We all know them: the uber-popular books that seem to take the book world by storm for six months or a year, or sometimes longer. They’re compelling and controversial; they win book awards, fly off the shelves and come with a long and frustrating wait at the library. They’re a favorite topic to bring up at work, at the dinner table with your family and with friends over cocktails. But lately I’ve realized these hyped-up books just sometimes aren’t all they promise to be.
I’ve read many of them over the years: The Help; Fifty Shades of Grey; A Casual Vacancy; A Visit from the Goon Squad; Little Bee; Eat, Pray, Love, just to name a few. They’re talked about incessantly, their authors are interviewed on television, they’re optioned for movies, and the world is expected to believe they’re the next masterpiece coming out of the world of publishing. Maybe it’s because of all this hype that my expectations are heightened. I’m lead to believe that I won’t be able to put the book down, that it will change my life, inspire me to write a novel or look at the world in a different way. And while many of these hyped-up books are pretty good, I found some to be just plain lame and disappointing.
So that leaves me wondering, do I have an unrealistic sense of how amazing these books will be, or am I just more critical of a compelling storyline and good writing? What’s wrong with me that I hated that Pulitzer Prize winning book? How come I couldn’t get through the first 100 pages of the “fastest-selling book of all time”?
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of those hyped books that I really am an evangelist for – Harry Potter, The Hunger Games – and many others that I think are actually pretty good and worthy of the accolades. But I’m finding more and more that these so-called “amazing” books end up in the “why did I bother?” pile.
With all this being said, I’m saddened for the fantastic books I’ve read that haven’t gotten the star treatment they deserve. I’m excited to have found these literary gems and wish the world would love them as much as I do. I wish their authors would get recognition for writing real books with real characters and not just literary drivel to get attention and make a few (million) bucks.
These books deserve “sweeping the nation” kind of attention: