Sunday, 29 April 2012

Discussion: Bad Book Experience...

I've discussed before how an author can end up on my instant read list if they wow me with an amazing book and how the personalities of authors can sometimes impact whether or not I'll read their books and how much I'll enjoy them...now I want to talk about how authors can sometimes end up on my Won't Read List if I have a bad experience with one of their books.

I didn't actually fully realise I did this until a few minutes ago when I saw a book on goodreads and the summary sounded interesting and the cover drew me in - and I was all set to put it on my Amazon wish list until I noticed one great big flaw: the author. 

It's nothing against the author personally, in fact she actually seems to be lovely from what I've seen of her twitter...but I read one of her books a while ago and I just hated it and I've been avoiding her other books ever since. 

I try not to go into books with expectations, but sometimes a book is so hyped up that it's impossible not to have them - and anytime I start a book, I want to love it, I want it to be good and when I have a bad experience with one book from an author, it makes me ridiculously reluctant to give any of their other books another chance.

I wasn't going to include examples of my - book avoidance, but it's difficult to explain without them. So to be clear, with the following examples: I'm usually in the minority in not liking the books mentioned and just because they didn't work for me, doesn't mean they won't for you, opinions being subjective and all that.

I'm in the very small minority of people, it seems, that didn't enjoy the book 13 Little Blue Envelopes - and I wanted to love it, because Maureen Johnson is so funny and lovely and her blog is great, but the book just didn't do it for me. And so I avoided her other books for years, even though at least two of them are ones I would have read if they had a different author name on the cover. I eventually caved with The Name of the Star and actually liked the book (enough to want to read the sequel, not enough to be totally won over and give her other books a chance quite yet).

I could not get into A Great and Terrible Beauty (and I am most definitely in the minority on that one it seems, because so many people seem to freaking adore that series) and Libba Bray is another one of those people who just seem so freaking awesome in videos and things posted online...but I haven't read any of her other books, even though two are ones I would usually have in my TBR pile by now.

I didn't like Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr and so Sweethearts remained on my shelf for years, unread and forgotten, even though it would just take a couple of hours to read it at most (sadly, I ended up just giving the book away because it felt wrong to keep it on my shelves when I'd probably never read it). I avoided books by Annette Curtis Klaus after loathing The Silver Kiss, but when I finally got over my reluctance to give her books another chance, I read and loved Blood & Chocolate.

There are plenty of other examples, but those ones are the ones that come to mind instantly because they're the ones where a big part of me actually wants to read some of their other books (or in Annette Curtis Klaus's case, I did and she won me over) but I just have a lot of trouble getting past the memory of reading the other books that put me off their books to begin with.

I think one of the problems is more that I can't tell if my problems with the book are down to the authors style of writing (the way they string words together, the way they execute plots and write characters) or if it's things that will be unique to that one book of theirs (like with The Silver Kiss - hated the plot, loathed the characters and was just bored in general but Blood and Chocolate had characters I loved, a great plot and kept me hooked from start to finish). And so I avoid the other books because I don't really like finding out when there's so many other books that I want to read that feel like less of a - risk.

I almost wish I could be blind to author names on covers because chances are, all the authors that I avoid because of one bad book experience probably have written a book that I will love (or at the very least, like and enjoy reading) - based on the summaries of some of their books, they all have at least one book that has a summary that appeals to me...and yet I'm probably missing out on their better books because it seems to take me years to get over a case of bad-book-induced-author-avoidance.

Questions:

1. Do any of you have this same problem? The whole not liking one book by an author has you avoiding the rest of their books thing?

2. Have you ever given an author on your unofficial list of avoided authors another chance and been pleasantly surprised? (Got any examples if you do?)

3. The examples I mentioned above - would you recommend any of their other books to me, even as someone who didn't enjoy some of the most-praised books by them?

7 comments:

  1. Wow, I have never thought about the subject this way. I guess it's a natural thing to do but it can be a mistake, like you've proven.
    Actually, I think I do something similar- of course, if I'd had a chance to read another book by the same author, I would do it. But some books may stay for long in my wishlist (or even not in my wishlist) because my previous experience wasn't that great. So I don't purposely reject these book but in the end, chances I'll not read them.
    Besides. I can recall mostly books I've disliked which were first in series, so it depends how much I really want to know what's going to happen.. and considering the fact some of these authors haven't written anything but the series- I didn't read other books of theirs.

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  2. I usually open to giving authors a second chance if I wasn't thrilled with a first book. Although, there is author I find myself avoiding-- Sarah Dessen. And, I feel like a dope saying that! How could I possibly want to avoid her? She seems like such a nice and genuine person, and I know her books touch on some pretty important subjects. But, she's also one of those well-loved, hyped up authors so I was expecting great things. I read Just Listen two years ago, and it just didn't deliver. I've been skeptical of her other work ever since. Perhaps overly skeptical. Maybe I just chose the wrong book to start with?

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    Replies
    1. I haven't read all of Sarah Dessens books, but I did like the ones I have read (I agree about them being over-hyped though). I understand why someone wouldn't like them though. Reading her books never really feels like an escape, I don't get swept up into the story, and her stories and characters feel so grounded in reality sometimes that it's frustrating and all of the books that I've read of hers have the same kind of feeling for me.

      Most people that I've talked to that love her books say that The Truth About Forever is her best one. I really liked This Lullaby too.

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  3. I think this is actually a pretty common problem. The same way I'd read anything by certain authors, there are just some authors where their writing isn't my cup of tea. I will tell you, I had a similar experience with 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Name of the Star. I didn't really care for 13, but enjoyed Name enough to read the follow up.

    I do try to give an author a second chance if the synopsis of the new book sounds interesting. It's usually a 2 strikes policy with me because I know that sometimes it's the subject/plot of the book that I didn't care for and not necessarily the author's writing. But with certain authors that's tough - like Sara Dessen. If you don't like one of her books, chances are you won't like any of them because they're all pretty similar.

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  4. I think it's unavoidable if you have a bad experience with one book to be leery of picking up another title by that same author. Just the extent differs. I've seen the same author pop up a couple of times on NetGalley and while the book sounds interesting I couldn't even finish the first book I read by that same author. So no dice.

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  5. It's hard to make yourself sit down and read something if you don't like their other books, or at least in my experience. With every new book, I give Sarah Dessen a chance -- the first book of hers I read was Dreamland, and I loved it. The other ones have just been... dull. But I keep going, because I know there's something great possible there.

    I try to give authors I don't like second chances. I can like someone's work without liking them as people. I tried to give John Green a second chance after I read Looking for Alaska, but I guess I like his books about as much as I like him as a person.

    On the flip side, I really Did Not Like Abby McDonald's Sophomore Switch, but Getting of Garrett Delaney was awesome. I really enjoyed reading that, and it just goes to show that sometimes you have to quiet out that voice that says "but you didn't like ____!" and read on.

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  6. But, but, but, SWEETHEARTS IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS EVER!!!!! Okay sorry I'm just so sad you gave it away before giving it a chance. I wasn't a huge fan of Story of a Girl either but Sweethearts was just perfection. Gahhh.

    I wasn't a huge fan of 13 Little Blue Envelopes either or it's sequel. Maureen Johnson seems SO nice but I have yet to absolutely love one of her books.

    As for Libba Bray I love all her stuff. It's a bummer you didn't like AGATB because I thought that series was made of awesome. :)

    I am a very open minded person when it comes to reading so I never avoid books merely because a certain author has written them. Heck I even own The Host by Stephanie Meyer (granted my brother found it for free on the side of the road....) and I wouldn't be caught dead with a Twilight book. I know that authors change and evolve and so does their writing so if I don't like one of their books I always give others a chance. I tend to be more swayed by the summary and book cover than the author anyway.

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