I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter. That’s probably not a shock to those of you who are subjected to all of my tweets and subsequent postings of those tweets on Facebook, but I do.
I spend a lot of time on Twitter because it’s one of the quickest ways to find out about new books and get reading suggestions. Failing that, I trawl other peoples blogs looking for their top tips on books and seeing if I can find a hidden gem that I might otherwise have looked over while skipping to my favourite author instead. I’ve found a number of gems this way. I’ve also grown by TBR to a size where I’d need a year long career break if I ever expected to make a proper dent in it. Hey ho. Us bookish types are all the same and I’m sure my piles are still smaller than some.
One thing that does strike me as I peruse, is the sheer number of books billed as ‘this year’s top read’ or the ‘must read book of 2017’. Now I know a lot of this is marketing hype and much like the ‘film of the year’ accolades handed out to the first movie to be released in January, these claims should be taken with a pinch of salt. And yet they persist. This and the ‘for fans of’ marketing strategy. I hate that, I really do. What if I didn’t really didn’t like the book they are referring to? Do I pass this book up too or do I take a punt and risk disappointment. Life is short, non work time is precious and with so many books to read why would I take this kind of risk?
How many times are we promised a killer hook, a twisted ending, amongst all of the marketing hype only to be left feeling a bit meh at the end of it all? I can name dozens of books which I have seen people rave about and I’ve been felt kind of indifferent about if, indeed, I even managed to finish them. I can perhaps see the merit of the plot, the strength of the writing but they just leave me cold. Now you’ll probably never know which books these are as I’ll never publish a review of them, but they’ve been some pretty popular, heavily hyped books believe me. And yet with one of those authors, I loved every single other book in the series apart from that one and I let that put me off reading another book for a while. That was a damned shame as when I finally read another of their books I absolutely loved it.
So they tell us don’t judge a book by the cover, but maybe it should be don’t judge a book by its hype. I try my hardest to keep an open mind but there is something, the devil in me perhaps, which makes me want to run for the hills when anyone tells me something is must read or must watch, and I know that I’m a hypocrite as I have often told people that myself on Twitter and in my reviews. But I like making my own mind up, like not being swayed by the masses. Don’t get me wrong. When something is really popular in the blogging community I will listen as I trust my fellow bloggers. I know that they have impeccable taste and I know who like the same things as me. If they say something is good, I will generally listen.
So what is it that gives a book that must read status? The real one, not the fake, marketing department derived one. For me it is all about character and plot. The twisted, often surprising and occasionally heart warming ending. About that je ne sais quoi, the thing you can’t quite quantify or explain but you know the minute you are reading it. The books that intrigue, astonish, engage, amuse. I don’t know how they do it or why they do it but they do.
So what is it that draws you in to a book? What gives it that killer hook for you? Do you think it is even possible to quantify a must read and is this a dated marketing ploy or a sure fire money spinner? Is word of mouth more important than a tagline or sound-bite?Do you find that all the ‘big reads’ these days are turning into polarising Marmite books – you’re either going to love them or hate them? I’m not sure we’ll ever truly define what a must read is, and I know I don’t have the answers, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Happy weekend reading all