Booking Through Thursday (8 October)

Today’s Booking Through Thursday is… a little backward. Read on:

“I was wanting to try a certain author and wished I knew someone who had read her works so I could get a recommendation when it occurred to me that having a “YOU ask the question” Booking Through Thursday might be fun. Each participant could ask a question they’ve wanted to discuss with other readers. Perhaps, like me, you’d like a recommendation of a certain author’s best work, or perhaps you LOVE a certain genre or series but no one else you know does and you’d just like to discuss it with someone. Or perhaps you want to try a new genre and would like recommendations from seasoned readers.”

So. What I want from you guys is a reason or two or twelve to stop being prejudiced against books, because I hear it’s easier being a librarian if you don’t mock your patrons for their book choices. Here is my list of things I don’t get and have so far tried not to get, but maybe you can convince me to want to try to get them:

Chick Lit
Cozy Mysteries
Memoirs
Dan Brown
Romances
Thrillers

If you can launch a spirited defense (or just a regular defense) of any of these genres, please do so!

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19 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday (8 October)

  1. Mary says:

    I assume that for genres like “memoir” you're not prejudiced against really literary things that are technically memoirs?

    Also… I don't hate Dan Brown (and I actually really enjoy the movies). If you can get past the fact that he writes at a fifth-grade level… and the fact that his facts are super-jumbled… especially The DaVinci Code can be really interesting.

  2. Alison says:

    Define “really literary things that are technically memoirs” (or at least give an example!).

    My problem with memoirs in general is, I guess, that I'm a big plot fan and not a big non-fiction fan and memoir writers don't usually seem to tell a story with their writing so much as they simply recount the events that happened to them. And I just don't caaaaaare.

  3. ladystorm says:

    Umm what do you read…LOL Okay, I can't believe you don't like thrillers..there is just something about being on the edge of your seat, can't wait to know what happens next. If it is written well, it can keep me up at night and that is what I like..lol

    My problem genre is Sci-Fi/Fantasy I just can't get into those much but I have been trying to branch out..lol

  4. Alison says:

    Ladystorm — Haha, well… I do read science fiction and fantasy and love them to death. I'm also a big fan of mysteries that are not cozy.

    It's funny about thrillers… like I said to Mary, I'm a big plot fan, but I can't take it if plot is the only thing in a novel. Most of the thrillers I've read have been full of twists and turns and fun things like that, but absolutely no character development, and it frustrates me.

  5. Mary says:

    Memoirs that are literary… The Woman Warrior, The Color of Water, Angela's Ashes… and I think David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs are technically memoirists? I would also lean towards lumping autobiographical novels in this category although that's kind of a slippery slope.

    And what you just said about your problems with thrillers are exactly why you'd want to punch Dan Brown in the nuts if you read his books, haha…

  6. Alison says:

    I haven't read any of those literary memoirs, alas. I do like me some David Sedaris, but I tend more toward his funny stuff than his serious stuff because he seems to get a bit… I don't know what the word is, but his serious stories don't tend to be as tight as the funny ones.

    I feared that about Dan Brown. I'm still going to read The DaVinci Code eventually because, again, the librarian thing, but I'm going to need a plane flight or some other long-term sitting to make it happen.

  7. Brittany says:

    I'm actually with you on many of these 'prejudices' that you list. (I inwardly shudder whenever someone recommends a chick lit book to me.)

    But I have recently learned to enjoy memoirs. I think the key is to pick one about a topic or person you are genuinely interested. For example, I love food and cooking, so I really enjoyed My Life in France and A Homemade Life. Even when there wasn't a plot to drive the book, there was still an interesting person or a tidbit about food that kept me turning the pages.

  8. Alison says:

    Maybe that's why I don't really get into memoirs… I can't think of any particular subject I'm interested enough in to want to read a few hundred pages about it (see also: bad at reading non-fiction).

  9. Todd says:

    All forms of narrative technically have a plot, even memoir. The plot may not be tightly-woven, as it is in some forms of fiction, but it's there. Plot is how a piece of writing is structured. It may be very imagistic, and not follow a clear path, but it's there.

    As far as memoir/autobiography goes, I like stories about real people telling about a transitional point in their lives. I like to think in others we see ourselves, and that's one reason we read.

  10. Jessica says:

    I have to agree with you about Dan Brown.

    I read chick lit in college, though I don't read it now. I was trying to study Latin and Attic Greek at the same time, and frankly I couldn't concentrate on anything more challenging. I liked that chick lit is usually more about career success than traditional romance novels like my mom reads.

    The only “cozy mysteries” I read at this time are the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. And they are fantastic! They're more about ethical dilemmas, well-drawn characters, and picturesque regions than about mysteries, per se. I think they have their place.

    I am memoir-crazy. The first thing I love about memoirs is that they make my own dysfunctional childhood seem positively enjoyable in comparison. The second thing I love is when the person has become successful at coping in some way; it's helped me in my career and in so many other ways. I prefer memoir to fiction because memoir is often more extreme and has more plot twists.

    I like certain thriller authors. They can be really clever and strategically planned. When I think of thrillers, I always think of people with high-pressure jobs who deserve an escape, like surgeons or air traffic controllers, but who would fall asleep for anything slower paced.

    Though I too loathe the romance genre, I'll tell you what a friend told me. She has worked as a clerk at a bookstore for many years. She says romance sales represent at least a third of their sales volume, and that without romance a huge majority of bookstores would go out of business. You can thank romance readers and their prolific habits – they often read a couple a day – for keeping the doors open for the rest of us to buy “real” books.

    The last thing I have to say about scoffing at genre fiction is that we never know about someone else's literacy skills. Some are recently acquired through hard, humiliating work, and some have begun to deteriorate. We found out my Nana had Alzheimer's partly because she quit reading novels.

    Hope this helps!

  11. Alison says:

    Jessica — Wow! Good points, all around. Can you recommend any best novels (that you've read, anyway) of those genres that I can check out?

    And, I should probably clarify, I don't have anything against the people who read romances or chick lit or The Lost Symbol (cue cliché: “Some of my best friends read romances!”), because I don't really care what people read as long as they're reading! I just want to understand the allure. 🙂

  12. Novroz says:

    I can't help you with Chiklit and romance coz I am in the same position as yours 🙂

    But I love thriller so much. You should read them because it pumps your adrenallin, in my case, if the thriller is good…I hardly can put the book down. It captured all my attention.

  13. Kristin says:

    I think that you are perfectly right in mocking patrons for those choices. But some memoirs are decent – I agree with the previous poster that Angela's Ashes shouldn't really be mocked, and I am sure there are others in that category that rate high on the literary scale as well.

  14. Tina Kubala says:

    One reason stands above all others: At least the people who read these genres are reading.

    I know you deal with readers all day, but I can tell you we are the minority.

    I've read at least one good book in each of the categories.

  15. Alison says:

    Tina — Yep! I'm glad people are reading, for sure! I just don't understand why they pick what they do… can you give me recommendations for these genres so that I can see what I'm missing? The real problem with genre fiction is figuring out where to start!

  16. Unruly Reader says:

    Cozy mysteries can be lovely, once a reader accepts the premise that murder can happen over and over and over again, in the mild-manner-ist places. For me, if I like the setting of the story/series (cozies set in a quilt shop or yarn shop, for example) and I like the characters, I'm a sucker for cozy mysteries. Other types of cozies (catering mysteries, for some reason), though, leave me cold.

    The good news is: It's all good, even if you dislike them all your days… : )

  17. Tina Kubala says:

    I was a little harsh in my first comment. Oops. Must come from being caught reading the trashy stuff and never the brainy stuff.

    My taste runs all over the map. Pretty much, if it is well written I'm good to go.

    Okay, let me think:

    Chick Lit – I'm never sure exactly what chick lit means. I've read the books they based Sex in the City on. Not impressed, but I only like the show for Chris Noth. Is that chick lit? I guess the author I like best that might be chick lit is Maeve Binchy. I've read nearly everything she has written, starting when I was in eighth grade and the movie based on Circle of Friends came out. The book is much better. Of her recent books, I love Scarlet Feather. It features a rich cast of characters in current day Dublin. If nothing else, it is chick lit because I can't picture a guy reading it.

    Cozy Mysteries – I mostly like crime/police procedural rather than mysteries. I do get a kick out of Diane Mott Davidson. Her amateur detective is a caterer. The books feature recipes from her menus. With a title like Dying for Chocolate how can you go wrong?

    Memoirs – as someone else said, the key is picking someone who interests you. I prefer an memoir to an “autobiography” in that I don't want a tell-all or a recount of events, but to get closer to a person's soul. My first memoir reading was Madeline L'engle, most famous for A Wrinkle in Time and other YA books. I read them in middle school. She writes on art and faith in addition to her extraordinary life. Gene Wilder's memoir Kiss Me Like A Stranger is wonderful. I also enjoyed Patty Duke's book Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness which is co written with an expert in the field. I've got a copy of her first memoir Call Me Anna on the TBR shelf.

    Dan Brown – ummm… I'm glad I read The Da Vinci Code and Angles and Demons, but they aren't the best books. Half the fun in reading books that popular is picking them apart. I'm a snob about massive best sellers. Da Vinci Code was better. Partly due to the fact that A & D is too long for the twelve hour time frame off the book. It lost me on that point alone.

    Romances – I like my romance funny and smutty. I know, I know. I'm a grown married woman so I can read 'em if I want. I love Rachel Gibson. Try Sex, Lies, and Online Dating. Or Vicki Lewis Thompson. Her Nerd Books are amazing. I'd recommend either The Nerd Who Loved Me or Gone With the Nerd or Nerd in Shining Armor. Any of them are way fun and silly.

    Thrillers – I love Sandra Brown. Her old romances are really good, but her thrillers showcase her talents. Play Dirty and Chill Factor are both excellent.

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