The Need to Read Episode 3: My Biggest Book Recommendation Problem

Books Featured in This Episode

Gone Girl

Yes Please

Landline

Summer House with Swimming Pool

 

Transcript

Hi, Jessica here with The Need to Read and today I wanted to talk about the biggest problem I have recommending books to people. So I love recommending books to people, it’s one of the reasons I read as much as I do, I like to be that person. I like to be the expert. I actually kind of hate it when a lot of my friends on Facebook will just ask the universe at large what they should read, what books they’ve been reading, what they loved. I think, “Why didn’t you just ask me? I know more than everybody else. I read more than everybody else. I should be telling everyone what to read.” It’s kind of a problem.

But I do have one serious issue when it comes to recommending books and I’m not sure if it’s just the friends that I have specifically or something that’s happening as I’m getting older and my friends’ tastes are changing and the people around me are changing. But this is my big issue: I love dark stuff. Really dark stuff. I know everybody thought you know, when everybody read Gone Girl and was just like “Oh my God, that’s amazing,” I was like, “This is what I want to have happen with every book. I want every book to be this dark and have characters this complicated an dpeople this unlikeable and stuff that happens that’s really awful.” And everything that people were complaining about, I was like, “But this is what I want to have all the itme.” That’s just kind of how I am and the problem is that lately everyone I know keeps asking for happy books. They want happy books. They want books about nice things, they want books that will be inspiring and uplifting, they want, you know, happy endings and good characters and stories that will make them feel good. And this is hard for me because I don’t read a lot of that stuff. I just looked back at my books from 2014and I’ve read about, you know, 80 or 90, and I could pull out two that I thought were legitimate happy books. But then even then, I don’t see them as happy because I don’t read for happy.

Like yes, I read Yes Please and I loved it. I thought it was great. But I don’t see that as a happy book. Like, I cried like 6 times reading that book and not because it was happy. Yes, it’s really funny, it has a lot of great stuff in it, but it has some really serious, serious stuff and that’s what I liked about it. And so I don’t know if I can recommend it to someone who wants happy things because I don’t know if they’ll find the happy things sticking out the way I found the sad and dark things sticking out. So yeah, that’s kind of tough.

The other one that I thought maybe would qualify as a happy book was Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I do really enjoy Rainbow Rowell, but I also thought Landline wa skinda dark. Like, there were—it was a book where you legitimately thought someone’s life was falling apart. And yes, it had, you know, happy nostalgic things in it, but it also really went into the difficulties of middle age and marriage and the conflicts and problems and the way things fall apart and the stupid choices that we make and yeah, that’s the stuff that stood out to me, not the happy stuff. Not the love stuff. The real, legit like errrr dark stuff. So yeah. It’s a real problem. I really just need to make friends with someone who reads happy books who reads lots and lots of happy books and let them give me the list so that I can just pass it along to all my friends who want happy books.

Now, even though I love dark, there is a line. There is a point where it’s no longer acceptable dark, it’s now just like unnngggh uncomfortable dark. Like I read a lot of crime novels, I read a lot of horror, I read you know, heavy drama, like that stuff I really love for just these reasons. But this year I also ran into a book that was too much. The book was Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch, the guy who wrote The Dinner, which I really loved last year and was really excited to see do as well as it did because that was another book that was kind of my classic really well-told, really interesting structure and layout, the way everything kind of slowly unfolded, really kind of got darker and darker and darker every chapter. Just like you’re digging yourself a hole with every single page. But ugh, this book, this book was too much. This character was so unsympathetic, so malevolent, so uncaring, so –I don’t know, he kind of seemed like a sociopath to me and not in a good way. And so in the very first chapter I was just, I was kind of uncomfortable and Herman Koch is a good writer, so I read the entire book, I wanted to see what he was doing with this, I wanted to see where it was gonna go, but ugh, yeah, I did not enjoy that book, I was just like, “This is not fun. This is just really awful.” I think the thing is that I want my dark books to have legitimate, you know, moral dilemmas and Summer House with Swimming Pool didn’t really have that. This guy was not trying to be good or do good or figure out the best way out of a bad situation. Yeah. Sucked.

So yeah, this is the issue that I have, trying to find good books to recommend to people that are happy. When that’s everyone’s request and something that I just have a hard time fulfilling. I would love to hear your recommendations for happy books that I can give to people that I can tell people about, that I can recommend for them and maybe that I can read myself and say, “Oh yeah, this is really happy and I liked it.” If I like a happy book, it’s got to be good.

Definitely leave me your recommendations and what you think a great happy book would be. And with that, I’m gonna say goodbye, thanks for watching The Need to Read, see ya.

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