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)