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Book-Talk Monday: Is it the book, or is it just me that’s so meh?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The two books that I just finished over the weekend have me thinking about similarities in the books we choose to read, whether it be actual similarities in the stories or similarities in the way that we as readers and react to them because of our own emotional or physical states. For example: I just finished reading two historical romance novels by two different authors published by two different publishers a few years apart. One had a medieval setting; the other had a mid-18th century setting. One had a hero who could only find love for the heroine by controlling her; the other had a hero who felt no qualms about seducing his brother’s fiancée. (Obviously, I’m using the term “hero” a bit loosely here—really, there wasn’t much heroic about these two male protagonists.) The medieval was written by an author who was new to me; the other is the second book in a series I have been looking forward to reading because I enjoyed the first book so much.

But I had the same issues with both books. The heroines were too perfect to be likable (even after sleeping with her fiancé’s brother, “Lady Perfect,” as the hero called her, seemingly remained guiltless and above reproach—and of course everything worked out perfectly for her with few to no consequences) and the heroes both had issues and did things that made them distasteful. I never felt any chemistry between the two couples except for the kind of chemistry that usually indicates these people should stay as far away from each other as possible.

This made me wonder—did I have the same reaction to both of these books because of my current mental and physical state; or, had I read these books separately at different times when I was in a better mood or not quite so exhausted, would I have liked these books better?

Now, I could go through and reread these books as a critical reading, really break them down and figure out what makes them tick and why I reacted to them the way I did. However, I’m really not that interested. And besides, one was a library book which I’ve already returned, and the other was an audiobook. So it’s not like I can do any underlining or highlighting or sticking Post-it Notes on them. I picked up both of these books because they were highly recommended and/or had high-rated reviews on romance review blogs that I trust.

This does not mean I won’t read the next book in the one series, or that I won’t read anything else by this new to me author. The writing in itself was good. It was the characters, the situations, and the storylines that I didn’t connect with. I have to give each author at least one more shot before I decide to give up on them.

What’s the point of this blog post? have no idea. This was what I happened to be thinking about in the car yesterday driving home from Arkansas.

  1. Monday, October 15, 2012 4:54 am

    I understand what you are saying I had to stop reading a book when mum died because the subject was to depressing, I tried reading it while mum was so sick and found it wasn’t moving just not the book to read at the time. I really dont want to finish. I have found at times books seem to be the same. Like I will read a LI book then one from another publisher and they seem to have a similar story line. I had it with orphan or street kids for a while then it was a child the hero didn’t know was his. Thankfully not to many heros or heroines I didn’t like recently (but then not reading to much right now). I do find I am so tired and I need to read novella’s or LI lines as they are easy to digest when I am tired.
    (I know i’m rambling as I am so tired)


  2. Leslie permalink
    Monday, October 15, 2012 10:14 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you read them again that you would like them more but they really do seem rather “meh” to me.


  3. Joanna McKenna permalink
    Monday, October 15, 2012 12:40 pm

    There’s probably nothing wrong with the two books. Books are like food. Sometimes, out of habit, you tuck into a bowl of macaroni and cheese when your body is really craving spicy Mexican, and after a couple of bites, you realize this normally comforting dish isn’t so comforting after all. When I’ve read the same type of books for any length of time and they begin “tasting” bleh, I know it’s time to switch to an entirely different type of book for awhile. Great topic, btw!


  4. Monday, October 15, 2012 1:29 pm

    Mood/mental state definitely affect the reading experience. Can alter it greatly, in fact. When I sense that my head in not in the right space for a particular book, maybe even one I looked forward to reading, which is otherwise well-written, I put it down and come back later. If on a second try, it still doesn’t work for me, I accept this.

    But I’ve come back to books and utterly enjoyed them, when the first attempt was horrific.


  5. Monday, October 15, 2012 9:07 pm

    I agree with Patricia, yet sometimes books aren’t worth trying again. Since you aren’t opposed to the authors, it might be a little of both (you are pretty stressed and tired right now…)
    I read a series of books by an author a couple of years ago. Most hit me at about 3 stars, but were well-written enough to get me to finish them all. Something about the last one knocked my socks off, and I gave it an enthusiastic 5.

    BTW, correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t there have been serious consequences for the heroine for her “indiscretion” in either of those two time periods? (social outcast and/or forced marriages leading to underlying resentments, etc)


  6. Monday, October 15, 2012 10:43 pm

    I don’t like controlling men, I don’t like infidelity and perfect heroines are boring… so I’d probably agree with you that both these books are ‘meh’ at best. On any day.

    I’ve been really busy over the last couple of weeks, which has meant that instead of finishing a book in an evening or two, it’s been taking me a week or more. As with you, I’m questioning whether this is me… or the books. Surely if the books were great, I’d be dropping everything to read them, not surfing the blogosphere.



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