Thursday, October 07, 2010

Kickin' and Screamin"

Book groups. As I've said before I am loathe to read books assigned to me, and yet I love the women in my book group, so I do it. Lots of didactic literature. Nickeled and Dimed, Reading Lolita in Tehran, Persepolis. Important books but kind of predictable. Depressing. They are not book books, if you know what I mean.

This month is THE HELP, which struck me as a book written exclusively for Oprah and book groups. Seventy weeks on the best seller list and counting.

I like it. Shiver me timbers.

What was the last book you didn't expect to like but did? What book did you read out of duty or because a friend or spouse pushed it on you and ended up liking?


Ron Scheer said...

Not a book, but a TV series based on books: THE NO. 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY. Totally disappointed that it didn't have another season.

Anonymous said...

I think George read THE HELP because Diane's book club loved it. Everyone we know who read it loved it.

Haven't read it, of course.

Jackie was once in a book club but it wasn't her taste - everything was Isabel Allende and the like (not that there's anything wrong with that).

I agree with Ron, by the way. I was surprised and disappointed that they didn't do a second series, but it might be due to the death of Anthony Minghella.

Jeff M.

YA Sleuth said...

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO; I expected it to be a Dan Brown-type book. Once a book is for sale in paperback at Wal-Mart, I immediately hate it. Which is unfair on my part, and I learned my lesson, because that book was good. Someone mentioned a character in it, so I felt I had to read it.

It's nice to be pleasantly surprised by a book.

George said...

I read THE HELP because my son, my daughter, my wife, and my wife's book club all read the book and loved it. I was surprised by the level of racism for the time period (1960s).

Kieran Shea said...

Tim Winton's BREATH. As a water-nut, I'm wary of "surf" novels as they tend to roll out stereotypes and archetypal heroes, plus they typically get all mystical about a sport that really isn't. Big fan of Winton, across the board.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm the same way. I'm so spontaneous in what I read, fictionwise, that I hate to be constrained. But I like to be around readers and talk books for sure.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I was also shocked at the racism. It was something you thought as existing thirty years earlier. It made me very uneasy but the writing was good enough, the story compelling enough to carry me through the queasiness.
I read an earlier book by Winton, I think. Really good.
The nice thing about these women is how earnest they are in trying to take the group serious. Of course, they were all teachers or nurses.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I liked THE GIRL very much but now I have grown a bit tired of seeing people reading it everywhere all the time. There are other books just as good, but this one has stolen their hearts and minds. Like Harry Potter with kids.

Yvette said...

I was not especially fond of THE HELP. I only read it because a friend sent me the book and she raved about it. I thought I'd like it more than I did. I mean, it was okay, just not wonderful - at least for me. But then I am not a big fan of 'book club' books, Oprah books and the like. I know exactly what you mean by 'they aren't book books.'

I didn't like the Stieg Larsson books either. Obviously there is something very wrong with me. Ha!

Richard R. said...

I don't often - maybe never - pick up or start a book I don't expect to like, why would I? More often it's the other way round, I expect, or at least hope, to like a book and am disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Yvette, you're not alone. One of my top rules in choosing a book is:

If Oprah picks it for her book club, don't read it.

If I want to be that depressed I'll turn on the national news.

Jeff M.

Linda McLaughlin said...

For me it was The Hunger Games. I don't usually read YA but a friend kept insisting I get. So I downloaded a sample for my Kindle, and when I got to the end, I went right to Amazon and bought it so I could keep reading. Amazing trilogy.

FWIW I liked Persepolis. Even though it was often depressing, I liked Marjane's feisty spirit.

Travis Erwin said...

The Life of Pi.

pattinase (abbott) said...

THE LIFE OF PI was pretty amazing. My mother read it and it knocked her out.
I don't mind being depressed by a book because I read it at arm's length. It is real life that sickens me.
I have heard about THE HUNGER GAMES. Must try it.
I read the first Larsson book and although I liked it enough, that was the end of it.

Cap'n Bob said...

Babbit. Assigned reading in college but I loved it.

Deb said...

I've been invited to join book clubs, but so far have stayed away. There are so many things in life I have to do, I like my reading to be one of those things that I do happily and voluntarily and not because there's a book club deadline waiting for me.

As for being surprised by the racism in THE HELP, when I was first going to an integrated school in Georgia in 1970, a white teacher used the n-word with complete impunity when referring to a group of nearby black students.

I know I made this comment before, but THE HELP reminds me of the movie "Mississippi Burning"--very self-congratulatory about the role whites played in helping black people during the Civil Rights era. I don't think that sort of approach is my cup of tea.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I haven't finished it yet but I hope I don't come away thinking that. That would really spoil it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I loved Babbit, too, and it really has last as far as seeing people as Babbits.

Yvette said...

Speakiing of Sinclair Lewis, I read DODSWORTH last year for the first time and LOVED it. Possibly helped along by my love of the film with Mary Astor in one of her few sympathetic roles.

Jeff,I would hasten to add that I have nothing against Oprah herself, she's gotten people reading again - how could I quibble with that? But it's her taste in books I find fault with.
It is so predictable and, usually, depressing.
And that's okay, there are more than enough books to go around, I think. ;)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I enjoyed every Lewis book I read and I read most of them. I am glad they hold up because I read them thirty years ago! I agree with you about Oprah-couldn't she for once pick a book by an unknown writer that was not uplifting. Millions of people would have read Franzen anyway.