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Musing Monday: Books Worth The Hype?

June 28, 2010

Today’s Musing Monday over at Books Like Breathing asks

What do you think of books that receive a lot of hype? (think of the “Twilight” saga, or “Harry Potter”, or “The Da Vinci Code”). Do you read them? Why, or why not?

I’ve at least sampled all three of the above-mentioned hyped books. I think I came to all of them late in the hype. I read Harry Potter after the third had come out in the States. And I was swept up enough in the story to pre-order them from The Goblet of Fire onwards. But not so swept up that I couldn’t acknowledge that JKR really needed a more heavy-handed editor in spots. (Book Seven, Harry Potter and the Infinite Road Trip of Doom, was a massive disappointment.) I think the hype of the books made the writing suffer, because editors let their cash cow, Rowling, get away with shoddier writing.

I went into The DaVinci Code with dismally low expectations. I remember thinking it was awful: the plot was obvious, the writing and characters laughably bad, but I couldn’t put it down. I think I’ve told this story here before. I read it in the best possible circumstance. I shared my copy with a former Jesuit. I got indignant about the awful writing. He got indignant about the mangling of canon law and Church history. I remember it was terrific fun to listen to him fume about the ways the book was so vastly wrong. We both scribbled outraged notes in the margins, venting our spleen. If I’m going to read something I hate that much, that’s absolutely the way to go.

I only got through the first Twilight book, because I wanted to see what the hype was about. Bella, and the bad writing, kept making me giggle. In ways I’m sure Stephenie Meyer never intended. I only made it through the first book, and that was a struggle. I can only take so much unintentionally funny pretentious swooning at once. I did, however, write a beer pairing post with a nod to Twilight. The fact that I can’t think for too long about Twilight without remembering this clip, probably marks me as not the ideal Twilight reader.

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