The Hype, the Hope, and the Hesitation: On Reading Massively Popular Books

Book blogs raved about it, it was on the forefront of so many Top 10 lists, and even my friends were encouraging me to read it. And because I had ten dollars to spend and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell was sold out, I caved. I finally bought the book Cinder.

Cinder

And I then finished Cinder. On the same day, at that. It was that good. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong–I love fairy tale retellings, and this one was definitely one of the more unique ones, but I just never really cared for the story of Cinderella.  (Never mind that Just Ella, another Cinderella retelling, is one of my favorite books. I read it in middle school because it was one of the only on my teacher’s bookshelf that I hadn’t finished.)

So while everyone went on and on about Cinder, I was busy with books like The Sisters Grimm, and the Looking Glass Wars. (Both fab.) And then people kept talking about Cinder, and I began to feel so jealous because what was I missing out on? What if the book really is great? And turns out, it was. Cinder was a spectacular twist on the original boring, slightly drippy tale of Cinderella and I loved it and if I had another ten dollars I’d buy the second book now, too. But after I finished Cinder and realized that the hype surrounding it had been hyping it for a reason, I began thinking about the nature of book-hype, and how it affects different readers. Because while I usually am more compelled to buy a book when everyone is talking about it, I’ve noticed many bloggers write that they are reluctant to read books because of the hype. And I can kind of see where they’re coming from. When everybody is raving about a particular book, the standards are impossible high, which often leads to disappointment. But the curiosity to find out what everybody is talking about always convinces me to buy the book, and in truth, I’ve found some of my favorite books by just going with the flow. Of course, just like anybody else, I’ve been let down by a book that so many people love, and I think that, in a way, that’s a really cool thing about books. That what a hundred people choose as their favorite book could be a letdown for one person, and that one person’s favorite book could spark nothing but antipathy in a hundred people. Books are all subjective; they mean something different and strike a new chord in every person they meet. They are like music for the eyes.

In any case, I digress. Because I was thinking about books and the hype that surrounds them, I found myself wondering what books I read because of the hype, and whether or not I think they deserved the hype. I also started thinking of books that deserved more hype. So I decided to tell you my personal example of each. Feel free to leave your own experiences in the comments!

 A book that you read because of the hype: Cinder, of course! As I said earlier, the only reason I read the futuristic retelling of Cinderella was because everybody was going glowy over it.

A book that you declined to read despite/because of the hype: Well, I don’t really choose not to read books that everyone else loves. Usually, hype makes me excited. But a book that I didn’t read that has a lot of hype would be the Maze Runner by James Dashner. (Whoah. Just noticed that the guy whose most famous book is the Maze Runner has a last name that includes the word Dash. Just whoah.) I probably will eventually, though. It’s just not that important to me.

A book that deserves the hype: Hmm. This is hard. Because a lot of books deserve the hype. But the one I’m thinking about right now would be the City of Bones. I started this series years ago, when it was still popular but not insanely, movie-out popular like it is today. But, like I said, it was popular and as I read it I remember thinking ‘well, no wonder.’

A book that disappointed: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross. It seems like so many people were giddy about this book, but to me the best part was the cover. Finley had two different personalities, and I didn’t care about either one.

And finally:

A book that deserves more hype: Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde. I absolutely loved this book when I was in middle school. It takes place almost exclusively in a virtual reality world where the heroine has become trapped, and follows her attempts at escape through the only means possible: winning the game.  The writing was witty, the main character was likable, and there was a dragon! Despite all this, I don’t think it was ever super popular, although it has a strong Goodreads score. So, yes, you should check it out.

So, my questions to you: Does the hype surrounding a book affect the likelihood that you’ll read it? If so, does it influence you in a positive way, or a negative way? Also, what books deserve the hype, and which ones don’t? Let me know in the comments, below! 

‹Oh, wow. Just realized this was my 42nd post. I shall take this time to pay homage to Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.