We see it all the time: books that come seemingly from out of nowhere to find their way on practically everyone's shelves and become bestsellers almost overnight. I've often wondered how others react to this phenomenon. Do you immediately run out to grab your copy and devour it? Do you wait awhile until some of the hype dies down (or until you get a positive review from a trusted source) to give the book a try? Or do you write it off altogether because of the hype?
I'd say that I fall pretty consistently into the middle category. It is rare that I will run out to get a copy of a book the moment it starts appearing everywhere I look. I didn't start reading the Harry Potter series until the fourth book was out. In fact, I distinctly remember holding my nose up at the books, eyeing them with disdain. Ha! What did I know? The turning point for me was seeing an interview with J. K. Rowling and I had to admit, I was tempted... those books sounded like they would be right up my alley. So, I swallowed my pride, went way out on a limb, jumped in with both feet, however you want to call it, bought all four books, and promptly devoured them within a week's time.
Most recently, I stuck to my "wait and see policy" with The Hunger Games, which I mentioned in my "musings on a re-read" post a few days ago. Not surprisingly, I was very skeptical when I kept seeing that book appear on blog after blog. All I could think at the time was: is everyone getting this book from the author/publisher and feeling obligated to tout it as the best book they'd ever read? Seriously, I couldn't go to a book blog without seeing some kind of post about this book -- it was in someone's mailbox, teasered on Tuesdays, given 5 out of 5 stars, and on and on. It took me awhile to give in -- I think after breaking down and buying a copy it still sat on my shelf for quite some time, mocking me. Of course, wouldn't you know by the time I gave it a chance I loved it? And gave it my own freakin' 5 star review? And so I promptly found myself with everyone else, anxiously waiting for the remaining two books to be published.
I swear, if I was smart, I'd just wait to start reading a series once all of the books have been published and do away with this whole "waiting impatiently for the next book" business. But if I haven't learned my lesson yet, I doubt I ever will...
In general, I have to admit that I have ended up enjoying most of the hyped-up books I have eventually come to read. Probably the most notable exception are the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. I tried to like them, I really did. I gave the series three books, dammit. The whole experience probably should have ended with a DNF on the first book. It's like I thought there must be something wrong with me for not liking these books. Well, the third time wasn't the charm, so I threw in the towel and just admitted what I probably knew in my heart after the first book: these books are just not for me. I'm sure there are other hyped-up books that fell flat for me, but it's late and right now I'm coming up with a whole lot of nothing.
I suppose what got me pondering this topic to the point of writing about it here is the recent craze over the Shades of Grey books by E. L. James. For awhile, I waffled back and forth over whether or not I'd ever read these. This time, I don't see myself buying into the hype, though. Oh, I've read my fair share of romance novels, so it's not like I haven't been exposed to sex scenes, but somehow the way these books are portrayed, they just seem so unappealing to me. It doesn't sound like romance to me and if I'm going to read about sex, there has to be a good romance behind it for me to enjoy it. I'm not even going to get into the whole topic of the books originally being written as Twilight fan fiction. (Yes, I gave into the Twilight hype and I confess I did enjoy reading those books for the story that was told, but let's all be honest here, we aren't talking about books that are going to win any major literary awards, am I right?) OK, I guess I lied and did get into the Twilight fan fiction subject a little bit, but that's it, I promise. I've seen enough reviews of Shades of Grey that bemoan the writing and other niggling points, so I really don't think that all the gushing reviews about the story and the sex will weaken my resolve not to read these books at this point. (Of course, if that changes, feel free to call me out and remind me about this post, I would totally deserve it.)
What about you? How do you react to these books that explode in popularity?