Book group this week has really got me thinking. You see when I started the latest choice ‘Water For Elephants’ my expectations for the novel were rather low, and so when I had finished it and really enjoyed it I was left pleasantly surprised. It showed me once again that you can’t simply judge a book by its blurb or latest cover, or rather than judging you simply can’t make assumptions or presumptions. I always get presumptions and assumptions mixed up which is slightly annoying as bookish presumptions and assumptions are what today’s post/ramble of mine is all about.
It interested me that out of the rest of the book group the people who knew nothing of it, bought it off the internet and started reading it pronto simply because it was the book group choice got a lot more out of it than those who had read the blurb, got quite excited about the premise and then read on. In fact people who had got really excited about it prior the meeting seemed to think they had been let down in some way. This could of course simply be sod’s law, or the fact that the book just wasn’t quite for them, but it brought up the question yet again of book hype and how it can affect a read for you.
I brought up the fact that I had personally bought the book ages ago because there was a whirl of hype about it on its release in the US, I had then promptly not read it. I myself am prone to getting swept up in the excitement when a book seems to explode in the media by the tag ‘New York Times Bestseller’ (or any other newspaper) and endless review or of course all over the blogosphere. I would find myself vicariously buying several books in one shopping swoop because I had heard lots of good reviews, and then go off the idea of all of them (probably swept up by another set of rave reviews of another book) and hence end up with the rather large TBR that I now have – I will get through it one day. Yet last year when I put myself on a book buying ban for 12 months I was amazed that the books I heard lots about and instantly wanted would then fade from my mind a few weeks later. I think only four or five are still on my ‘most wanted’ list. I haven’t been out and binge bought those either.
So that showed me up for my ability to be completely bowled over by media which thankfully I think one other book group member agreed would make them consider reading a book too. The other hype that interests me though is the one we do ourselves. It could be because the blurb simply sounds ‘so you’, the fact you have loved the author before, the quotes on the cover, the cover itself (and in this case most people had a cover they actually said made them think ‘Water For Elephants’ wasn’t for them because it looked rather chick-lit like, they aren’t a snobby bunch, and then were again pleasantly surprised), the fact the premise just really appeals, the list can go on and on. Its something I find interesting and so thought would ask you all about it.
How can we stop ourselves from falling for the hype in newspapers and our favourite blogs? Why is it that we hype certain books up so much in our own heads and if we do it extensively can a book ever really live up to the impression we have made of it without even turning a page? Do you think its something we are just programmed to do? Have there been books you’ve been desperate to read, then not bought and eventually not been bothered about? Which books have you hyped up yourself and then been disappointed by and which ones have you had the reverse experience with? Any other thoughts? Oh and who can tell me the difference between assumptions and presumptions?