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Why Should I Read This? Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

January 19, 2020

I haven’t read any bestselling fiction from 2019 yet.  Maybe a book blogger shouldn’t admit something like that.  I’m supposed to keep up with all the novels and all the latest publishing trends, but books take a long time to read, and publishing companies keep churning out stuff faster than readers can read them.

Sometimes I think I should have chosen to be a movie vlogger instead.  They have it easy.  They can watch a movie in two hours and be an expert.  If a movie weekend is slow, movie vloggers can even critique trailers.  I’ve seen 20 minute videos critiquing two-minute movie trailers.  I haven’t watched any of them; I have just seen that these videos exist.

Anyway, book reviewers have to finish entire books, and that takes time.  We can’t even critique book trailers because every book trailer sucks, so it’s pointless to critique them..  Even trailers for great books suck.

If I decide to read a bestselling novel from 2019, it would be Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.  You don’t have to convince me.  I’ve already convinced myself.  For one, it sold more copies than any other book in 2019.  It sold more ebooks and more audiobooks, at least according to Publishers Weekly ( read more here )… if you trust them.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t read books just because a lot of other people read them.  But when a book sells that many copies, a book blogger probably should look into it.

I read Michelle Obama’s Becoming because it was so popular, but also because my wife had two copies and never got around to reading it.  I figured since we had spent our own money on it, one of us ought to read it.  My wife hasn’t even bought one copy of Where the Crawdads Sing, but it still outsold Becoming, so there’s that.

Early in 2019, I reviewed the first chapter of Where the Crawdads Sing.  I read the free sample on my e-reader and wrote about how well-written the setting was.  Then I compared it to the setting in a James Patterson book.  Maybe that wasn’t a good approach.  Every author looks good when compared to James Patterson, except maybe James Patterson’s coauthors.

One reason I don’t read current bestsellers is that they’re overpriced and they’re always checked out at the library (I guess that’s two reasons).  Now that the book is older, it will be more available and paperbacks or secondhand copies will be easier to find.  Being a cheapskate is no longer a reason.

That does it!  I’ve convinced myself.  I will find a way to read Where the Crawdads Sing without spending a bunch of money.

Here’s what I thought about Where the Crawdads Sing when I read the first chapter last year.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens- A Lesson on How to Write Setting

Setting can be tough for an author.  If you write too much, you can make the reader bored.  If you don’t write enough, the story can feel incomplete.

Getting the setting wrong can ruin a book for a reader.  My teenage daughter complains that too many pages in classic literature are devoted to descriptions of place.  She already knows what all that stuff looks like, she says.  I remind her that the internet didn’t exist when classic literature was written, so stuff had to be described.  Back then, literature was relatively new.  There were places, people, and ideas that had never been put into words before.  A lot was new.

When it comes to words and ideas, not so much is new today.  Almost everything has been described.  It’s difficult to come up with new was to say the same thing.  But it’s lazy to not try.  I respect any current author who tries.

Read more here!

It was easy to persuade me to read Where the Crawdads Sing, but other novels might be more difficult.  Here’s a novel that could have appealed to me, except it… it… it… didn’t.  I’m not sure anybody could persuade me to read it now.

Why Should I Read This? Ulysses by James Joyce

I should have known from the cover that this book wasn't about Roman mythology.

I should have known from the cover that this book wasn’t about Roman mythology.

When it comes to reading classic literature, there are a lot of challenges.  The writing style from novels published generations ago can confuse today’s readers.  Some of the books have lots of references that today’s readers don’t understand.  And a lot of those classic novels are just too long for our short attention spans.  Any one of those challenges can deter people like me from trying a book.  But when a novel is challenging on every level, I know I’m screwed.

The worst of all of these classic novels might be Ulysses by James Joyce.  I don’t know if Ulysses really is the worst of all the tough classic novels because I haven’t read most of the tough classic novels.  I’ve been told it’s not fair to judge a book that you haven’t read, but I disagree.  You can judge most books within a few pages, if you can make it that far.  I’ve read the first few pages of Ulysses, and I know I don’t want to read it anymore.

I’ve never heard anybody say that they actually liked Ulysses.  Supposedly, Vladimir Nabokov said it was brilliant, but he wrote Lolita, so he’s a literary author and his opinion doesn’t count. Besides, I’ve never seen video of Nabokov saying Ulysses was brilliant, so I don’t necessarily believe that he said it.

Read more here!

Yeah, yeah, I know everybody is tired of A Game of Thrones.  The television series is over, Season 8 was a disastrous letdown, and everybody is emotionally done with it.  Even fans of the books are pretty sure that the author George R.R. Martin will never finish writing his own series.  He’s too busy blogging, going to fan conventions, and writing histories of his fictional world.  Still, maybe there’s a case for reading the books.

Why Should I Read This? A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

 At least Ned Stark doesn’t have to read all seven books to find out what happens to him.

At least Ned Stark doesn’t have to read all seven books to find out what happens to him.

No matter what time of year it is, people who watch Game of Thrones like to talk about Game of Thrones.  It can be annoying to the innocent bystanders who don’t watch it.  Even worse are the book snobs who have read the books and watch the show.  The book snobs have had an advantage for years because they’ve known what was going to happen on the show and would like to sprinkle spoiler hints just to piss off the rest of us who haven’t read the books.

Just so you know, I have nothing against book snobs.  I was a book snob when the Lord of the Rings movies came out.  And I’m still a comic book snob when it comes to superhero movies.  I’ve bored many non-comic book readers about how the movies are different from the original comic books.  I’ve lost friendships over it, and I don’t even have many friends.  So being a book snob isn’t necessarily meant as a negative.

As much as I respect them, it’s fun to annoy the book snobs by calling the book series A Game of Thrones.  A Game of Thrones is the name of the first book, the book snobs keep telling me.  The name of the entire series is A Song of Ice and Fire.  The book snobs are right, but they don’t need to remind me every time I mention the Game of Thrones books.  Everybody knows what I mean.  If I say A Song of Ice and Fire, a bunch of people who know about the Game of Thrones TV show but don’t give a crap about the books won’t know what I’m talking about.

Read more here!

What do you think?  What books have you vowed to never read?  What bestselling novels from 2019 are worth reading?  Is anything from 2020 any good?  Does anybody want to persuade me to NOT read Where the Crawdads Sing?

  1. Where the Crawdads Sing is definitely worth reading. I join you in never reading Ulysses. After reading several of Joyce’s shorter works in undergrad, I vowed never to read him again unless forced to, and since I have no plans to return to school (and wouldn’t be taking English courses if I did), I can comfortably say I can avoid his work forever.

    • “…since I have no plans to return to school (and wouldn’t be taking English courses if I did), I can comfortably say I can avoid his work forever.”

      That’s a great relief!

      The worst part of school (besides sitting for long periods of time and paying lots of money and going into debt anyway) was being required to read books that somebody else said were really important.

  2. I wonder what a crowded is. Something that sings, or in legend might be expected to sing, in a certain place… Maybe should just buy the book. I carried Ulysses around with me for months in the seventies, along with a cheap guitar I was hoping somebody would teach me to play. Only read Molly Bloom’s soliloquy at the end, because it was supposed to be rude. Can’t remember if it was…

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