Is this book better than sex?
I often wonder how bad books can generate so much buzz and positive reviews. It almost seems as if the disenfranchised of the world got suckered into a lame read one time too many and created a conspiracy to crow about the merits of intellectual garbage while most of the truly great work of our time sleeps undisturbed as a means of passing on the whammy. After a time, it becomes accepted that the more eyeball bleeding and brain hemorrhaging it induces, the more it must be proselytized as the next great thing.
This bad buzz can be found everywhere: commercials, dust jackets overflowing with sparkling reviews from the otherwise admirable, bookstore displays, internet sights, pop culture references. Anthony Bourdain did this, touting this cooking memoir as the greatest thing since sliced bread when it was actually a disjointed stinker, thus breaking my fan-girl heart as I recalled all of the fondness I had amassed for him watching him on television. Worst of all, these books can be proscribed by friends and family, who have also heard about the book. Maybe they’ve read it, maybe not. Either way, they have good things to say. During the few times I have elected not to control my penchant for negative gossip-mongering, I find myself chided for my unkindness. If the friend in question has not read the book, she inevitably knows someone who has who really enjoyed it…even if that person would rather keep this information a secret.
Such has been the case with Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon. I know of someone who bashes the series publicly, especially when it comes to her mother. Her mother would not forbid her to read it, as these are grown women who do not even share the same roof. Rather, she thinks her daughter to intelligent for the drivel. The daughter, meanwhile, insists that the series is quite good and continues to work her way through it. I have also heard of an upstanding elderly man who enjoys bodice-rippers as a means of making up for his lack of physical capability for such actions by settling for temporal seductions. He was apparently somewhat ashamed to admit that he loved this title as well because he is afraid of what people may think of him. My own husband has been reading the first book now and again. This is the man I married for his massive brain and nerdy physique. Perhaps a bit ridiculous is the fact that I was upset he would pay full price for his copy, as I was convinced he would hate it and that it must surely be beneath him on some rudimentary level. He says the writing is not too disappointing, and he has even learned a few words from the small amount he has covered thus far. I may eventually sneak a peek at his copy, but I doubt I will be converted. In all actuality, I will probably never even look beyond the back cover because there are so many other books I can’t wait to devour.
I suppose bad is in the eye of the reviewer. I cast my own stones and laurels regularly on the Goodreads.com website, where I give my honest opinions without worry of how they may be perceived by others. I may very well tell how a story has changed my life, but I do not promise it will change the lives of others, as that is a very risky guarantee. If someone has something to say about my review, I welcome any academic-flavored discourse this may generate. After submitting my review, I look at what others have said, hitting “like” on posts I agree with. Perhaps I comment now and then about my own experience with a text that the review stirs up within me. If the reviewer is worlds apart opinion-wise, I see what he or she has to say and move on. Once I have read the text, it lives inside me, good or bad. I only wish others were more forthcoming with the natures of their literary occupants.