Reading Lists and Side-effects

I probably shouldn't be doing this. I’m not too good with spontaneous posting. But it’s Monday and it’s pretty quiet around here, so why not? Lest you’re thinking I have no specific topic in mind, be assured: I’m thinking about books.

It’s an odd side-effect of blogging and reading other people’s blogs, but my reading list gets longer every time I read another post. And it’s now reaching a point where I think it may take me years to catch up on everything. Okay, not may – absolutely will. I finish one book, cross it off the list, and then three new ones take its place. I wish I could read several books at once – like having a rotating playlist, but it doesn’t work. The books seem to combine into an incoherent mega-book which I end up not being able to remember very well.

Another side-effect of this book recommendation business is that I’ve stopped reading the blurb on the backs of books. Actually, I’ve already been avoiding it for sometime, since they either reveal something that was better left unsaid (this is especially prevalent with classic books, like it doesn’t matter if you spoil them) or they say something that doesn’t really describe the book at all – just flowery superlatives. But I finally stopped once and for all after getting used to reading recommendations online.

Although what can you expect? The publisher’s not going to write, “Yeah, so this book, right? It’s quite good. The writer describes things very well, but it’s a little weak on plot. And it’s depressing too, so we wouldn’t recommend reading this if you’ve had a bad day.” Of course they’re going to write, “A brilliant new story depicting the turmoil and triumph of daily life, written in stark prose that transcends to a level of poetry at its most poignant moments.”

Or how about a nice paranoid blurb like this one: “We’re not so sure you should read this book. Yeah, you know what? Please don’t. We think one of your friends would like it, but not you. Probably. We don’t know you that well and all, but given what we usually see you buy… No, of course we don’t see you. How could we see you? We’re not watching you through the store cameras or something like that.”

Or a self-deprecating blurb: “It’s no big deal, really. You could read this, but we wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. You probably have better things to read. No hard feelings. I’ll still be here if you change your mind. Unless someone buys me. Not that someone definitely will, but possibly. You know, it could happen.” Alright, that was a bit passive-aggressive as well.

Fortunately, I never have to worry about this since I’m probably never going to write a book. If I did, I’d want the blurb to read, “The writer is pretty surprised to have written a book in the first place, so she won’t take it amiss if you don’t read it. Really. Have you read any good classics lately? Well don’t read the blurb on the back. They’ll probably spoil it.”

And I’m off. My reading list beckons…

7 comments:

Mike French said...

I'm glad you did post this Stella - brilliant and funny!

I was just thinking it might be a slow week here as Kathleen is off for 2 weeks and up you pop with an extra article!

Nice one.

Stella said...

Ohhh.

I was wondering why tumbleweed was rolling along...

Brigid said...

Hahaha. Good point. The blurbs on the back are rather pointless. Then again, I tend to read *everything* so I still haven't beaten the habit of reading those things.

Paul Burman said...

Strangely, perverse as I am, I'd be more inclined to pick up a book and want to like it if the blurb told me I shouldn't and wouldn't. That strategy would work until it became an over-used marketing ploy, and then I'd need something even stronger to react against or would revert instead to the sugary superlatives that adorn current blurbs.

Stella said...

Paul, did you by any chance change your name from Mary (of the Quite Contrary family)?

That must make you related to Brigid. :))

Paul Burman said...

I was going to, Stella, but then I changed my mind.

Brigid said...

hahaha

I must admit that I'm somewhat more inclined to want to see a movie if it gets bad reviews. Mostly because movies I already like I'd later find got bad reviews.