Popular books: the ones everyone seems to be reading.
Obscure books: the lesser known books that not everyone is reading.
I have a small confession to make: whenever it seems like everyone is reading a particular book or series, I run far, far, far away from it.
I just can’t bring myself to read the popular, hyped up books that everyone says is a must read. I’m sure they’re good and it’s possible I might find them interesting, but I dislike being told what to do.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not have a problem with authority. I am strictly law-abiding and you’d be hard pressed to find anything in my record. But, when it comes to taste, I hate being told “You’ll love this!”
Uh, excuse me, how do you know that?
Many people have told me I’ll love this or that or because I love this, then I’ll absolutely love that. Which are common phrases in book reviews. But I tend to have a somewhat bizarre palate when it comes to books. I lack any real author loyalty. Just because I enjoyed one book does not mean I’ll enjoy another from the same book. If I’m told I’ll enjoy a book because I loved another book, I often laugh because I don’t even need one hand to count how many times that has happened. I look at books in isolation. I take a single story and determine whether I’ll enjoy it on its own merits. Maybe it’s by an author I’ve read before, maybe it’s not. Maybe I’ll pick up a book from an author I’ve enjoyed before and found this book to be lacking and will put it back. If anything, I’m a fan of a good story, but I couldn’t possibly tell you what I think a good story is. If it tickles my brain enough, I’ll give it a try. So perhaps you should go and chat with my brain.
Over the years, the people who know me have learned to leave books up to me. They no longer recommend anything because I hardly ever enjoy it. Even the people who know me well (my mom, best friends, and husband) don’t recommend books because I’m, shall we say, particular.
But back to popular vs. obscure books.
When I was in high school, during my senior year, a book called I Am Charlotte Simmons was making it’s way around my class. We were preparing to graduate and head off to college, so Charlotte’s story was our imminent future. It passed from reader to reader and, one day, one of my best friends handed it to me. Now, I enjoyed the book, but didn’t love it. It felt like a good guide of what not to do in college and it’s safe to say I never read another book by Tom Wolfe.
Similarly, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb were wildly popular throughout my high school years, but I never touched either of them. I simply found the stories unappealing, yet everyone thought they were the best books in the world.
Instead, I read Robert Jordan and a multitude of fantasy authors that literally no one I knew had heard of. I devoured classic after classic and wandered into culinary mysteries. No one else was reading them, but I thought they were fantastic. And when I discovered self-published authors about 10 years ago, I became an avid reader of their books. I still enjoy them, to a point now where I even roll my eyes whenever the next “must read” book is announced.
Perhaps it’s because I enjoy marching to my own beat, or maybe it’s because I don’t like being told what to enjoy, or, more likely, it’s because I’ve never enjoyed the hyped up books.
I’m sure the must reads are great books, but they just don’t tickle my brain. Even though it seems contrary to what book bloggers in general read, I’ll stick to my obscure books, especially if they’re self-published and no one seems to know their name. One of my favorite books is obscure, Scriber by Ben S. Dobson. And I’ve yet to read another book by Mr. Dobson.
What about you? Do you enjoy the hyped up books everyone seems to be reading and raving about or do you prefer the books no one is talking about?