Monday, March 19, 2012

Blind Book Date Follow-Up

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and curl up on the couch because it's time to find out the dirt on your blind date with a book.

I was really excited about this idea and even more excited to see the unique list of books everyone came up with.

Up to the point of the blind book date I had been reading a lot of romance and women's fiction. Previous titles on my just-read list included Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Madeiros, and Every Last One by Anna Quindlen (all of which I'd recommend, by the way). So when I first met my date and discovered that it was The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker, I was excited. Not only was this something very different from what I had been reading (which is what I'd hoped for in this exercise), but I had also never read Alice Walker.

There's no doubt this book is very different from what I had been reading, and while I can certainly agree with the many who will say Alice Walker is an amazing writer, I have to confess that I just didn't love this book. In fact, I didn't finish the book. I gave myself permission long ago to not finish books I'm not enjoying. Life is too short and there are too many books I will enjoy to force myself to finish something, and while I didn't find this painful it was ultimately not my cup of tea. I suppose someone is going to say that it's not a romance and that's why I didn't enjoy it. I don't think that's the case. I think I'm savvy enough to recognize when I'm not liking something because it's not in the genre I'm in the mood to read vs. when I'm not liking something because I'm not connecting with it, and in this case I just didn't connect.

Will I read something from Alice Walker again? Probably not, but never say never.

Was I happy to have tried? Thrilled that I was given the opportunity to experience this iconic author.

Did this open up new reading possibilities for me? I'm not sure. It's not really classified as a genre and therefore not something I've never experienced (like a SF book for someone who has never read SF, for example), but it also didn't close any doors.

Would I participate in something like this again? Absolutely. My to-be-read list has grown exponentially thanks to the suggestions on the blog.

Now it's your turn. What book did you read (or attempt to read) and how was the experience for you?


Jessica

30 comments:

Wry Wryter said...

THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield
I found the beginning extremely confusing. I reread it and got into the story, sort-of, but stopped on page 91, over 300 to go. That I have not finished, and that I found things a bit jumbled, has absolutely nothing to do with the book however. I have two daughters getting married, one this Friday, huge wedding, so my mind being elsewhere is an understatement. (Two weddings in six months is God’s payback for eloping.)
What keeps running through my mind, AND the reason I will finish this book, is that it is someone’s favorite. That will get me to finish. I’m hitting page 91 a week from today when the wedding craziness is over...until the next kid ties the sheep shank.

Kelly said...

I read BET ME by Jennifer Crusie. I really enjoyed it. I'm in my final semester of grad school and have been up to my ears in research papers and study sessions. So, it was great to take a break from all of that and just read something fun. I liked the two main characters a lot, but I also really liked all the supporting characters. That's always something I look for in a book. The main characters make a lot more sense if I can see the other people in their lives.

Thanks for the suggestion! It was exactlly what I needed to keep myself from going insane in the face of school work.

Janet said...

Luckily, Wry Wryter has just commented because I can thank her for her recommendation: The Art of Racing in the Rain!

This book has been on my TBR list for some time, but, for whatever reason, I've never picked it up. I knew it was told by the dog's POV and was looking forward to how that read. I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED! Loved the book. Only problem I had - crying in the first chapter and then refusing to read the last two chapters for two weeks because I knew what was going to happen. On the "Tissue Count" scale of book reading: 4/5!

Thanks again, Wry Wryter. And thanks Jessica for such a wonderful idea - like you, I've added a bunch of book titles to my TBR list!

Colin Smith said...

I dated BREATH, EYES, MEMORY by Edwidge Danticat. I've posted a full review on my blog today if anyone wants to read it, but to summarize, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. It's not something I would instinctively choose, and that's to my shame. It's beautifully and evocatively written. The voice is clear, and the story compelling. Thank you whoever hooked me up with this novel. It was a great experience. :)

Sarah said...

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Greene, was my date. I read and write YA, but not contemporary, so this was a break from my normal reading. I really enjoyed it, although I had to brace myself for the whole book because the subject matter was so sad, even though it wasn't a "sad" book. It was a quick, easy read and the writing was excellent. Ultimately, I'm glad I read it and will be venturing into the contemporary section more! Thanks for the suggestion!

Deborah Serravalle said...

I had trouble finishing Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. It may have been my mood. I'm going to give it another try...

Sarah said...

I was to read A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD. I didn't finish it. While I think the book is written well, and I enjoyed the character depth in the first chapter. I wasn't pulled in farther. And when the book switched from 3rd person POV to 1st, it was too much for me to handle. I gave myself permission to put it aside.

However, I enjoyed the experience and am always open to trying new books.

LSkeers said...

Thanks to Dani Nosek for my book date with FORBIDDEN by Tabitha Suzuma. I was a little hesitant about a YA about incest but I was captivated immediately by the alternating fist person narration that really got into the heart and soul of these characters -- and how their relationship grew to something more than just siblings. I have to admit, the ending came as a surprise -- one that stayed with me long after I finished the book! I hope more people find this controversial gem and give it a read!

fOIS In The City said...

Jessica, it's a long time reading with no comments, but this got me where I live. I read in Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook that it's best we don't continue reading when we discover the book does not grab us. I read that comment too many years ago to admit. I can usaully tell if I can make it to the end, but have no qualms about letting go. Right you are. Time is short and my reading list long.

It happens with writers we have read and loved as well as those we have never read. The Bluest Eye,by Toni Morrison haunts me to this day, yet I have not finished all of her books. I can start on a mystery series or a romance series and get to book No. whatever and say, okay that's enough. Or I might have become disenchanted with one too many car explosions in Janet E's series. I don't need a reason and neither do any of us.

Hope the next selection on our blind dates works out better :)

Paige said...

I read WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE. Kim Lionetti offered two date options: GILBERT and a Dean Koontz book. Initially I thought “I LOVE Dean Koontz, so I’ll get that one.” But then I realized I should try to expand my horizons and I’d heard about GILBERT for years – I hadn’t seen the movie either.

I found it to be an odd, disturbing, and wonderful story. It takes place in a small town in Iowa. I went to high school and college in Des Moines (which isn’t small, of course), and I’ve lived in a number of small Midwestern towns. The book most certainly captures a certain essence of smaller communities - I think that it’s just easier to see everyone’s strangeness in a small town because there aren’t so many other distractions. The author, Peter Hedges, is really good at “character” and he wrote these characters so well that I had to wonder if they weren’t based upon real people. The story is so compelling that not only was it difficult to put the book down, it was difficult not to think about it when I wasn’t reading it.

It was a great date, Kim. Thank you.

Tiana Smith said...

I'm not finished yet with The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I'm only 1,010 pages in. (Yes, ONLY 1,010. This book is a honking 1,252 pages long. Whoever set me up with it was trying to sneak in about five books for the price of one). I had a really hard time getting into this book, and only started finding things interesting about half way through - and when the book is as long as this one, half way is a looooong way away.

If I hadn't been reading it for this, I probably would have given up, which is ironic, because I've read epic fantasies before. (I love the Wheel of Time and some other books by Sanderson). It was just so confusing at first and I didn't feel any connection to any of the characters. Once I got past the halfway mark, more things started to make sense and I could start to enjoy the events.

I still feel this is more of a ... manly book, since it's very centered on war and there's only one female main character in the entire thing. But yes, I'll probably pick up the next one now that I've done the legwork and gotten invested. After spending so much time with these characters, I want to know how their story lines will play out. (And here I promised myself I wouldn't get invested in another epic fantasy after the Wheel of Time. Sigh). Thanks for the suggestion!

Dana Sieders said...

I read Anne Gracie's BRIDE BY MISTAKE. Nobleman Luke Ripton returns to Spain to collect his wife, Isabella, whom he married during his war service in order to save her from a forced marriage to her loathsome cousin. She's been living in a convent waiting for her dark angel soldier to come and rescue her. Her disappointment is palpable when she discovers he only came back for her when his request for an annulment was denied. His disappointment in her lack of the submissive obedience he'd expected from convent training is comic and engaging. He wishes to gather his bride, get the hell away from Spain and the demons of his past, and settle into a friendly-if-loveless marriage back in England.

Bella has other plans, including a side-trip back home to settle some unfinished business.

First the good: Gracie's description of the rugged Spanish landscape and inhabitants were evocative and a pleasure to read. I very much enjoyed the 'road trip' aspect of the narrative, as well as the road Ripton and Bella travel toward true love.

Now the bad: I found Bella's 'unfinished business' in her home country to be a pretty weak plot element. The reason behind Ripton's war angst also didn't do it for me - and I'm an angst junkie, believe you me!

Still, I found the premise to be original and I did enjoy the characters of Ripton and Bella and found BRIDE BY MISTAKE to be a nice, light weekend read.

Kristin McFarland said...

I read CAST IN SHADOW by Michelle Sagara.

I'm a fantasy reader, so I was happy to start on a potential new series.

But I won't lie: this book won't make my list of favorites. It was fun, but a bit confusing toward the end. I felt like I was watching people stumble around in the dark looking for a light switch: I knew what the goal was, but I had know idea what the characters were doing to reach it. I felt fairly bewildered for a lot of the book's third quarter, and by the fourth quarter, I just didn't care.

On the upside, though, I found the world and the main character fairly interesting. I also read that the later books in the trilogy are better, so sometime down the road, I may read the next book.

Silver James said...

My date was FAIR AND TENDER LADIES by Lee Smith and set up by misstante. I normally don't read "women's fiction" -- whatever the heck that actually means. I read the book in bits and pieces. As the format is a series of letters written by the protagonist, the book lent itself well to this. I finished the book with a bit of a sniffle. Ivy Rowe is a character I know well. Not *her* necessarily, but her type. From my time living in Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, I knew women like Ivy. I admired them and respected them. Seeing the land, her family, and her life through the words she writes in letters to others, I came to admire and respect Ivy, too.

This is not a book I would have picked up for myself. I am glad I read it. Will I read other books by Lee Smith? I'm not sure. I have 179 books on my TBR pile as it is.

This was a lot of fun and I hope y'all will do it again in future. Sometimes, we need to be challenged to read something out of our norm just so we can remember why we enjoy what we read.

Carol L.Wright said...

My date was REGENERATION by Pat Barker (1993). It is set in WWI England, which with Downton Abbey and War Horse seems to be a very popular setting these days. Still, it's not something I would likely have picked up myself.

It is based on the true story of Siegfried Sassoon, a decorated British officer who was relegated to a mental hospital rather than court-martialled when he wrote a declaration opposing the war--a potentially treasonous offense. As the novel unfolds, we meet doctors and other patients who lend insight into the human toll and horror of war.

Before reading it, I noted the high praise the work had received from critics, but it didn't grab me in the same way. It seemed to want to be profound, but fell short for me. I'm glad to have given it a chance, though, and would definitely participate in a book blind date again.

Cindy Angell Keeling said...

My date was with EVENING, by Susan Minot.
While it was a brilliantly-written book, I found the author's style tiring by the half-way point. That said, I'm glad I finished. (Thanks for the recommendation, Laura.)

I hope we do this again next year!

Flo said...

My blind date book was The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. I am not a fan of literary novels, nor the writing style. I don't like intrusive narrators or being told what was going on. I didn't even make it through the first two chapters before I returned it to the library, because it took me 5 tries to read that far. I did read the Sparknotes on the book, and it is rather exactly the sort of book that I just don't like.

I don't think being disabled, with friends who are Deaf and use ASL, helps when the author keeps using terms that are somewhat patronizing for the language John Singer uses most. It put my teeth on edge.

The Other Stephen King said...

Hope this doesn't duplicate--I got an error message the first time I tried to post. I've given it several minutes to show if it caught my earlier attempt, but nothing has come up.

My date was with How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff. Made it to page 3. Hated it. After I put it down and resolved to never pick it up again (though I did; I gave it to my cleaning lady to read) I went to Amazon to see what was wrong with me. Turns out that the people who like it, really like it. Some, like me, really hate it, and mostly all for the same reason.

Receptivity to stories is a very personal, subjective type of thing. Some stories resonate with me, and others don't. In this case, the story synopsis didn't seem bad. It was the voice. The book is written in the POV of a 15-year-old girl, which isn't a bad thing necessarily (my current WIP is in an 18-year-old girl's POV). It was also, though, written in the actual voice of the girl, run-on sentences and incomplete thoughts and strange capitalizations and all.

I admit, I didn't even like talking to my own stepdaughter when she was that age. I tried, long ago, working with the youth of the church (both boy and girl) in that age range and found I couldn't do it. Senior senior high kids are wonderful. Fourteen and fifteen year olds, on the other hand, make me want to run away screaming.

If you enjoy talking to kids in this age range, please get the book and read it. I've read some positively glowing reviews on it. If you don't, though--well, you're in the same club as me.

Would I do this again? Sure. Possibly. Maybe. Probably would. It's always fun to find new great stories to read. Just don't expect me to always like it.

Kim Lionetti said...

Paige -- Yay! I'm so happy you liked GILBERT GRAPE! Those characters really stick with you. That's what I loved about that book.

I have to confess I haven't started THE MASTER AND THE MARGARITA yet. I purchased it, but just haven't had a chance to crack it open. It's definitely outside of my comfort zone, but I will certainly give it a shot. Sorry I can't report back yet!

Jude said...

My date was WELCOME TO TEMPTATION by Jennifer Crusie. I'd read this before, but reread it for this book date.

WTT is one of Crusie's most popular books. I am not sure why it is so popular since it shares many of the same traits as her other books: an angry, unappreciated fixer who finds a man who insightfully overlooks her rage and bad behavior to see the golden heart underneath, snappy dialogue which sometimes sacrifices character differentiation for really clever line delivery from multiple characters, endearing character traits/tics like trading movie lines, dedication to a musical artist, family history of running cons.

Crusie is a very thoughtful storywriter, I admire her witty dialogue, and have not read anything of hers I didn't enjoy.

Jude said...

The recommendation of TEMPLE OF MY FAMILIAR by Alice Walker was mine.

Until you mentioned not being able to connect, I had not remembered that I tried to read this book a number of times, and it was only when I pushed past the first hundred pages or so that it all started coming together in a magical way. This book started me on a personal rule of giving books one hundred pages before giving up.

Not trying to get you to go back to it, just regretting I didn't give a head's up that the storytelling style takes a while to pull you in.

Suzanne Earley said...

My book was THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Steifvater and I absolutely adored it. I was hooked right from the start, and unfortunately, I had to go to work the next morning, so I couldn't stay up all night reading it.

It's not that far away from the kind of book I usually read, but I don't know that I would have found this one, or picked it up if I'd come across it.I am so glad it was my "date". I didn't want it to end, I wanted to know more about the characters, and I was really fascinated by the world they populated.

Thank you for setting us all up, I would definitely do this again, and I keep meaning to go back through the original recommendations, to find some more books to read that I might not find otherwise.

Ann von Mehren said...

When Joanne Harris was recommended, and nobody immediately took the invitation, I decided to go on and reserve the right to have a drink with Blackberry Wine. Her book Chocolat has been recommended to me, Five Quarters of an Orange as well. I have two boxes of books to sort through, but I was glad to skip those and read Harris. I started with Chocolat, quite famous, and yes! got the endorphins I was told I would. Not quite as high on Blackberry Wine, yet, not finished with it. Thank you, St. Valentine, reading for reasons like this is fun.

Juturna F. said...

I read The Host by Stephanie Meyer, and I'll be honest, if it hadn't been my blind date, I'd have never picked it up. Definitely not a Twilight fan. I also have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. The plot reminded me a lot of a series I've already read - it was Animorphs with pacifist Yeerks - but it was decently written and had a good pace, and hey, I really liked the Animorphs series when I was a kid.

I respect any writer who is such a success as Meyer, even if her books aren't to my taste, so I'm really glad to see her write something I do like. And I'm also glad to see that she's keeping her hands in the game, and not becoming a one-hit wonder, where I imagine it would pretty easy for a successful writer to get stuck. It was a good read, and I'm glad I had to give her another chance.

Juturna F. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mina Lobo said...

Well, I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't read the instructions very carefully and wound up reading the wrong book - Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. Since I did read it, though, I'll toss in my wholehearted support for it. Though it sucked me in right away, it was a hard read because of the neglect this family is cast into by its parents. The development of the relationship between the eldest brother and sister happens so naturally, so understandably, and the love they express for one another is beautiful. My heart ached for these characters - I wanted so much to believe that everything would work out for them, as alien as their situation felt to me. The ending is horrible, tragic, but I don't regret reading it for a moment, and I congratulate the author on her courage in telling this story.

The book it appears I was *supposed* to read, Katherine Neville's "The Eight," I happen to have read *ages* ago, in the early 90s, I think. I can't remember many particulars, though I do recall thinking it a sweeping epic of a historical mystery. I've been thinking I'd like to pick it up again and reacquaint myself with the story, and now I've a reason to!

So, sorry for messing up, but thanks for letting me play! :-)

Leslie said...

My blind date selection was THE FUTURE OF US by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, a YA novel I would not have chosen on my own and that is the beauty of this exercise.

The book takes place in the early 90's with a teenager's discovery she can see her future through a mysterious link with an unknown program called Facebook. She and her best guy friend learn they can alter their futures by small acts in their everyday lives, in the end learning the relationship they share is a more valuable basis of love than the superficial things they thought they valued in others.

I thought this was an intriguing concept and enjoyed the book, but felt it was a bit slanted by adult bias rather than reflecting a true YA voice (or perhaps these teenagers were much, much more mature than I was at their age . . . I confess to just wanting to date the popular guy regardless of the impact on my future!)

Overall, a positive experience.

S.P. Bowers said...

I was supposed to read Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, but I had to ILL it from a ways away. I couldn't do it immediately for fear it would show up while we were out of town so it hasn't arrived yet. So sorry. I will read it when it comes.

I love this experience though and I love hearing about all these books that I might never have found otherwise.

ryan field said...

I began A Soldier's Duty, but soon remembered why this isn't my favorite genre. It's well written, but it was my own personal taste that made me stop reading. I wish I could say I loved it, but I can't. I might go back to it sometime down the road. I have done this before with books I have stopped reading.

Zequeatta Jaques said...

Well, I am behind a day or two. I just remembered our date to give an opinion on our blind date with a book. My book was Lisey's Story by Stephen King. I enjoy most but not all of Mr. King's books and I have to say that Lisey's Story is one that I haven't quite made up my mind on. I haven't finished it yet but what I've read so far jumps around so much that I've lost interest several times trying to keep up. Mr. King is a master storyteller(And I'm wondering how I have the guts to say this)but I think this story could have had more editing done. I will finish it though just to see what happens to Lisey.