Monday, August 31, 2009
A Matter of Taste
I remember pressing my copy of Alice Sebold's THE LOVELY BONES on a friend a few years ago.
"Read it! It's beautifully written--you'll love it," I said.
My friend hesitated. "It's about a kid who gets murdered, isn't it?"
"Well, yes..." I said. "But it's brilliant. Really. You should read it."
But my friend refused. There are some subject matters that we all find ourselves unwilling to read, no matter what. For my friend, it was child murder. I've seen others shy away from child abuse (A CHILD CALLED IT was a hot debate topic among my readerly friends not so long ago), from rape (even when not graphic, such as Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK), and other topics that touch a nerve. Even if the material is written brilliantly, as THE LOVELY BONES is, or even if the ultimate message is very positive, such as in SPEAK, the subject matter itself is something that some people cannot breach.
For me, none of these real-life topics bother me.
For me, it's a matter of genre.
Although I love a good paranormal or fantasy novel, there are some subjects that, no matter what, I just won't be able to enjoy. I try. But--with very few exceptions--there are some topics that just turn me off.
First: vampires. Never been a fan. And even though there's some truly brilliant vampire stuff out there (especially now), I just can't be bothered. I've got a few vampire books that I consider wonderful, a few that I think might be wonderful but haven't touched because of the subject (THE HISTORIAN being top of that list). There's just something about the whole nature of vampires that is...unappealing to me. I wouldn't say boring, but it's a subject that just simply doesn't interest me.
Second: angels. But for an entirely different reason. For me, I've got some very specific beliefs about angels--one of the top being that they're not people with wings, and therefore unlikely to fall in love with teenage girls. And although some of my favorite authors have written quite well on the topic of angels, I haven't been able to enjoy most titles dealing with angels--in fact, I rarely get past the subject description before putting the book back on the shelf.
Of course, there are exceptions. The wonderful Cynthia Leitich Smith has written about both vampires and angels, and I found both of her novels wonderful. And while I rag on Stephenie Meyers constantly, I do consider the first volume well done. But in general, books about either vampires or angels tend to turn me off the same way my friend was turned off by a book dealing with child murder.
It's just a matter of taste.
So, what book topics out there are just unappealing or uninteresting to you?