Thursday, June 7, 2012

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover (or its Title or its Subject—or even by reviews...)

BATTLE OF THE BOOKS is plugging away here.

Shaemus is done. His favorite from Round One, without question:

Drum Roll

Captain Awesome to the Rescue by Stan Kirby and George O'Connor
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He was reluctant to start this book, and I wasn't sure he would finish it without me reading it out loud. But then he kept on reading, and suddenly, he was telling me funny things from the book, and following me around to show me how many pages he had read or tell me about the plot.

This is how he felt about it:
(And here's another picture of him because he's so cute)

He can't wait to read the next two books in the series.
So Captain Awesome is moving on to Round Two.

Now, for me.

Lesson learned. Do not judge a book by its cover or its title or its subject or its genre. Do not assume you will love or hate anything. Begin each book you read with an open mind and an open heart. You will very soon figure out if a book has swept you away, or left you in the dust without a dustpan.

One book, I thought I would love. I couldn't wait to read it. It had starred reviews. It was by a famous author. It had a really cool cover. And it was high concept fantasy that was supposed to be well-written (not easy to find). But I just couldn't get into the story. I never understood the magical world, and I didn't care about the characters. Their wants and needs were not very interesting, and the bad guys were too obviously bad. The Inquisitor's Apprentice will not be winning Round One for me.
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Another book, Words in the Dust, I did enjoy. The subject matter was compelling. The story is important. I thoroughly recommend it, especially to anyone wanting to better understand the Middle East, and particularly, the war in Afghanistan (you will finish reading this book and be unable to have a firm, resolute opinion on what should happen there—there are so many variables, so many complexities, and this book highlights so many of them), but I was not swept away. This girl's world did not become my own. I was definitely reading a book about someone else, not inhabiting someone else's life. Still worth reading, but not my favorite.
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The third book was the book I was least looking forward to reading for Battle of the Books. I assigned it to myself because I didn't think anyone else would get through it. I'd had it on my library shelf for perhaps months and never got further than two pages. The cover is actually gorgeous, and the title is compelling (sort of), but the topic—it just sounded like serious realistic fiction, something I always, always have to make myself read.

Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan.
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I become Rosalind as I read this book. I related to all of her choices, I related to all of her actions and thoughts and feelings. It's about a girl who lives in India around the time of Gandhi the revolution from Britain's rule. Rosalind's father is one of the British governors there, and this girl continually asserts her independence and breaks her parents' rules to do what she feels is right rather than what's expected.

Sounded pretty boring to me. It is not. The interesting thing is, the narrative is told in first person, but a distant first person. Rosalind sounds like she is telling this story a good distance after it has happened, from an adult perspective even.

I didn't care. I loved it. It is a story of a girl finding herself, and I found myself again when I read it. I wanted to be her while I was immersed in the pages.
It reminded me of this book:
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Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt, which I have blogged about a thousand times.

So, so very good. I'm not done yet with all my books, but I sense a winner...

Don't judge a book by its cover. Demand the best from what you read. Expect to be sucked into a story and a character and don't keep reading if you're not (unless you're doing Battle of the Books and you have to finish what you begin).

If only all reading were as good as this.

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