Monday, April 27, 2009

Can a Book be a Deal Breaker?

(Ed. note: I haven't actually read the book pictured left, but the illustration was just too perfect to pass up.)

Has anyone else ever run into a situation in which a book served to underline the fundamental differences between two people? I had this happen this weekend, when a guy was attempting to politely make small talk by telling me that he enjoyed reading (he knew I was a lit nerd), but that we probably didn't read the same types of things as he preferred science fiction and fantasy.

I assured him that I had read quite a bit of fantasy and asked him what he liked. His answer: "Well, I like... Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan, stuff like that."

I cautiously asked, "The Terry Goodkind who wrote Wizard's First Rule?" When he replied in the affirmative, I knew that I had found a deal breaker. (For those of you who haven't read Wizard's First Rule, here's my take on it. The best one-word summation of my feelings about Terry Goodkind's writing is "blech.")

I don't think that most people realize how much they reveal when they name their favorite writers or books, especially a book that is polarizing as Wizard's First Rule, featuring as it does a BDSM relationship and multiple torture scenes. I'm very concious of the fact that others will pass judgment on me based on what I report as my favorite books, because that is exactly what I do.

In fact, here are a list of my "deal breaker" books, by which I mean those which make me think less of a person if listed as a favorite:

1) Wizard's First Rule, by Terry Goodkind (see above)
2) Anything by Ayn Rand (if the reader agrees with her rather than views her with a sort of horrified fascination the way I do)
3) The Harry Potter Series (while these are enjoyable, they are not "favorites" worthy)
4) Anything by Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, or any other conservative pundit (for obvious reasons)

Does anyone else have a list like this, or am I just a bitch?


Homero said...


OK, OK, OK, not really (well, maybe a little) it's more like snob, but that's ok, because we're all snobby.

I have a friend who loves Harry Potter, I mean, LOVES Harry Potter. She's highly intelligent, articulate, and a book and movie snob, but will defend that series to the death. Now, I don't think less of her at all. I've read the first one, and was surprised by it. It's not at all something I like, but I could see why fans were upset by the movie version, because it hardly did the book justice. It's ultimately entertainment for most people, which is why I turn my snob feature down.

It's the same reason why I'm not judgey when people say they like "Law and Order." Now, when they say it's the best thing on TV... well, we need to have a talk.

Going down the rest of your list... pretty much anything written by any idealouge, from Obama to Coutler to Moore to O'Riely, it's almost always trite, over simplified political doublespeak and broad generalizations.

Ready to turn the snob feature way up? I'm a sucker for Dean Koontz novels. Oooo yeah...

Anyway, it's good to see you back on here. Maybe you should consider a guest writer from time to time... :P

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

I think the problem is a differing view of the word "favorite." When I ask someone what his/her favorite book is, I want to know what book has impacted his/her life/the universe/everything rather than what book they want to curl up with when it's raining out. I don't have a problem with someone reading and enjoying fluffy books, but if he then refer to those books as his favorites, it makes me wonder if he hasn't read anything that actually changed his life.

For example, it doesn't bother me that you read Dean Koontz, but I'm fairly sure that if I asked you what your favorite book is (according to the limits laid out above), you wouldn't say he was your favorite author.

I will, however, admit to a certain amount of snobbishness and ask if anyone knows of a twelve-step group for former arrogant academics. I may need help.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

By the way, thanks for volunteering to be a guest writer. I'll expect your draft to be in my in-box by tomorrow morning.

Homero said...

Yeah, I think it's a matter of terminology that we're splitting hairs over. I think the terms that we're looking for is 'influential' or 'greast personal impact'?

I'll have draft to you soon.

nishitak said...

Just happened to stumble across your blog. Really nice one, btw, by which I mean I agree with most of your book reviews :)

Just curious, what would be your favorite books?

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

Thanks, nishitak! My favorite books change depending on my mood and what I've read most recently, but my current favorite book is probably The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy and The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles.

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