Monday, February 18, 2013

Reader's Diary #951- Stephenie Meyer: Twilight

Stephenie Meyer's Twilight had a few things working in its favour:

1. The negative reviews- I was surprised to find that Twilight wasn't written, in fact, in crayon. I'm not suggesting that Twilight should have gotten a Pulitzer, but Meyer does have her B.A. in English; she is capable of stringing sentences together. True, sometimes Meyer seems to try too hard to show her education, trying to make Bella bookish, into the classics, but when Meyer isn't trying too hard to turn Twilight into something it's not (a literary masterpiece), she has written an entertaining book.

2. Fifty Shades of Grey- I haven't read enough fan fiction yet to make a sweeping generalization, but I'm starting to suspect that if you want to appreciate an original book, you should read the fan fiction first. I recently read someone knock Twilight's Bella for being too swoony over Edward. Fair enough, but good lord, at least she's not Anastasia Steele. Not to knock all teenage girls, but Bella is a teenager after all. Teenagers swoon. And unlike Christian Grey, Edward is a vampire and as such, he practically excretes pheromones— that's one of the things supposed to make vampires such perfectly irresistible predators.

So, perhaps the secret to enjoying Twilight is to not go into it with high expectations. I won't be reading the following up books, but for a diversion, it wasn't half bad.

As a side note, I seemed to surprise a lot of my reader's last week when I "reviewed" Fifty Shades of Grey. This, despite the fact, that I had it listed in the sidebar for some time as a book I planned to read. Last year I made a list of popular novels that had escaped me or that I've managed to avoid. But I'm not a complete snob and I don't intentionally shun bestsellers. I've always felt that I can't judge an author's work unless I've read at least something by them, even if the respected critics warn me to stay away. Plus I like being well rounded. The popular books nicely balance out my Obscure Challenge blog. Anyway, here's the list of the books that the general populace has read, but I haven't. Actually, since completing the list last year, I have managed to cross off a few:

GLARING OMISSIONS! (Populist edition)  
1. Twilight- Stephenie Meyer   
2. Fifty Shades of Grey- E.L. James
3. Confessions of a Shopaholic- Sophie Kinsella
4. the Sisters Brothers- Patrick deWitt
5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo- Stiegg Larsson  
6. The Gargoyle- Andrew Davidson
7. Outlander- Gil Adamson
8. Flashforward- Robert J. Sawyer
9. Fear the Worst- Linwood Barclay  
10. No One Here Gets Out Alive- Jerry Hopkins
11. A Fatal Grace- Louise Penny
12. Room- Emma Donoghue
13. Bitten- Kelley Armstrong
14. The Book of Awesome- Neil Pasricha
15. Outliers- Malcolm Gladwell
16. The Lightning Thief- Rick Riordan  
17. Freakonomics- Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
18. Water For Elephants- Sara Gruen
19. Book Thief- Markus Zusak
20. The Kite Runner- Khaled Hosseini

Which of these have you read?


Chrisbookarama said...

I haven't read Twilight or 50 Shades. Congrats on your accomplishment!

I did read 3 of the Shopaholic books. They're fluffy fun.

I think you should add Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn to the list since it's so popular this year.

Kate said...

I have organized a reading challenge on Facebook ( and one of the challenges is to read a book that everyone else has read. Since I am refusing to read 50 Shades of Anything, I may lean on your list here!

Of those on your list that I have read:
Twilight (despised it, but the review was fun to write:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (OK, but the 2nd book in the series was better)
Outlander (a good read, but it didn't make a strong impression on me)
Room (read it in a day and quite enjoyed it)
The Kite Runner (don't think that it deserved all the hype)

John Mutford said...

Chris: Accomplishment! ;)

No doubt I'll easily have a new list of 20 by the time I get this one done. I'll add Gone Girl to it.

John Mutford said...

Kate: Great idea. Loved the Bingo card. I'd have 7 blocks filled in so far.

raidergirl3 said...

Love the list!
Add me to the shocked/surprised to see you review 50 Shades and Twilight. You might be on to something about going into a book with low expectations - it's hard to be disappointed.

I've only read 1 (Outliers) of the books you've crossed out already, but of the ones you have left, I've read all but 3. (8,13,14)

Looking forward to the rest of your reviews.

Kate said...

John - if you are a Facebooker, feel free to join the game! You can count anything finished in 2013, and I've promised to give a book from my library to anyone who fills a full card by December 31...

John Mutford said...

Raidergirl: I'm reconfirming my belief that being popular in and of itself tells little about the quality. Even of just the six I've read so far, I've loved some, hated one, and felt in between on the others.

Kate: Knock out the barista square, and I'd consider it. ;)

gypsysmom said...

I've read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (loved it), The Gargoyle (loved, loved, loved it), Outlander (enjoyed it), Flashforward (loved it), Room (can't say I loved it given the subject but I was completely caught up in the story), Water for Elephants (loved, loved it) and The Kite Runner (loved it). I'm not going to read Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey but I would consider any of the other one.

Kate said...

LOL! I'm going to have to go into a random coffee shop, order a cup of tea, and ask a random barista for a book recommendation! My friend did it (for the challenge) - her conclusion: random barista was not very literary, but it was a very easy read!

Kim Aippersbach said...

People are too mean to Twilight: I thought it was a great read. Sequels too.

Read The Kite Runner a long time ago; I remember thinking it was good.

The Book Thief is amazing. Not at all what I was expecting.

The Lightening Thief is a solid middle-grade adventure; it and its sequels are a lot of fun. I couldn't keep up my enthusiasm for the second set of sequels.

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was not my kind of thing but I found it a gripping read.

Jules said...

I never knew you reviewed 50 Shades of Grey. It's a book I won't read, and don't care about the reviews good or bad - not my genre. I like your review though.

I've read Twilight, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Sisters Brothers, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Room, Bitten, The Lightning Thief, Water for Elephants, The Book Thief,

John Mutford said...

One good thing about reading popular books? People are talking to me again!

Gypsysmom: The Gargoyle was one of my favourites last year.

Kate: My choice of baristas are limited here in Yellowknife. There are a few options I guess. No Starbucks-- not a complaint, just a fact I'm throwing out there.

Kim: I don't think TGWTDT sounds like my cup of tea either, but then, I could say that for at least half of the books on this list.

Jules: Of course my list can be easily divided up into Canadian popular and Internationally popular and I don't think that's just an arbitrary division.

Kate said...

No Starbucks in Kenora either. The girl who works at the Bearskin Airline counter at the airport also works at the Tim Hortons. I got to know her when I was flying in and out every 2nd week for work; so now that I am living here, I may wander in and ask her for a book recommendation!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm not doing too well here - I've only read Room and Confessions of a Shopaholic. Obviously I need to show the popular books some love. Or at least attention.

Melwyk said...

I've only read two, Outlander and Water for Elephants. But I FEEL like I have read most of the others, having heard so much about them.

I think I may have read Twilight at some point, but if so I've completely blocked it from my mind as I recall nothing about reading it.

Anonymous said...

I have only read two on the list.

Twilight, some years ago, just when the first movie came out,to see what all the fuss was about, and I must say it was rather underwhelming - my son & I had a great time critiquing it - he read it as well, sort of as a double dare - "If you do it, I will too" - also The Dragon Tattoo & the others in the series, though I confess to speed reading through the sex sequences - .

I *do* have the Louise Penny book in the TBR pile - my husband started it but abandoned it so that's not a good sign - plus The Sisters Brothers and Outlander look interesting.

You're all doing way better than I am. I have been really trying to read more "popular" literature; it is, as John observes, all over the map. Some I love, some I wonder what all the fuss is about.

Fifty Shades of Grey - I figure I don't *have* to read it now - I know what it's about from so much discussion here, there & everywhere. I *did* dip into it while in a bookstore in Kelowna last year; there was a huge display of "New & Popular" and there it was, but I wasn't impressed, either by the writing or the plot. Another moment!