September 17, 2021
Do Hype, Book Buzz, and High Expectations Affect Your Reading Experience?
***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
…and with the 2021 Discussion Challenge.
My answer to this question is absolutely YES!
If you love reading, you’re likely to approach your next read with certain expectations. Or perhaps you try to minimize your expectations and go in “cold.” Some readers don’t like to read reviews or blurbs before they read. This post is written with the assumption that you might have some expectations about your current or next read.
I have learned through experience to approach highly buzzed and popular books with caution because high expectations have definitely affected my reading experience. Do you find this true in your reading life? Two recent books that did meet my high expectations were the audio version of Project Hail Mary (The audio was absolutely as good as I expected) and Hamnet.
Currently, I have the highest expectations for Fredrik Backman’s new release (Beartown #3) in 2022.
Sometimes publishers hype a book through social media campaigns and blog tours and the hype doesn’t develop organically from reviewers. At times I’ve read hyped books and thought “Really?” Then later, more authentic and honest reviews start rolling in and the hype is not sustainable.
I need to confess that I have a high level of FOMO (fear of missing out), so I am highly susceptible to buzzed and hyped and popular books. This doesn’t always serve me well. For example, I SHOULD have a review ready for you on the blog today! Truthfully, I need to report that I have been underwhelmed with a few highly anticipated books lately which has negatively affected my scheduled reviews and my reading mojo. This situation has caused me to think about the predicament of high expectations, so I’m opening it up for discussion today.
An author’s blurb (cover endorsement) can cause you to have high expectations for a book. That happened to me last year. I accepted an ARC for a book that was endorsed by one of my favorite authors and I ended up disliking it. So… proceed with caution (curb impulse buying!) when it comes to cover blurbs and check some reviews!
I realize that I may be guilty of raising your expectations for certain books I love and then they fall flat for you. If this has been your experience, I’m truly sorry. It simply shows that no two readers read the same book and that the reading experience is a personal one.
Do HYPE and book BUZZ and HIGH EXPECTATIONS affect YOUR reading experience or reading choices?
Do high expectations (book buzz and hype) work for you or against you in your reading life?
How many times have you turned the last page and thought “I wanted to love it more”?
There are a few courses of action a reader can take when your highly anticipated book disappoints you:
- throw that book across the room
- take the author off your auto buy list
- delete it from your Goodreads shelf and pretend you’ve never read it or wanted to read it
- write a negative review
- accept it as a lesson learned (once burned…) and vet the next book very carefully
- Give the author another chance
- no drama needed….not every book is for every reader….move on
- donate/give the book away
- set it aside to pick up again at a later date (maybe it wasn’t the right time)
- spiral into a reading slump
- stop buying or borrowing or requesting hyped books
- only read from a back list and avoid popular books
- throw it in the trash
- what have you done with a book you didn’t like?????
My history with disappointing reads: I read on a kindle so throwing it across the room is not a wise option….although I have been known to return digital books to Amazon! I don’t think I would discount a favorite author, but I’m certainly going to read many reviews and refrain from a publishing day purchase. I would probably throw away a book I disliked before I would donate it. If I felt it was just me and others might appreciate it, I would donate it. I rarely set a book aside to read at a later date. I know my reading tastes well and they are not likely to change that much over time. I have been known to delete books from my Goodreads shelf and pretend I haven’t read them. Most of the time, though, I just move them to my DNF shelf. Honestly, I don’t enjoy writing negative reviews and have written very few (usually I leave a one or two star rating and keep my opinions to myself). Actually, most of the time my reaction is “it was not for me but it might be perfect for another reader” and move on. Life is too short to read bad books or books that don’t match my reading tastes. These days, I’m quick to abandon a book without much guilt. I think I’ve become pickier over the years and embrace the quote from Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; “Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
A highly anticipated book that didn’t work out: One book which I set the highest expectations for was Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak, author of The Book Thief. Readers have waited thirteen years for a new book by this author and the anticipation was at a high level. Although others have loved it, I was underwhelmed and disappointed (mainly because it didn’t match my reading tastes). Although I don’t write many negative reviews, you can read my goodreads review here. I will certainly take a close look at his next book before jumping in.
A highly anticipated book that did work out after an initial scare: A recent book that made me nervous in the beginning was Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. It started out slow and I panicked and thought “Oh no! What if this isn’t a great reading experience for me?!” Then I remembered the author and decided to relax into the read and trust him; to acknowledge that he can take his time to build a story (Beartown); and to know that his message/themes are worth an investment of time. It ended up being a 4.5-5 Star read for me and you can see my review of Anxious People here.
If You’re Curious: Here’s a list of a few recent buzzed and hyped books that I highly anticipated and that underwhelmed me (for a variety of reasons). These are NOT bad books (others have loved them); they are just not to my taste. Brood, Braiding Sweet Grass, The Madness of Crowds, The Road Trip, Olympus Texas, Crying in H Mart. (of these, I abandoned Braiding Sweet Grass and Road Trip…I finished the others but they received 3 stars) The lesson here is that exploring and knowing your reading tastes will help you avoid disappointments. I knew that Crying in H Mart might not be the right read for me (too sad) but I’ve seen it on soooo many lists and I fell under the FOMO spell.
Move On: I think it’s important to realize that every book won’t match your reading tastes and that’s it’s absolutely OK to set it aside or mark it as DNF. In other words, just move on! I think that the more we read and the more we reflect on our reading experiences our knowledge will help us choose the next right book for an enjoyable reading experience!
Don’t feel bad if you’re an outlier. Often in my reviews, I need to confess that I’m an outlier (in the minority) with my opinions. I’m comfortable with that and I encourage you to also embrace this concept as a possible reaction to a book.
Not every book is for every reader: For every book that I do not enjoy, I read many raving reviews from others. Reading is a personal experience and not every book is for every reader. We each bring unique experiences and thoughts and triggers to the reading experience. Embrace what you enjoy and know that other readers will enjoy the books that are not right for you. I think one of the worst things to do is to force yourself to finish a book that doesn’t match your tastes.
I honestly believe that Hype, Book Buzz, and High Expectations do affect your reading experience. I’m not sure of the best way to avoid that except to read many reviews and to get to know your reading tastes. Often, I read the 2 Star reviews just to see what some major objections might be. If I notice themes or certain triggers, I know it’s a book I might want to skip. Deciding not to read a popular book is difficult, though, isn’t it? For example, I decided not to read a popular new release, The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, because I knew I didn’t want to read something that depressing and sad (she has made me ugly cry before and I didn’t like it). But every time I see it on a list, I feel a twinge of regret and then I have to remind myself of why I made the decision.
If I’ve listed a book here that you’ve loved, I’m sorry. I usually avoid talking about books in a negative way. I think the topic of high expectations is worth exploring and it’s always helpful to provide examples. Your examples would be completely different from mine! Please leave your thoughts in comments.
Do you agree or disagree that high expectations can affect a reading experience?
Do you think your own high expectations has ever affected your reading experiences? Can you give an example?
Happy Reading Book Buddies!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
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