The other day, Kathleen and I were discussing the new book "Committed," by Elizabeth Gilbert. We both agreed that we enjoyed it. My mother has said to me "I don't want to read about somebody's marriage." Well, the book's not about her marriage. It basically ends with the marriage. It is really about thinking about marriage, deciding to get married, and how other cultures perceive marriage.
It's a memoir, so we see everything through the lens of Gilbert's personal experiences. Therefore, if you read "Eat, Pray, Love," her most famous memoir, and you didn't like it, or thought she was whiny, you won't like this one, because she has the same voice. If you did like "Eat, Pray, Love," you'll probably enjoy "Committed," because it invites considering similar life questions: What do I want to do with my life? With whom do I want to spend it? Where do I want to live? What are my values?
There are some people who won't read a book just because it is a bestseller. They didn't read "Eat, Pray, Love" because of that. I held out for a long time on that one, too, for the same reason.
The Mighty BestsellerThis is entirely my own opinion, but something every bookseller, or every avid reader probably confronts at one point or another: why do I read? And, do I really want to read something that everyone else on the planet is reading right now? There's something nice about being able to discuss a book with virtually everyone you meet. But, there's something close and private about discovering a book that you like that NOBODY else is reading, or has read. It is like a little secret with yourself.
Reading a book that isn't on the bestseller list confers its own status, consciously or unconsciously. It says "I'm reading this because I like to read. Not because my friend told me to." It says "I can find little gems of printed word all by myself, thank you very much." It says "I'm an individual. I don't follow the crowd."
What I've found, though, when I refuse to read bestsellers, just because they're bestsellers, is that sometimes I miss out on really good books. When I finally get around to reading one of those, I say to myself "Why was I the LAST person on earth to read this?"
How about you? Do you read bestsellers often? Do you pause before picking one up?