Book Recommendations That Get Ignored
I don’t know why, but I get annoyed when somebody tells me how great a book is. It’s probably a character flaw on my part. The person recommending a book is sharing (I despise the word “share,” so that might be part of it) something personal when he/she makes the recommendation, so my automatic rejection is irrational and rude (even though I don’t mean to be).
Maybe it’s the way the recommendation is phrased. Maybe it’s just me getting cranky as I get older. But when a friend makes a wildly enthusiastic book recommendation, I feel the urge to make a snide comment (and I don’t normally make snide comments). Here are some of the snide comments I don’t make:
Friend: “You’ll love this book.”
Me: “Don’t tell me what I’ll love.”
Friend: “This is the best book ever!”
Me: “You’ve read every book ever?”
Friend: “This book speaks to me!”
Me: “Now books are talking to you. At least the voices in my head belong to me.”
For whatever reason, I get defensive whenever somebody tells me how much they love a book (or movie, or TV show). It might be because nobody listens to my recommendations. I read (or pretend to read, but they don’t know that) a lot of books. I don’t recommend a book unless I actually finish it. Finishing a book, that’s the highest compliment I can pay to a book, but it’s only been recently that I’ve begun admitting to my intellectual friends that I don’t finish books. They’re taking it well. Most of them are still talking to me.
Anyway, I don’t think anybody I’ve talked to about books has ever read the books I recommend. The books that I recommend (but nobody reads) are Bernard Cornwell’s King Arthur Warlord trilogy(The Winter King, The Enemy of God, and Excalibur) . Yeah, I know, another trilogy. But this one was written almost twenty years ago, when trilogies were still trilogies but not quite as… trilogy-ish (I hope people know what I mean). I really enjoyed reading these books. I reread sections of them about once a year. Whenever I recommend a book (or series) to a friend, this is the one.
But I don’t think anybody has ever taken me up on my recommendation. Maybe nobody wants to read another King Arthur book. There were a bunch of them before I even discovered this trilogy. There was L’Morte D’Arthur, The Once and Future King, The Crystal Cave series, The Mists of Avalon, and bunch of other stuff that’s usually from Merlin’s point of view.
Plus, Bernard Cornwell is a hack. He writes way too much stuff now. He wrote maybe twenty Sharpe novels about the Napoleonic Wars. I’ve read a bunch of them (and always enjoyed them), but I couldn’t tell you the names of any of them or what happened. They were all the same book. Bernard Cornwell inspired my reading rule where I don’t read more than three books by the same author anymore. He’s that guy. He’s that kind of hack. But his King Arthur trilogy was great. He is a potentially great author who went bad.
Despite my glowing reviews, nobody I know will read these books. Maybe it’s the King Arthur thing. Maybe it’s my monotone voice. Even when I’m excited, I still sound bored. If I sound bored, then no wonder I can’t convince anybody to read the books I like.
Some books are easy to recommend because they’re already really popular. The Harry Potter books are safe. John Green’s The Fault in our Stars seems to be an easy pick. The Cat who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest books were hot a couple years ago. By easy picks, I don’t mean bad. I mean… easy. You probably won’t get burned if the person you recommend them to doesn’t like them. After all, how can millions of other positive reviews be wrong? If somebody doesn’t like a Harry Potter book, it’s that person’s fault, not the fault of the person who recommended it. But a Bernard Cornwell King Arthur trilogy that nobody I know has ever heard of? That’s a risky set of books to recommend.
What books do you love that nobody else seems to read? I know I’m a hypocrite for asking this question, but I don’t believe hypocrisy is that big a character flaw; it’s almost impossible for a human to be 100% consistent on everything. Anyway, I’m asking, so I promise not to get annoyed if you tell me it’s the BEST BOOK EVER, or if it speaks to you, or if I really have to read it. I won’t even get annoyed if you use the word “share” (or “sharing”). And if I get annoyed, I won’t mention it.
So… what books do you love but can’t convince anybody else to read?