So, last week I found a piece on Slate about books that people read because they were highly recommended by a teacher or a loved one or a friend and which were found to be incredibly disappointing. This made me think word of mouth is traditionally a very good way of getting people to read, but how many times do books that come highly touted disappoint us?
I, for one, have been disappointed by some huge bestsellers in recent years. Maybe it was the hype, which is usually over the top, and maybe it was actually the book itself. I remember being away on a Christmas vacation when it seemed that everyone in the resort I was staying at was reading The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. And so was I. The book was discussed and discussed some more by perfect strangers; most loved it, but I remember thinking when I came to the end, “why did I bother?” It was so incredibly depressing. To me this was a big disappointment.
Then there was The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Initially, I really liked the premise, but the book didn’t know when to stop; ultimately, despite its huge advance and huge success, I simply didn’t “get it.”
And, finally, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann which every single one of our staff absolutely loved. I tried; I really, really did. And I understand what McCann was doing. But in the end, it just didn’t resonate and I think, as a result, I was more disappointed with myself than I was with the novel.
So I wonder, what recent bestsellers have you been disappointed in? And what about those classics that we all had to read as kids—did any of those knock your socks off?