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Booksnob, party of one

January 17, 2007

Yesterday, during our getting-to-know-yous, many people listed very popular authors as their favorites. You don’t need me to tell you the names; you’ve heard them over and over again.

If my favorite author writes romance novels, what room do I have to speak? Why was I twitching?

I mean, I read junk. Absolute junk. I read literature, too, but sometimes the most mind-numbing cliched junk of all time. Until she completely pissed me off (by having a twelve-year-old play an M-rated game in one of her books), I used to read Nora Roberts. I’ve read almost every Stephen King novel up to Gerald’s Game. I read dated science fiction, which has the most passively pathetic female characters. (Oh, except for Anne in Stranger in a Strange Land; she rocked.) I’ve read “bodice rippers.” I’ve even read a few Oprah books. (Although in Winfrey’s defense, I’ve liked every single one of those books, although I Know This Much Is True wasn’t half as good as She’s Come Undone.)

So why do the names Dan Brown and Nicholas Sparks cause me to make this FACE? You know it. It’s the snotty smirk, the one that I make when people try to talk to me about Evanescence.

Before you judge me too harshly (as being someone who judges you too harshly?), let me tell you a story about me and Anne Rice.

I “discovered” Anne Rice when I was twelve years old. My aunt Teffy, who was only thirteen (a half-aunt from my grandfather’s second marriage), had a copy of Interview with the Vampire on her shelf and, being a kid who’d always been into the occult, I asked to borrow it. During the long drive home from the Poconos (ridiculously long when you’re young), with my sister under a blanket next to me in the back of the station wagon my father used to cart his amps, guitars, microphone stands, etc, I devoured that book. I loved it.

The next year, when I was in eighth grade, a lovely teacher by the name of Ann Diana pointed out to me that there was a sequel. So I read that, and loved it, and the next one, and loved it, and loved Belinda, and loved Exit to Eden, and so on and so forth.

When I was nineteen, I reread Interview–not for the first time, but for the first time in a while–but my response was entirely different. “Wow, this is…whiny.” I still loved Lestat and Belinda, but the shine was starting to come off. The one with Jesus (the FIRST one with Jesus, where Lestat goes back in time or something) was okay. Pandora was…uninspired. I’m not into HoYay so that wasn’t going to keep me in. The last nail in the coffin–oops, punning–was the Amazon thing, although I had stopped reading way before that, after she pulled two (?) extra vampires out of her be-hind.

I guess my point is that I have reasons. I do–for almost everything.

So what does this tell you? Anne Rice is one of those authors that makes me cringe now, but she earned it. I’ve never even read Nicholas Sparks or Dan Brown, so why them? Because they’re popular.

Don’t get me wrong, Crusie’s made best-seller lists. She’s not an unknown. And, please understand me, I am NOT one of those people who only cares about the indie band, the unknown author, the TV show no one else is watching. I’ve been accused of that, but it’s not true. What I care about is stepping outside of the box once in a while and getting a better look at what’s out there.

Maybe the people who’ve named the authors that make me make THE FACE have read every other book in the library, and Sparks (or Rice or Brown or King–pick a name) is IT, The One, The Favorite. I totally accept that, I do.

However, I can’t help but think how I found my favorites–old and new. The book on Teffy’s shelf. The little candy hearts on the cover of Crusie’s Tell Me Lies (admittedly, not her best book) that made me think “I wonder what this is about?” The book my friend sent me because it reminded him of high school. The book that called to me.

Popularity helps. I never would’ve read Sloppy Firsts if not for its popularity. But then again, I may have read it sooner if not for the obscene amount of hype. Just saying.

So how do I wrap this up? Should I accept that I’m a big snob, and/or should I accept that not everyone is going to find what they love outside the best-seller list? Should I ask you to step outside your comfort zone? Are these fair things? Are they right?

Food for thought, I suppose.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2010 7:24 pm

    I am a HUGE book snob. (Though my favorite author is Stephen King, go figure.) I actually have read a couple Dan Brown books, and I don’t see anything special about them. And after seeing A Walk to Remember, I have absolutely no interest in reading a Nicholas Sparks book.
    I totally know THE FACE. I just don’t make THE FACE about Stephen King. (I do make THE FACE about Dean Koontz though.)

    I also understand about a book’s hype making me hesitant to read it. As soon as I start hearing a lot of buzz about a book, my interest in it plummets. I don’t know why and I hate being that person, but I can’t help it. I’m not that way with bands or TV shows or movies; just books.

    • July 9, 2010 9:09 am

      I hate when people say “Don’t judge” because it’s in our natures to judge everything: books, movies, music, food, relationships…I’m trying to get better at dealing with the line between where “judgment” means being a jerk, and where “judgment” means “opinion.”

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