Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It Was a Cold, Dark Night

I have always been leery of what I call, hyper-popular books. Why? Because I often find that these books are short on good writing and long on fluff. Is there anything wrong with fluff? No! Absolutely not and I think any book that gets people to realize that they actually like reading is good. It's just that sometimes books like that are hard for me to enjoy.

I want a lot from a book. I want the to writing to be compelling, innovative, and without any reference to the trite. I want the language to be beautiful and expressive like a violin concerto. I want to be engaged as a reader by the plot, language and substance of the book. Am I asking a lot from a book? Probably.

I resisted reading Harry Potter until well after book 4 had come out because I was skeptical about a book's being able to live up to its hyped-up reputation. Happily for me...JK Rowling is an exceptional author whose language was actually able to do justice to her story and characters. I devoured the Harry Potter books.

It would have been impossible for me not to have heard about the now very famous Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. But...true to my literary skepticism...I have put off reading these hyper-popular books. My sister emailed me last week and asked if I thought it would be appropriate for her teenaged daughter to read. I had to tell her that I couldn't say for sure since I hadn't actually read them myself and that from what I had heard I really wasn't sure it would be a good thing. And so...in an effort to figure out if these books would be something worthy of my beloved niece's time and mind...I have begun to read, Twilight.

I have no idea what to say about that...but...there you have it.

How do you feel about hyper-popular books? How do you feel about Twilight - without spoilers please :) ? Should my niece read these books? What are your thoughts my dear readers?

16 comments:

candicerail said...

I have to say that the first three books are shallow. I had randomly put them on hold at the library and they came to me all out of order. Because of that, I had little desire to read the the most recent...but I checked it out from the library (I was close to number 2000 on the hold list), and I found that it is a real page turner. More than that, I have enjoyed the Motherhood and Marriage themes that resonated with me.

Good luck.

PS I think that JK Rowling is brilliant. Her characters are excellent, the story is amazing in that details introduced to you in book one emerge in book 7, and it makes me want to be more couragous, loyal, and true.

Amanda said...

I'm still on the "I'm not reading that" kick--just because it's so popular. I guess it's my own way of rebelling somehow. :) My mom just finished the series, having purchased the entire series for my sister, she thought she'd go ahead and read them. I still can't be convinced. Maybe in a few years...

Traci said...

I was leery of this series too. After hearing a lot about them, I decided to read them. I just finished book 3 (Eclipse). They're quite absorbing books - I could barely put them down - but they were a little disturbing for me. I had nightmares after Twilight. I don't know if I'd encourage my teenage daughter (especially a younger teenager)to read them. Not that they're evil or anything, they're just a little mature. And there are so many good books out there! So that's what I think. . .

Debbie said...

Like you, those really popular books often don't make it onto my TBR list simply because they are so popular. I have read the first three Meyer books because my 17 yo daughter was copletely absorbed in them. I also thought they were pretty simplistic. Certainly not the depth of writing and character development of Rowling. And, I don't think it is a spoiler to say I am the only female on the planet who doesn't love Edward. Having said that, I haven't ever censored any books from my kids. I just read the ones I am concerned about and then try to have some dialogue about it with them. Good learning and teaching opportunities.

Richelle said...

I've read the first three, and although I enjoy them, I wouldn't say that I love them. They are engaging and fun, but not on the level of Harry Potter. Bryce actually read them, too, and we decided we probably wouldn't let our teen-age daughters read them (not that they will even still be popular by that time:) ) because she is so clingy and irrationally attracted to Edward. I don't think they have a very healthy relationship. Maybe a more emotionally secure teenager could read it without thinking that is how relationships are supposed to be.
I AM going to read the 4th one as soon as my friend loans it to me, and we all (my friends in book club) are going to go see the movie when it comes out. :)

Leslie said...

Candice - Totally with you on HP & JK Rowling

Amanda - I know how you feel!

Traci - Very good to know - my niece scares easily and sometimes it takes a very long time for her to get over some things.

Debbie - I liked what you said about not censoring their reading - I just want to make sure that this would be appropriate for a young teenager (she's about 13 - but extremely above grade-level in reading) to read now or if she might be better served to wait until she's a little older and more mature before reading the series.

Richelle - Thanks for your input too. And...I'm totally amazed that you got Bryce to read it too! ;)

Chelan said...

You know how I feel about the books :-) (love them!) As far as teenagers go...I guess it depends on what their parents feel comfortable with. If my daughter was a "young" teenager I think I'd tell her to wait until she's a little older. I guess I'd suggest to your sister to read it herself so she can decide how she feels about her daughter reading it.They are really quick books to read.

The Raybould Family said...

Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Yayy! someone else who kinda sorta lives in Rexburg! :)

I've read the first three twice and have read the fourth once. I liked them. I liked the idea's and the storyline. Some of it was a bit boring at times, but over all it was a fun escape from reality. Which is what I look for in fictional books. As for content for a younger girl. I would say, how old is she? Maybe a girl who is older than 16 or 17??

I'm interested to see what you have to say when your done reading them :)

I think I'll be reading your blog from now on, if that's okay.

Millie said...

Hi there.

I paperclipped some of the chapters of the fourth book, to make it appropriate for my teenage kids. It's nothing graphic, but still inappropriate (I felt) for younger readers. Yeah, I know I'm taking a chance that they'll be dishonorable and peek, but if it were that smutty I wouldn't have the book in my house.

It took me FOREVER to get into this series just because I'm not a bandwagon-er. Once I first read Twilight - boy, did I feel dumb. I love these books. :) They may not be Dickens or Hemingway but as an escape, they totally work. They're fun, exciting, sweet and most of all, CLEAN.

Summer said...

Well I'm guessing you didn't read any of my reviews so you wouldn't get any spoilers. Here's what I think in a nutshell:

They're enjoyable enough. Meyer is a good story teller and very talented at capturing the angst and emotion of the teenage heart. Would I let my teenage daughter read them? Only if she were at least 16 or had a higher maturity level than that of most giddy teenage girls. Even then I would definitely discuss the books with her afterward and talk about what is and is not appropriate and realistic in a relationship. And what love really is. Because in my opinion, Bella and Edward don't have a clue.

Amanda said...

P.S. If your neice is looking for a good book series, I recommend the Bayern Series by Shannon Hale. It's made up of The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, and River Secrets. I LOVED it. Actually, anything Shannon Hale, (except Austinland), I think is a great read for Young Women aged girls.

raybee said...

I'm very anxious to hear what you think of Twilight - I've put off reading them because a friend with rather discerning literary taste suggested that the quality of the writing was not good. I am intrigued though. I'll wait for your appraisal . . .

Adam and Kristina said...

Leslie, I just hopped over from The Raybould Family's blog, and decided to comment.

You will notice my little picture. It is very tongue in cheek. I read the first two, and couldn't muster any motivation or desire to read the last two, but I did read only plot summaries.

I think they would probably be OK for your niece. I don't think they are particularly well written or engaging, and I really, really hate all the hype surrounding them, but for a teenage girl, she would probably like them.

Just my two cents!

McEwens said...

Havent read them... but everyone else seems to enjoy them

An Ordinary Mom said...

I am really curious to see what you think about this series.

I put off reading these books for awhile, but I finally decided I wanted to see what the hype was all about, especially since my younger siblings and sister-in-laws were so into them. I have to admit I enjoyed them and read them quite quickly (although it took my longer to get hooked during the 4th one).

With that said, I don't necessarily think these were the best written books in the world, and some of the themes and relationships portrayed are a bit skewed from reality, but then what book isn't? I think I would let my teenage daughter read this and after she was done, I would make sure I discussed what healthy relationships are about. I think it would be a great way to get a good discussion going. Also, the 4th book delves into a lot more themes and principles that would be interesting to discuss with teenagers (honesty, seeking truth, respecting others, etc.). I taught high school for awhile, and it always seems easier to discuss these things when you can find something they are truly interested in.

Just my two cents worth :) !!

Sarah said...

Hi. I found your blog through my friend Jenny's (I think--you know how it goes). I agree with most of the the comments re the Twilight series. They're just okay. IMO, the first one is the best. I have painfully read the others, and I think each one is a step down from the one before. I'm 2/3 of the way through #4, and I am considering quitting. I never do that, but it really is killing me (and my reading as I'm putting off other books I enjoy much more) to get through it! Sorry to be a hater to all the Twilight groupies, but it hasn't worked for me.
As for the HP books, I gave up on those too because it was taking waaaaay too long between book. Now that they're all out, I may try again. Maybe when my kiddos are old enough to be a part of it too.