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Booking Through Peer Pressure

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I was looking through books yesterday at the shops and saw all the Twilight books, which I know basically nothing about. What I do know is that I’m beginning to feel like I’m the *only* person who knows nothing about them.

Despite being almost broke and trying to save money, I almost bought the expensive book (Australian book prices are often completely nutty) just because I felt the need to be ‘up’ on what everyone else was reading.

Have you ever felt pressured to read something because ‘everyone else’ was reading it? Have you ever given in and read the book(s) in question or do you resist? If you are a reviewer, etc, do you feel it’s your duty to keep up on current trends?

I’m one rebellious child who always wants to be different. Ha! While book recommendation is gladly taken, I usually have my own agenda. Bestsellers are not high on my priority. I tend to steer away from books that are all over critics’ radar unless they are highly recommended by book bloggers. The most recent example in this category is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. That book is screaming at me on the feature display! Otherwise I walk right by the bestseller table at the bookstores without even a glance. The last popular book that I read was Da Vinci Code, which was a prerequisite to the film. I wasn’t talked into reading it; in fact, the more people urge me, the less a book appeals to me. Maybe this is why I have on so many occasions put The Kite Runner back down at the bookstore.

As to the question of reviewing, I have often debated if I should keep up-to-date with new books and upcoming releases. While I bear no resentment towards contemporary fiction and living authors, I do favor classics and literature written in the past two centuries. A recent bout of shelf-reading (making sure the books are in alphabetical order of authors’ last names) yields the surprising revelation that books written by non-living authors have far outnumbered those by the living counterparts. Penguin Classics and Modern Library titles account for half of my collection of translated literature is the major subgenre. I usually stick with more serious literature, of which the prose requires raptness and concentration, with occasional punctuation of something lighter and humorous. The blessing of the book blogging community is that each book blogger fulfills a specific niche so I can review what I like to read.

32 Responses

  1. I simply want to read for enjoyment, and I do just that.

  2. I can get talked into reading a popular book but I have to have some sort of interest in it to begin with otherwise I won’t pick it up.

  3. I agree, that if book bloggers recommend it, I’m much more likely to pick it up. And the Potato Peel Pie Society…ho man, does that sound great! Probably not one I’d pick up without a recommendation, but I’ve heard so many good things I’m practically frothing at the mouth. 😀

  4. I absolutely favor the classics and literary fiction too, and sometimes find myself getting bored with the same-old-new-thing-everyone-is-reading. Sometimes it’s fun to be part of what feels like one big book club- sometimes it gets to be a chore. I’ve been trying hard to balance the “me” books with the “blog” books- not always easy. 🙂 Sometimes the “blog” books end up being “me” books. That’s when I love blogging. 🙂

  5. I’m kind of a retro reader – for instance, I just recently read The Kite Runner (and loved it!) earlier this year. I thought I was the last person in the world to have read it. But I certainly don’t base my reading choices on top sellers lists. Still haven’t read Twilight or Harry Potter and don’t have any desire to. I sometimes choose a book, thats been out for several years and it keeps grabbing my attention, well after the hype. But I stay away from mainstream authors who pump out a book every 2 minutes. Those just don’t appeal to me.

  6. Those who know me know that the absolute worst way to get me to do ANYTHING is by saying, “You HAVE to_________!” Once I hear that, I’m bound and determined to do the exact opposite. Lord, I must be “fun” to be around sometimes! LOL

  7. I think I have a good balance between contemporary and classics.

  8. The Friday Night Knitting Club was…okay. Parts were great, others were so-so. The friendship depicted amongst the characters was very sweet and realistic which was nice. I thought this was supposed to be made into a movie but haven’t heard anything about it in awhile.

  9. I like to keep up with what’s being published and what’s selling well – but only because I’ve always been interested in the book trade. I don’t usually feel any compulsion to read a book just because it’s “hot.” Although these days, if one of the book bloggers I trust says a book is worth reading, I do sort of feel I should give it a look.

  10. I’m definitely curious of the books which have received all the hypes, but if they don’t live up to my expectations, I won’t read them either!

  11. I’m a lover of classics as well.

  12. Matt, you got to keep with what you love and I for one appreciate that about your blog. I love the classics but don’t read them that much on my own. I know that you will eventually rub off on me. I need a good literature professor in my life. 😉

    I haven’t participated in Booking Through Thursday in a while, but I really wanted to today, but I’m hosting a book tour today so I couldn’t. I’m getting Harry Potter pressure from all over place. I own the books, but I feel very rebellious about it. I don’t typically read fantasy in the first place. I don’t know…

  13. I read your reviews, because your tastes are similar to mine.

    I hate drek.

    I never keep up with the latest. I have no idea what’s on the bestseller.

    I do try to keep up with what other bloggers are reading, so I do keep up on that sense.

  14. I tend to read a lot of books off the beaten track, but if a book blogger I respect recommends something I am very apt to pick up a book I wouldn’t otherwise and at least check it out.

  15. Sally:
    I find it very entertaining to plunge into the world of some of these characters. 🙂

  16. Iliana:
    I’m with you. The book has to appeal to me first or I won’t be able to even open it. 🙂

  17. Trish:
    Judging by the title, although interesting, the book is not something I’ll pick up. Now I take my list of books recommended by book bloggers to the bookstore and check them out, because their opinions are more impartial.

  18. Marie:
    Very well-put! The book bloggers introduce me to books that I otherwise won’t even pick up. I used to “run out” of things to read because I didn’t how to seek out these books, and there are only that many classics so I’ve got to read some “new” books. 🙂

  19. Lisa:
    I’m not a trend-setter in reading either. Unless the premise of a book really appeals to me, or the author is a favorite, I would not plunge right into the new. I rather wait and hear the feedback. I don’t have a problem falling behind after everyone has read it! 😉 Ah…authors who pump out books like there’s no tomorrow would be James Patterson and Anita Shreve…

  20. Cathy:
    Well then we can join the same club. I’m just not keen on massive appeal. 😉

  21. mari:
    I’m getting a good handle on the contemporary and classics, throwing in a gay-themed title here and there. I feel there is a need for reviews of the gay (non-erotica) titles.

    I realize I might have mixed up The Friday Knitting Club and The Knitting Circle! They’re within proximity of one another at the store too!

  22. jlshall:
    Bookmarks magazine helps me keep up with the latest. But I end up reading only a couple from the new batch.

  23. Melody:
    The latest one is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which is written in letter format. I wasn’t keen on it when it first came out. Then there is a whole maelstorm of reviews and rave, and book bloggers actually love it, so I guess I have to check it out! 🙂

  24. Chris:
    I never get tired of the classics, plus they’re usually cheaper! 🙂

  25. Literate Housewife:
    I’m happy to hear that you enjoy my reviews. When I first started blogging, my goal is to aware people (hopefully readers) that reading classics can be interesting and fun. I know we’ve all been there—being put off by boring classics or ones of daunting size. We can still learn a lot from these classics, Austen, Hardy, Dickens,…. 😉

  26. Isabel:
    Keeping up with what bloggers are reading is enough to fill my TBR list. Every once in a while a book out of the bestseller chart might deserve a bit more attention. It just works out perfectly that I don’t feel missed out not reading what is “hot.”

  27. Danielle:
    I enjoy reading your reviews and keeping up with your list because we share similar tastes. 🙂

  28. Since I own a bookstore, in addition to a full-time job, I have to schedule time each day to read–plus find time to write, too. I don’t often read books that I want to read, but instead read the book club selections, and the books of writers who visit our store for author events. However, I do plan to read The Historian this fall for myself.

    I knew nothing about the Twilight series until shortly before the fourth book, Breaking Dawn came out. They’re very popular with white women in their 20s and 30s. I’ve wondered about reading them, but I have to be selective due to my limited amount of time.

    I wouldn’t have read The Kiterunner if my book club had not selected it. Voting on our favorite books for our first year, it came in number two (just under gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson). I had no interest in reading a story about two boys in Afghanistan, but it’s actually a moving tale about friendship and forgiveness that knows no borders. Sometimes good books due live up to the hype. However, my book club and I found The Yiddish Policemen’s Union to be tedious and not worth the hype.

    I do find that reading books outside the usually genres I would read has introduced me to new authors I wouldn’t have encountered. Good writing is good writing, no matter what the genre.

    And after reading the book you recommended, Reading Like a Writer, it’s made me aware of how many ways writers can write. I enjoy observing the various styles and voices.

    And finally, being able to meet writers has given me the opportunity to read good books I might have missed otherwise. I just finished The Flawless Skin of Ugly People, which is unlike anything I’ve read before.

  29. Jef:
    I’m glad you enjoyed Reading Like A Writer, which is now sitting on my handy-reference shelf. I find myself pulling it off the shelf quite often. The Kite Runner is quite a literary phenomenon. It was translated into so many languages and topped the HK chart for almost 30 weeks. I should succumb to the hype. 😉

  30. Ditto to Literate Housewife’s comment. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing Matt. I love your taste in reading, a very healthy mix of classics, contemporary, literary and ethnic selections.

  31. John:
    Thank you so much. You’re so kind! 😉

  32. […] this post I claimed to be one rebellious child who always wants to be different. Wide-spread reading […]

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