Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Favorite Books Are Like My Favorite People

Have you ever read a scathing review for a book you adore? Or wondered how someone can simply say "Meh..." after reading one of your favorite works of fiction?

I have. Lots of times.

What do you mean the book is boring?

Well, I know the author uses too many adverbs, but...but!

Sure, the author gets a little carried away with description, but the story is so moving.

Sound familiar?

My favorite books are like my favorite people. They have qualities that draw me to them that far outshine whatever flaws they have. But beyond that, there is that magical something that makes us connect.

I'll use my hubby as an example. He has been my favorite person since right after we met. I found him attractive, he made me laugh, he was a gentleman, he loved Jesus. As I got to know him I saw his work ethic, the way he interacted with children and helped strangers, his love and respect for his parents. All admirable qualities that stood out to me more than any of his flaws. But if we hadn't connected on a deeper level, then to me he would have been just another great guy. Someone I liked. A friend, but not my husband.

Isn't that how it is with books? There are so many books that I've read and enjoyed. I'd recommend them. I'd give them four stars on goodreads. I might even read them again some day. But in the end, they end up on the "great guy" shelf.

Then there are times when reading a book is like meeting someone who's perfectly friendly, but for whatever reason I'm just not interested in hanging out with them socially. Maybe they have some traits that I find annoying. Or maybe our personalities just don't mesh. To someone else, that book is their favorite. Maybe they read it over and over. But for me, I'd probably give it three stars and then stash it in the giveaway pile. Sometimes this happens with books I really wanted to love, and when that happens it's a huge disappointment.

But, when it comes to reading, nothing is more disappointing than a book that feels like spending time with the meanest kid in gym class. A book whose flaws overshadow any of its good qualities. A book that is simply impossible to like, and would be lucky to receive a two-star rating on goodreads. And yet, even that book has someone who calls it "favorite."

With time, even the meanest kid in gym class might turn out to be a great guy. But with books, what you see is pretty much what you get. Sure, you may be able to dig a little deeper to discover why a book is a considered a "masterpiece" despite your personal opinion about it. But it will probably never be your best friend. And when you're finished with it, you can put it aside and read something else.

Because it is, after all, just a book.


  1. I totally enjoyed your essay on books, Rebecca, thank you! I am listening to a J fiction audio book, Counting on Grace, that is drawing me in more deeply each time to her life and to her. Also, since it is historical fiction it teaches well about another time, another place...

    I "abandoned" an adult fiction book recently that had been recommended because it did feel like that bully on the playground...

    Books we love: For many of us we form with them an intense relationship...

  2. I've abandoned a book a couple of times in the past. Sometimes it just isn't worth the struggle!


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