Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Living Up to Expectations

I really cannot count the times that I've read rave reviews for a book, been super excited to read it and then been really disappointed. It's especially embarrassing if I've talked my wonderful book group into reading it and then hate it and have to apologize to them.

Case in point: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. People were rapturous about this book. A man popped out between shelves in a bookstore to tell me what a fabulous book it was when I was thinking about buying it. He didn't even work there. He was just a guy. It was a good book. It wasn't a great book. Or I simply didn't totally get it. It meandered. It was confusing. It was an enjoyable read, but not life changing.

Kate Atkinson's Case Histories is another one. I liked it. I would even recommend it. People went nuts about that book, though, and I don't really know why.

Which brings me now to Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. It shows up on a bunch of top 10 lists. Reviews raved. I talked my book club into reading it. I just got it from the library and started it last week.

It is freaking awesome. Awesome sauce on awesome ice cream with a fabulous cherry on top. Maybe even whipped awesome.

The story is moving and timely and thought-provoking. The language is gorgeous. I find myself rereading sentences because they're so terrific. I feel elevated just by reading it. Amazing.

What's your experience been? I'm betting everyone has a few books that haven't lived up to expectations. How about some of the books that have lived up to your hopes and dreams?


Anonymous said...

Eileen, I have the same problem. When people rave about something I go in with such high expectations that the book rarely lives up to the hype.

Eileen said...

This was one time that it really has, though. So good.

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