Posted by: Matt | September 20, 2007

Put the Book Down!

Without disrespecting peoples taste in books, because we all have our own opinions, I would like to relate something that seems to be occurring often lately. Have you ever seen someone reading a book in public and wanted to tell them to stop because they’ll only end up disappointed? I seem to be seeing a fair number of people reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova lately. I want to tell them to put it away because they’ll only reach the end wishing they hadn’t spent so much time reading a book that is much too long and never really accomplishes anything. Once again, I know that many people like, or even love this book, but the experience can probably be shared by all, we all have books that disappointed us.

Now that I think about it, it seems strange that I would see this book around so much in the last few weeks because it’s now over two years old. Anyway, I haven’t actually warned anyone yet but one of these days I might not be able to resist the temptation…



  1. Just finish this sentence, “Have you reached that part where…?” and fill in the blank with the ending.
    I suppose you could consider it mean, but then again, maybe it’s humane. 🙂

  2. I’ve often felt that way. A girl in my office was reading THE HISTORIAN a month ago and one day she was gushing about it at lunch. I asked her how far along she was in it, and she said, “Oh, about half-way.” Then she asked, “Have you read it?” When I responded, “Yes,” she asked, “What did you think?”

    It would have been the perfect time for me to tell her that she was wasting her time, but instead I said, “….It was…ok. It could have been better, and I found it a bit disappointing.” She looked a bit dejected at my less than stellar recommendation so I added, “Finish reading it. You’ll see what I mean.”

    Sometimes, you just have to let readers suffer through on their own. Needless to say, she came to me a few weeks later and said, “You were right.” I wasn’t smug enough to tell her, I told you so…but I wanted to. 😉

  3. Kevin – That’s a good idea, but I don’t think I’m that mean, or humane. 🙂

    J.S. Peyton – I bet that must have been disappointing for her to hear your review of it. And I think you’re right, sometimes they just have to get through it themselves, besides they might just like it.

  4. Think of it as part of a reader’s journey. 🙂

    Specifically for The Historian, I had never read the book. I was thinking about it for a while. It was one of those phenomenon in which I kept bumping into the book and it made me feel at a loss not reading it. But I decided against it judging from the huge amount of used copies making their way back to the bookstore in a short period of time after the release.

  5. I was so disappointed in this novel!

  6. fufufufu…I actually do this? Go up to people and say, “stop! what are you doing!” Last year a lot of people around me were picking up books that made me think Bradbury maybe had a clever idea*, and uh–well, I’ve been validated more than people have gotten mad at me for saying, “that book was great…as a doorstop.” This happened to me with The Da Vinci Code, where I was just boggled that it was suddenly EVERYWHERE for about a two months stretch back in January.

    …no offense to anyone who likes The Da Vinci Code.

    It’s really hard to resist. I’ve scared some strangers doing this, so much so my friends won’t even let me approach people reading anymore.

    *not that I’m advocating this sort of book destruction for real, however, since even bad books serve a purpose in the world, even if that purpose is TO be bad.

  7. Matt – Yeah, we all read books that aren’t very good and they probably have something to contribute as well as the ones we like.

    Bybee – So was I. It started off well but left me very dissatisfied.

    Renay – I don’t even come close to having the guts to do something like that. And I don’t understand the appeal of The Da Vinci Code either, no idea why it was/is so popular, Dan Brown is a pretty terrible writer.

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