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February 10, 2010


Lil Gluckstern

Thank you for verbalizing something I haven't allowed myself to think for a while. I just finished a book that was recommended as charming, selling well, etc. and I realized as I finished it, I didn't like it. The sad thing is that I wanted to, but I found it contrived, and not very well written, but interesting enough to finish it. I just need to accept that, in a lifetime of reading, some books will disappoint, and that I move on. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird, Scarlet letter-not so much!

Toni L.P. Kelner

Lil, I'm with you. I love MOCKINGBIRD, and though I'm glad I read THE SCARLET LETTER for historical perspective, I'll never reread it.

Kristina L.

I agree with this! I know "The Firm" was a best seller, but the characters didn't appeal to me. All of them, even the protagonist, seemed greedy and overly self-centered.

In school, I had to read a lot of "classics", and I disliked most of them. Most of them were depressing.

Edgar Allan Poe should *not* be read by sensitive kids, which I was.

"Great Expectations" had unhappy endings for most of the characters.

I kind of liked Shakespear, though.

Sheila Connolly

I just read (and yes, finished) a book by a new author, and I thought it was terrible by every standard I know. Yet it's been selling well. Am I really that out of synch with popular writing in my own genre?

I don't think we should reject any book (or movie) just because Everybody Likes It, but sometimes we hear a different drummer.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Yes, sometimes I don't see the allure of books that lots of people like. Other times,I do! I guess that's why there are so many books, huh?

And as for classics, I think sometimes kids are forced to read things too soon. And it ruins them.

When I don't love a book, I just don't finish it. My husband, however, insists on plowing through to the end of his reading--no matter how he feels about it. He'll say things like--sigh, I wish this would be over.

Sometimes I take those books and hide them. Put him out of his misery!

Lil Gluckstern

I am checking out your books, Toni, they sound a hoot. I actually got Hank's first book directly from her, and I am now totally hooked! So no complaints there. Just good stuff...

Mike Dennis

I couldn't agree more, Toni. A few months ago, I wrote a blog on my website called "Waiting For James Ellroy", in which I proclaimed myself to be an unabashed Ellroy fan, eagerly awaiting his new novel, BLOOD'S A ROVER.

I also mentioned his previous novel, THE COLD SIX THOUSAND, book #2 in his current trilogy, and that I put it down seven pages before the end. And the novel was some 700 pages long.

About two-thirds of the way through the book, I knew where it was going, but I kept at it anyway. However, by the time I got to the last seven pages, I really didn't care. Down it went.


Since I'm a bookseller, in addition to being an author, I go through this all the time, while reading the stock we carry. I need to know what a book is about, what the author does well, what s/he does less well, so I can advise customers. But even when I can see value in a particular novel, doesn't mean I form an emotional connection to the material. I'm delighted when I genuinely love something I didn't expect to care for, because then I can share that enthusiasm with my customers. However, just because I loved it doesn't mean they will. Ideally, books - and all art forms - should touch us on both an intellectual and emotional level, but it doesn't always happen.


I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Great post, Toni. Taste is such a personal thing, and it's so important not to confuse personal taste with the quality of work. Like watching Project Runway, and absolutely hating an outfit, but getting why it "works" for some people.

Charlaine Harris

Or not getting it, and thinking the judges must have taken hallucinogenics. I've felt that way so often, Toni. I've read a bestseller, or even a book that was highly recommended, and though I could see the excellence, I was too bored to finish it. Life is too short to read books that don't engage.


Susan, glad to have you here. Feel free to comment anytime!

I agree, life is too short and there are way too many great books out there to find for me to keep reading one that's not my cup of tea.

I rarely like bestsellers. Only yours, Charlaine :) because they have depth plus interesting characters. The top sellers usually have such boring protagonists and story lines to me. Not all, but enough that I don't pay attention to those lists. I go by book reviews and reader comments in choosing what to read next.

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