What Do You Do When the Book Doesn’t Live Up to its Hype?

We’re in the final two months of the To Be Read Pile Challenge, a year long contest where many of us are trying to read through 12 months of books that have been lingering on our bookshelves too long.  Over the course of this year, I’ve already acquired the titles for 2013’s list!  Haven’t you? 

The rules of the contest allow us to have two alternatives, in case one of the titles doesn’t keep our interest, we can can “opt out” so to speak and pick a different book.  Here’s my list for 2012.

My TBR Pile Challenge Books: 

  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  2. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
  3. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
  4. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  5. Blessings by Anna Quindlen
  6. The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  7. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
  8. The Lace Reader by Bromonia Barry
  9. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
  10. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
  11. The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund
  12. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters, Jane Austen

Recently, I finished reading Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  Little Bee is a book with a 3.63 rating out of 5 on Goodreads.  And yet this book received so much praise upon its release!  So many of my friends have read it and loved it!  I was left feeling a little underwhelmed.  Here’s the review I left on Goodreads:

Little Bee is an exceptionally well written book with great characters. I bought this book while on vacation after the sales clerk told me she couldn’t tell me what the book was about; I was just supposed to read it.

She said it all very excited. You read the book. You love it. And you tell your friends to read it. But…you tell them nothing of the story.

It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I think I get why this book is being marketed as such. To discuss the story, would dilute the story. The magic of this book is that it forces you to think about a wealth of issues that you weren’t expecting it to. And a really good reader will place themselves in the book either as a character or right alongside them. And so I asked myself, what would I do in this situation…?

I can’t say anything bad about the book, it is a good one. And yet, I don’t know if I’m haunted by the story or left wanting to know more. And that’s the sign of a good book isn’t it? I enjoyed Little Bee. I’m glad I read it. It didn’t make me as excited as that sales clerk though. *shrug*

I kept reading the reviews from everyone, and there were a lot of interesting theories.  Some believed the book was outstanding, and that the detriment to its rank came from the over-abundance of praise, spoiling the book for its readers and not letting its worth stand on its own.  I also learned that there had been a title change from the European release to its American one!

Which title grabs your attention more:  Little Bee or The Other Hand?

I did finish reading Little Bee, and I liked it.  But it’s not going on my “Titles of the Year” list.  And after completing Little Bee, I’m down to just one more title on my TBR Pile.  It’s looming there…

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.  I began reading this one in the summer, was loving it immensely, and it sort of fizzled halfway through.

So, fellow readers, my dilemna:

Should I finish reading Geek Love and hope it picks back up?  Or, do I move on to one of my alternative titles?  

What do you do when a book doesn’t live up to its hype?

Oooh, and please suggest a title for my 2013 TBR Pile Challenge!  If you leave one for me, I’ll give you one back!  The only rule is it has to be at least a year old, so  published in 2011 or before.  Thanks, readers!

12 responses

  1. I read Loving Frank. Interesting perspective. I really admire Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, but I knew his life was not exactly a pattern for modern living. I liked him less after the read.

    I’ve read all of Jody Hedlund’s books in order. It’s been fun to follow her progression as a writer reading her books along with her blog.

    Blessings was a masterpiece. Jane Austen is always good. You’ve got some other goodies in there, too.

    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Varghese is my current read. Love the writing, but the story is difficult. Also finished a fun read by one of my critique group buddies, Helen Hanson. Dark Pool is a who done it, which is not one of my primary genres to read, but I enjoyed it because it transcended the usual detective stuff.

    1. Ooh I think we share bookshelves. I really liked Loving Frank and Blessings. And of course Jody is a sweetheart.

      Cutting for Stone is the January book my book club is reading.

      Have you read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand or Night Fall by Nelson Demille? Those were two of my faves this year.

      1. I’ll have to add them to my reading list.

  2. Omigosh! I DIED for LITTLE BEE. I thought it was one of the most complicated plots I’ve ever read. I want to read it again. And again.

    I’ll tell you one bookthat falls into the same category as LITTLE BEE did for you: GONE GIRL. There are currently 604 holds on it in the public library. So I bought it. And I just finished it last night. And I’ll tell you: it held me for a long way. I was loving it. But I HATED the ending. Omigosh! Absolutely ruined the book for me. I wanted to give the book back to the author and scream: “No! NO! NO! NO! You are backing away what needs to be done here. Just do it!”

    (I won’t spoil it — in case you haven’t read it, but if you haven’t — you could skip it and be fine. Seriously. Meh. 😛 )

    1. Lol. Renee I knew you’d be like “Whaaaat?!”

      Shoot! Gone Girl is on my list and I too bought it. I hope the ending isn’t that bad.

      You are a voracious reader so I probably am naming something you’ve already read. But, have you read Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer? Now that I know you’re a survivor lover… I loved this book.

      1. I read THIN AIR a long time ago. I loved it. I can’t wait to hear what you think about GONE GIRL!

  3. Sometimes I start skimming if I lose interest–it’s so hard to give up on a book. But I have. Mostly because there really is so much to read! 🙂

    1. Any good titles on your list now? Have you read Fabio’s new book, Wicked Sense?

  4. Our book club read LITTLE BEE. We all liked it, but we thought the writer wigged out on the ending. It was too pat somehow. Just our take.

    As for 2013, one book few people seemed to have read that our whole book enjoyed is BEL CANTO by Ann Patchett. It’s one of those hard-to-describe stories, but it’s a hostage situation with internationals. Or if you’ve never read it, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is another great read. Just a couple of ideas!

    1. Yah, the second one is already in my goodreads queue from two years ago after I read and reviewed Mockingbird. I’ll have to surface it a bit higher in the list now.

      So in turn, have you read Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine? It’s a great read for young adults, a really lovely story. It’s about a girl with Asperger’s who tries to deal with the death of her brother from a school shooting. It sounds like a difficult read, but I loved it and kept turning the pages. Heard about it because local schools were all doing a book discussion with the author about the issues in the book. You may find it interesting as a YA author!

      1. Thanks, Jess! Putting it on my TBR list!

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