago. I could not figure out why everyone loved it so much. I trudged my way through it, but I was so happy when I finally finished.

Amalia T. said...

I usually feel compelled to finish even when I hate a book, just to satisfy the curiosity of what happens. Non-fiction is another story altogether though.

Lately I find myself drawn to historical fiction. Have any suggestions?

Elana Johnson said...

Ooh, that cover is gorgeous! I'm going to look for this right away. Great recommendation.

And I so agree with you on writing your story. Just write it. :)

Tahereh said...

great post and fab recommendation. i love your reading goal!

also, loved this line: It doesn't matter what your story is. Someone will like it and someone will hate it. Just write it.

so true. so important.

best of luck with everything!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Anonymous- I almost put down one of those (haven't read the others), but plugged away. It was bland all the way through.

Jemi- Hmmm... Now you have me wondering!

L.T.- One day soon you'll have reading time. Planning a wedding is a LOT of work!

Elspeth- The other problem is when there is no plot. I hate that.

Shannon- I've had that problem with two bestsellers in the last year. I can't fathom what people saw in them. Pretty covers?

Amalia- I was thinking of you because I'm currently reading Alcestis. It's doing a great job portraying the lot of women in ancient Greece. I'd rather be in ancient Egypt for sure!

Elana- I thought the cover was beautiful too- it's one of the reasons I picked it up!

Tahereh- Glad you liked the advice. It was kind of a pep talk to myself! :)

Julie Dao said...

I saw this very book at Borders over the weekend and I was thinking about buying it! Looks like I need to go back and actually do it. Thanks for the tip!

Wendy aka Quillfeather. said...

Little Bee, sounds most intriguing. I may have to rush to the library!

At the moment I'm rereading books in which I know will give me either a dose of inspiration or wrap me up in a comforting blanket of fullfillment. Sometimes it's better to read the devil you know rather than the devil you don't. If you know what I mean....

VR Barkowski said...

What a great question! I've read several so-so books over the last couple of months. But I've also had the pleasure of reading Lois Lowry's THE GIVER and NUMBER THE STARS for the first time. Wow! When I look back on books that really disappointed me, SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS always comes to mind. It was a literary mystery, set where I was living at the time, centering on themes that touched me deeply, but the book left me cold - no pun intended.

Jade said...

Ooooh! Intrigued...will locate book asap.

Just Another Sarah said...

I reread some of my favorite books--books that inspired me. "Half Magic," by Edward Eager; "Talking to Dragons," by Patricia C. Wrede; I was reading "The Necklace, and Other Stories," by Guy de Maupassant; a collection of short stories by Agatha Christie (I love short stories). I want to start rereading my Neil Gaiman books, as well, and also "Little Women" and "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Amalia T. said...

Not Euripides' Alcestis, I assume? The one by Katharine Beutner?

Stephanie Thornton said...

Amalia- The Beutner one. I'm only a third of the way through it, but it's pretty decent. I still think you'd enjoy Daughter of Troy by Sarah Franklin, if you can find a copy. I bet it's out of print now.

Amalia T. said...

I will wishlist it! I'm sure there's something used on amazon if nowhere else!

Amalia T. said...

oh! it looks like it's in mass market now! no problem, then!

Lola Sharp said...

I too read Little Bee...and LOVED it.

I read a LOT, and usually I know within 3 pages if it's going to be a turd or worth my time.
Fortunately, I try not to start books that don't hold a lot of promise. I can list plenty of blah books, but I prefer to list books I think are worthy, books I love, drool over and recommend.

Little Bee is worthy.

This is my first time here...great blog.


Dangerous With a Pen said...

Ooh, Little Bee, have not heard of that. Yippee! LOVE new book recommendations, especially if it's that good that I want to read it now even without a synopsis! Woo! ;)

I definitely scratch my head sometimes at certain books that everyone else loves. There is a tremendously popular series out right now that makes me go - Huh? Really? I couldn't make myself plow through the first book.

But of course, like you said, everything is subjective. :)