You’ve experienced it before. The book. The hype. Maybe it even becomes a movie. And then, for some reason, the meteoric rise of a novel has a Milli Vanilli level fall. (You 90s people know what I mean.)
It’s not an uncommon story. A beloved book suddenly ceases to be cool and is thrust into a world of mockery. People who used to love it now shrug and claim they never really did, they just read it because everyone else did.
Here are five such books many people flocked to buy (including myself) and now have trouble even admitting they ever read.
For this Friday Five, 5 Good Books Gone Bad!
5. Twilight Series
I’ll start with probably one of the biggest good books gone bad I know. At one point in time, this simple girl meets vampire, falls in love and tries not to constantly get herself killed story was a revelation.
Then something happened and the love for this book got sucked out of existence. Perhaps the movie adaptations are to blame. Perhaps they shed light on the shallowness of the story. If you’re a reader and a movie watcher, you’ll probably admit the movies were nowhere near as good as the books.
But, I refuse to jump on the dumping on the Twilight bandwagon. I love it still, despite wimpy Bella and overprotective Edward. Part of me still roots for Jacob. I will even admit, I read the first and third books (my favorites) three whole times, putting them up there with books like Midnight’s Children, Pride and Prejudice and The Heart of Darkness, in terms of books I’ve read thrice. It’s a small selective list and Twilight makes the cut.
Why? I don’t know. This book sunk its teeth in me and never let go. I won’t apologize for that.
4. 50 Shades of Grey
I will admit to reading this book, propelled by the hype and the strange twist that this was Twilight fan fiction turned bestseller. I couldn’t resist.
For a brief recap, in case you are somehow not familiar with this tawdry tale, mousy Anastasia meets super-rich, hunky Christian Grey (thus the “clever” name) in a hardware store I believe. They fall for each other, but his erotic tastes lead to complicated developments.
I was not someone who read this book and got swept up in the romance. In fact, for me, reading it felt like a chore. A friend once told me “you’re reading it for the wrong reasons,” implying that I should stop trying to find something literary and just enjoy it. But, the second I read the word “pram” I was done. No one I know in the US uses the word “pram.” (It’s a stroller.) The author couldn’t even do her homework as to the proper American lingo. It’s a small thing, I know. But it speaks to something much larger.
To be fair, this book is also not what I would call “my genre.” So I tried not to judge it too harshly. Still, I don’t seem to be alone. Either people don’t want to admit to liking something so risque or, like me, just didn’t connect to the writing and the story, this once whispered, then loudly lauded book is now persona non grata. No one wants to admit to liking it or even having read it. But, people did. They’re still out there, hiding their love in the dark grey shadows.
3. The Da Vinci Code
This is another good book gone bad I read and I liked*. Yes, that’s an intentional asterisk. I liked the premise. I liked the mystery. I did not like how Brown hits the reader over the head with concepts and metaphor. I don’t like it when authors treat their readers like idiots. I get exposition. I don’t like condescension.
But this book might have rivaled Twilight in its levels of obsessed reader frenzy. There were entire TV specials surrounding the story of a symbologist who ends up investigating a murder that uncovers clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci that reveal a secret so old and so controversial, a secret society has spent years protecting it.
It even sounds so good when you write it! It’s almost compelling despite the overt, knock-you-over the head descriptions and explanation. Who knows if others felt like me and that’s why many people now turn their noses up at the book or maybe it was just a matter of over-saturation. People got sick of hearing about it. (Hamilton, take note.)
2. Eat Pray Love
Like everything else on this list, this book was so huge it was turned into a movie. This one starring the wonderful Julia Roberts. The story follows a woman who leaves behind the idea of traditional success and sets off to explore how to have a successful soul. The premise is wonderful. People loved this book. I never read it. I didn’t have any aversion to it, other than the fact that everyone told me I had to read it and when people tell me I have to do something I typically stubbornly do the opposite. So, I never picked up this book. But I might have been the only one. I’m not sure, especially at its height, I met a person who hadn’t read this book.
So what happened to it? People don’t talk about it much anymore. Did it just not have the longevity, the heft to transcend past its own hype? Perhaps, but that wouldn’t explain why people now turn up their nose at the book. When it’s mentioned, no one gushes about it anymore. Having never read it, I can’t even postulate, I can only observe. For some reason Eat, Pray, Love never made it past sensation. It actually seems kind of sad.
1. The Notebook
I’ve never read a Nicholas Sparks book. But I will openly admit to loving the movie version of The Notebook – Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Gina Rowlands…Come on, it had James Garner! Maybe that’s why the schmaltzy story worked on film. There have also been Bollywood and Bengali film adaptations. And hang onto your 40s swing dresses, there may even be a TV adaptation in the works.
The book was clearly popular enough to spawn so many offshoots. But this book and other Sparks books aren’t highly respected in the reader community. So why the haters? Perhaps it’s the sappy and excessively sentimental story lines. Not everything needs to be about beefed up superheros though, right?
Anyone have any other examples of good books gone bad? I’d love to hear them!