April 24, 2014 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm
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Today I’m going to talk about a pet peeve of mine when it comes to books, the hype machine. I’m sure you know what I mean, but for those of you who don’t it’s the buildup and hype that surrounds a book around its release date. All the marketing, the reviews and blog posts, the Twitter and Facebook posts – it’s relentless and seemingly never ending. For some people, it only helps enhance their experience when they read the book; for me, it has the opposite effect.
Take Fangirl for instance, released in September 2013 and written by the wonderful Rainbow Rowell. I had read Attachments earlier in the year and had been eagerly awaiting the release of Fangirl. It wasn’t released in Australia at that time, but I knew I was going to be in the US at the time of release, and intended to buy a copy there. In the meantime, I waited and I read COUNTLESS reviews. Now, I follow hundreds of book blogs and it seemed like all of them were reviewing Fangirl at the time, and all of them were so glowing in their praise. Between the shouty caps and all the feels and all the awesome sentiment, I became even more eager to read the book and quickly snapped up a copy on my last day in the US. And then, a funny thing happened. I became too scared to read it – I started, got a few pages in, and put it down. I haven’t picked it up since, although in the 7 months that have followed I’m finally feeling removed from the hype and I might give it another crack soon.
This is not the first time this has happened; I have many books sitting on my shelves that I’ve yet to read but just HAD to buy at the time of release. I’ve also pushed on and read books that in the end didn’t live up to the hype, the most recent one being Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando. I touch on it in my review, but ultimately I was built up to expect that Roomies was going to be the BEST BOOK EVER, but it didn’t reach those heights for me. I also know that I’m guilty of hyping up books on occasion, you only need to read my review of On the Jellicoe Road to see that, but I like to think that’s the exception for me.
I guess it was Debby from Snuggly Oranges that really got me thinking about the effect hype has on me as a reader; she wrote a great post on this topic last month, and I agree wholeheartedly with everything she’s said. Check it out because she makes some really valid points. I thought it was me going crazy but I’m glad I’m not alone in this! I’ve also taken some of her strategies on board, and I’ve implemented some of my own to try and combat this.
Like Debby, I agree that I cannot read super hyped up books during the hype wave; I’m better off reading them before the hype machine works it’s magic (which isn’t always possible) or long after it has passed, as in the case of Fangirl. However, a lot of the time I don’t want to wait to read a book that I’ve been anticipating – I’m a bit impatient like that! So what I’m doing at the moment is avoiding book blog reviews until after I’ve read the book in question. If it’s something I’m not sure about, I might read one or two from book bloggers I REALLY trust, because that can help me decide whether or not I want to read a book, and I also tend to check out the ratings on Goodreads from bloggers I’m friends with or I follow. I certainly don’t read ALL THE REVIEWS before reading the book, because I’ve realised that that’s the cause of the problem for me. Instead, once I’ve read the book I’ll check out the reviews on Goodreads from all the bloggers I’m friends with or follow. It may seem contrary to what I’ve said thus far, but I AM interested in what other people have to say and I enjoy seeing other people’s perspectives, I just don’t want it to cloud my own before I’ve had a chance to form one.
I’ve only just recently started doing this, but it worked with How to Love by Katie Cotugno which I finished the other day (review to come). It also seems to be working with The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith, which I’m still reading. So, hopefully I’ve found something that works for me.
What about you, does the hype surrounding a book affect your experience when you read it? Do you avoid reading reviews until after you’ve read the book like I do? Or do you have another technique to avoid the hype machine?