There is nothing more disappointing to me as a reader than an over-hyped book. I am always on the lookout for the next author/series/character/story to fall in love with. Give me hundreds of pages with new worlds, driven plots and well-developed, complex characters and I am in swoon city. Hype has promised me multiple books that boast exactly this in 2017. Hype has disappointed me so many times.
When a book has a lot of buzz surrounding the release, I certainly know that it has as much to do with brilliant marketing as it does an actual good novel. I live in the world. But I still have such high hopes when I start seeing from the same circle of reliable sources that brought me beloved books and stories over the years, that a new and exciting novel is on its way to us. I get an immense thrill as I anticipate its arrival (whether via purchase or library hold).
However, when I finally get that same book that I have been waiting for, that these sources have exalted in praise, and I find that I don’t really care for it? That, it seems it’s only because of brilliant marketing that everyone is reading this unremarkable book? It’s far worse than if I had stumbled upon the book on my own and found it boring or not to my taste.
There is something unsettling about not liking a book that is extremely popular. I look at the five-star reviews on Goodreads and am plummeted into my own thought spiral about what I could have possibly missed that lead to my own 2-star rating. It’s this weird retrospective peer-pressure. Thousands of people clearly liked this book. The cheese stands alone. Conversely, I wonder what the hell is wrong with everyone else that they could love a book so clearly lacking.
It’s all part of what makes being a reader so interesting. That we could read the same words, stories and characters, and draw entirely different conclusions about them. You say “best book of 2017”, I say, “meh (shrug).”
I feel as though in this excitement and optimism around hyped books, I’m most certainly poised for disappointment more often than not. It puts too much pressure on the book to be great, too much pressure on myself as a reader to love it out the gate instead of finding within it what I need to find. A book will always read differently to where we are in our lives, what we are doing, what we are needing from and seeking in stories.
Apparently, right now, I have no time for self-indulgent characters, meandering plots and sickly sweet love stories. There was once a time in my life that this was all I was looking for in a book, but my patience for and interest in them has grown thin.
Then again, hype has steered me in many excellent directions as well this year (hello, The Hate U Give), so it’s basically a crapshoot and calls for our own discernment, as ever. Welcome to my circuitous thinking. Ultimately, as my tastes change and I continue to develop and sharpen my own critical eye, I am going to stop relying so much on hype, and instead spend more time searching for books that seem to also be seeking me.
Interested in all the books I’ve loved and loathed this year? Follow me on Goodreads!
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