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for me and not for me
that is the question... that should help me decide if I should drop $28 on a hardback from an author I usually love!
It’s taken a while. Ok, I still mess it up. But there are book plots, tropes, topics, even structures that are just not for me.
Doesn’t matter if they’re well done. Doesn’t matter if everyone else loves them. Doesn’t even matter if the author is a friend. For me, some things are non-starters, and if I want to insist on trying anyway I better dip my toe in wisely.
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So if you don’t like dual POV, The Chicken Sisters isn’t going to be for you. If you don’t like a first person POV, stay away from In Her Boots. And if you don’t like books about witches, honey, it’s OKAY. Leave Playing the Witch Card right there on the shelf. (But if you do… pre-order now if you haven’t already! Target and Barnes and Noble are watching those numbers and making their stocking decisions….)
This is why it pays to actually pay attention to what you either DNF or, if you are a person who can’t bear to leave a book unfinished, drag yourself through reluctantly, cursing all the way. I adored Emily Henry’s Beach Read (I think it’s literally the perfect rom-com) and loved Book Lovers too, so I couldn’t figure out why I was resisting buying Happy Place until I remembered: I don’t like dual timelines in contemporary books! (As in, alternating chapters in the character’s immediate past, telling the story of how they got to pretty much where the present chapters start.)
Similarly, I don’t like a Groundhog Day plot—so no matter how much I enjoyed Emma Straub’s The Vacationers, This Time Tomorrow isn’t for me. In both cases, the problem isn’t the book. Or even me, as much as I would love to quote Taylor Swift here. There is no problem. Only preferences—and if you love either dual timeline or Groundhog Day, I’d bet on those boats to totally satisfy.
I love having figured this out. There are a lot of books out there. If I already know I’m not a fan of omniscient POVs, coming-of-age stories or infidelity plots, I can pick something I will love (all the city mouse in the country stories, writers behaving badly, miserable academics and celebrities who hate their fame, yes please). If enough people beg me to try something that’s not-for-me, I’ll download the free chapter, hit up the library or borrow your copy—but 99% of the time I’m still right.
So—if you don’t pay attention to trends in your reading life, here’s a reason why you should! I’d love to hear what “kinds” of books don’t float your reading boat and why.
What DID bring me reading joy lately?
The Happy Life of Isadora Bentley. I know, I know… SO MANY BOOKS WITH THAT TITLE STRUCTURE. But it tells you something—you can expect to have fun, to roll along with a character fighting change and then finding it, and that the romance, if there is any, is secondary. I told you I don’t like coming-of-age, and I don’t. But I do like coming-into-one’s-real-self for older characters, especially if they’ve bought into being rejected because they are quirky or neurodivergent. And honestly, I’d probably read anything that involved someone following a list of 31 things that will make you happier. I like happy books, I like people getting happier, I like lists… What more can I say? First person POV and a very funny voice here, too.
First—you know I loved The Candid Life of Meena Dave. Namrata Patel’s next book, Scent of a Garden, comes out June 13. I’m lucky enough to have an early copy (which I haven’t started yet) and you could be too, if you win the Goodreads giveaway! These are super low stakes for readers. All that happens is you may get a notification when the book publishes—and you entering is great for an author. The more entries, the more buzz and the more Goodreads folks who will be shown the book! Enter HERE.
Second: Ok, you could win a whole PILE of books (of which I have read exactly one and I enjoyed it) including In Her Boots (not the one I read) and what they describe as “Oprah’s Book Club Swag”. This giveaway has absolutely zero to do with Oprah. The hope is to collect email addresses for authors to add to their email lists, and they’ll be wanting to add yours to all of these. But it’s optional. You can actually enter without signing up for ANY. Or you can pick and choose. Or just unsubscribe, which about half of people do, which is fine with us authors, who don’t want to bug people who don’t want to hear from us. Ok you can enter that HERE.
That’s it from me this week!
Oh! if you’re not already a subscriber YOU SHOULD BE.