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Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Discussion: Meh Books

One of my favorite things each week is the NY Times Magazine "Meh" list.  If you are unfamiliar with it, click here, but basically, each week the New York Times Magazine has a list of the things that week that were not great, not terrible, but just in the middle. Our whole family, even the kids, like to see what is deemed "meh" each week.  We find it amusing.

However, when I think about "meh" as it could refer to books...that is not as fun.  If I read a book and love it, I know exactly who else to suggest it too.  On the other hand, if I really hate a book, I usually can figure out why I disliked it and turn that into figure out which patron would love it. Feeling strongly about a book makes me think about what kind of reader to give it to.

But what about when I finish a book, and all I feel is...meh.  This is hard.  Who do I give it to? How do I talk about the book.

When I went back and looked on my Shelfari to see some books that I was conflicted about in the past, I saw two things.  First, I really don't suggest these books very often.  I hand sell way more books I have hated than those I have been meh about. Second, when I do suggest these books, I do it with a lot more hesitation.

Take One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.  This might be my ultimate meh book.  I liked it as I read it, but I really felt the ending was weak. It was as if Divakaruni just stopped writing.  If the book hadn't been as strong, maybe the ending wouldn't have been so troubling.  It might have been an outright dislike for me.  But instead, it gets a "meh."

I know lots of readers who would enjoy 90% of this book, but I am hesitant to tell them to read it knowing they will probably close it feeling similarly to me.

As a result, I never offer this novel to readers.  Instead, I only talk about it if the patron asks directly about it.  And to them I say, it is a novel filled with stories the characters tell about one amazing thing from their lives.  Some of the stories are mesmerizing, the characters are interesting, but the ending left me feeling cheated.

Not a big endorsement, but I can't give the book out without this warning.

I know this has happened to others out there. I need a better solution for to how to sell meh books. So, I am asking for your help.

For today's Monday Discussion, tell me how you talk about those books that leave you stuck in a "meh" kind of mood.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.


Donna said...

So on Goodreads these would be 2-star books for me (It was OK). I don't give many books 2 stars because if it hasn't caught my attention I usually just quit reading. Good books with bad endings might be in this category (or a 1 star if a really bad ending). I usually won't suggest these books to patrons and if asked will them them what it's about without trying to give my opinion. Sometimes I ask them to come back and tell me about it.

John BPL RA said...

I guess you wouldn't have to try very hard to sell this particular book since it was so popular but I really thought 50 Shades of Grey was a Meh book. It should have been called 50 Flavors of Vanilla.

Carey Gibbons said...

As a writer, I've always said I would rather have people hate my work than feel indifferent it. The same can be said for stuff I read. I would so much rather be passionate about a book, even if the passion comes from dislike.