ON BEING THE BLACK SHEEP READER
Yesterday’s Top Ten Tuesday post prompted bloggers to write about books that they liked more or less than they thought they would. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m the black sheep on a LOT of books! By this point in time in my “reading career”, I know what kind of books I like, what genres I prefer, what writing styles I don’t get along with, etc… but sometimes you just don’t know that a writing style or a character flaw or a huge red flag will throw you off until you start reading. If it’s not a book that’s been getting a ton of attention, I’ll usually DNF or put it to the side and check out reviews some time in the future but for many big-name authors or highly hyped books, I end up asking myself what’s wrong with me and why I didn’t like this book as much as the rest of the world.
Being the black sheep can kind of suck. A lot. I’m okay with being the one that doesn’t like what everyone else does. There are plenty of things that I’m not keen on that the world seems to love and it doesn’t bother me: Football. The color pink. Songs on the radio. Shopping. Makeup. I couldn’t care less to be in the minority there… but when it’s books it’s just… different. I actually don’t mind being in the minority on a book and being the one who didn’t like it when everyone else did but the real sting happens because I actually care about what other people are reading. I want to like the same books as my best friends — I mean, I met them through blogging and books are how we met and something that we bond about every single day — so when my friends love something and I don’t, it’s more personal than me just having a different taste than everyone else. You don’t have to like all of the same things as your friends but when they’re passionate about something and you’re not, being the black sheep feels even worse. (And then I’m afraid my friends are going to dump me.)
Aside from being the odd man out, sometimes I feel just plain uncouth. I’ve tried many, many times and I’m just not a person who connects with certain reading styles or trying to read some classics (again). When I’m the odd person out on a book that had beautiful writing, I can see that it’s there but it’s just not something I connect with. I can certainly appreciate an author’s writing style and I’m not a person who needs action for a book to be interesting or moving, but there are some styles that I just don’t click with and I feel just plain dumb when I don’t. I end up feeling like my friends are so much more sophisticated for enjoying those styles while I allow myself to be swept away in an action-packed fantasy or fluffy contemporary novel. And I know, I know, we all read what we want and no shame in that, and I really don’t have shame in what I enjoy reading. Sometimes I just feel ashamed when I don’t enjoy something and like I really should have loved it too. (Thankfully my friends haven’t left me yet so that’s good.)
Then there are the times where I feel just plain crazy being the black sheep on a book. Or rather, I ask myself, is everyone else crazy? I don’t feel bad when I don’t enjoy a book because of poor plot structure, undeveloped characters, or cheesy romances but then I wonder how so many people loved the same book and rated it five stars when I rated it two or three. These are the moments that stump me the most. I know not everyone will enjoy a book but five stars??? Versus my two/three??? How did these people enjoy this book so much and I didn’t? I guess a lot of it has to do with personal preference, of course, and a lot of my reading experiences really have to do with timing. Books that I read early on in my blogging career were easy, fun, and exciting in many cases because I hadn’t read anything like them.
TWILIGHT was great when I was a teenager because it was popular, dramatic, and I hadn’t read a book about vampires before. SWEET EVIL was like, the best book ever when I read it and as the years went by and I tried to continue the series, I easily fell out of love with writing, concept, and pretty much everything about it, not even making it to the last book. I read these at points in my life that were perfect moments to read these books and if I read them now, they would be cheesy and I’m sure I wouldn’t love them at all like I had all those years ago. And maybe this is the case with all of these books that people are enjoying that I’m not. Maybe these people are reading them at a good time in their life and these are moments when they’re just enjoying a book and not really caring about plot holes or cheesy moments. I know I do that a lot with books — if I’m really enjoying something, I just roll with it and don’t even care if an author uses the wrong scientific term or forgot that something happened three years ago and not five. Then there are the books where a red flag throws me off in the very beginning and I pick everything else apart from there.
It’s not that I need to fit in with every book but sometimes it’s hard being the opposite of a crowd when it’s something that’s so popular! Seeing merch everywhere for the book, raving reviews, reading updates… it’s all just so… blah and makes me wish that I at least liked it a little bit so I could understand where everyone is coming from. Thankfully, I know myself well enough that I like what I like and I don’t what I don’t and I don’t have to “fit in” with the crowd, even if it means I’m the crazy one who didn’t like the new hit release!
The one shining moment about being the black sheep on a book is when you find other black sheep. We don’t need to fit in but there is some validation of your reactions and feelings and it’s like WOOOOO! Someone else who agrees! I know plenty of us are happy to be ourselves or even to go against the grain but deep down, it’s human nature to want to connect with someone and enjoy the same things that someone else does. Find another black sheep to rant and revel with can be a glorious moment when you find it, so there’s always at least one silver lining in those black sheep reads!