I’ve always been hesitant to read ‘trending’ books. In high school and college, it was because I was on a constant classic literature kick and thought the only things worth reading were listed on a syllabus somewhere.
As a sophomore in college, I thought Harry Potter was for children. But then, while stuck at my British aunt’s house for a couple weeks in between semesters, I happened upon the first three books and figured ‘why not?’
As you can imagine, I devoured them in days and faithfully read and watched every book and movie of the series.
I thought Twilight was a L.J. Smith cop-off and would never be as good as the original Vampire Diaries Trilogy I read in my early teens. But then my mother read the first book on a plane-ride over to visit me here in France and left the book behind with the recommendation that I give it a try.
I’ll be honest. I wasn’t impressed. I thought the writing was clunky and the plot was non-existent...at first. But that didn’t change the fact I couldn’t put it down. And, as you may have guessed, I went on to read and watch every book and movie of the series.
Then comes The Hunger Games. I really really didn’t want to read the series, mostly because I was on a ‘happy, upbeat romantic comedy’ kick and wasn’t at all in the mood for what the violent premise had to offer. I read the first chapter and hated it. It was too dark and dreary.
But then I picked it up a couple months later when I was left with nothing else to read and made myself get through the first three chapters. And again, I found I couldn’t put it down and went on to read every book and watch the movie.
My husband brought home Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, about six months ago. A client at the hotel had left it behind and he likes to bring home books in English for me whenever this happens (cause he’s awesome like that). However, when I saw the title, I grimaced and placed it promptly on my bookshelf, holding it by the rim like it was some kind of writhing snake and knowing that I’d probably never crack the cover.
Oh hell no!
You see, I was hell bent on never EVER reading Fifty Shades of Grey. The reviews from fellow writer friends had been terrible. Even my mother, who read every book, told me ‘They’re not good books. There’s really no value to be gained. But once you start, you can’t seem to stop.”
But then, my kindle broke.
And I finished all the hardcovers in my to-be-read pile.
And I received the first book of Fifty Shades of Grey for Christmas. While I put it off, eventually, well, I ran out of books to read.
Which is how I now find myself in the middle of the second book. And I’ll probably break down and read the third, too. *sigh*
My mother was absolutely right. She often is.
Now, with books like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, it’s easy to see why they became trending best sellers. You can find everything you want in those books- good writing, characters, themes, plots, etc...
But with books like Twilight and Fifty Shades, the draw is something completely different. Both good and bad things can be said. I think it’s hard to put your finger on, but when push comes to shove, I think there’s something highly addictive in losing yourself in someone else’s less-than-mundane life, even if their personality isn’t particularly unique or interesting.
Why do you think some books achieve trending status? Is it different for every book? Or is there one steady must-have principle that keeps people coming back for more? Do you find yourself automatically reading trending books out of curiosity? Never read them? Or dig your heels but eventually read them anyway?