Wednesday, September 10, 2014
When Everyone Loves a Book but You
This may be weird, but I struggle with being the NEGATIVE black sheep more than I do being the positive one. Don't get me wrong; when people hate on books I love, I want to crawl under my blanket and weep off my eyeliner and shriek, "LEAVE BOOK-EY ALONE!" because obviously those meanies are not worthy of the precious and wouldn't know genius if I bashed them in the face with it. Or... something less unhinged.
But when people love something I categorically do not, I start to wonder if there's something wrong with ME. The latest example is a book that just came out and that everyone and their grandmothers seemed to love: Falling into Place by Amy Zhang. (This is not to knock the book, which many people love fiercely and which I thought objectively was very impressive.) Oh, I wanted to badly to love this. I could see the skill behind the writing, and I could recognize the very profound insights the text was unraveling, but I just. Felt. Nothing. Which was a such a surprise to me, because a) I am a very emotional reader and will cry if my favorite characters get so much as a paper cut and b) everyone else said this book ripped their hearts out.
I looked down at my heart in confusion. Nope, still there. Still most definitely there. Whaaaaat? Why didn't I get those feelings? We read the same book, didn't we? How did I see something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT in the exact same words? What is this devilry, and how do I make it stop? I hate not loving a thing that people are gushing over. I don't want to be the party pooper, sprinkling turds of negativity all over their shiny confetti. It's an isolating experience that somehow makes you more stubborn in your negativity and determined that you are right. It's much more fun to join in the gushing when you're part of a bookish community, and it can certainly be much more fun to join in the universal dismissal if eeeeeveryone hates the same thing.
But being the lone Negative Nancy? *bleats sorrowfully like a sorrowful black sheep would*
Sometimes I see raving five star reviews for books I abhorred and I am SO. CONFUSED. How can one book be so different for someone else? But it truly does happen. There are people out there and in this community and reading this post right now who probably sincerely enjoyed books I thought were some of the worst I've ever read in my life.
In this community, you can develop sort of a hive mind if you're not careful. So it's moments like these that actually are pretty beneficial, though they sort of suck to go through. Books are subjective. They're probably the most subjective form of art there is, because the reader forms so much of it themselves. We're passive participants while watching movie or a TV show, but with books, our brain actually constructs images from the words on the page. Readers turn books from paper and ink into mind-movies. So we're kind of like the directors or cinematographers, I suppose, and so every director is going to interpret the "screenplay"--aka the written text--slightly differently, and every cinematographer's lens is going to to display it differently. WHICH IS AWESOME.
Blogging needs black sheep every now and then. It's hard being one, but there's always one, and I'm always glad. That doesn't make being the Negative Nancy any less fun, but there's always another book around the corner I can fangirl about until everyone on Twitter begs me to STOP TWEETING IN ALL CAPS YOU CRAZY LADY, but I won't, because it's sooooo fun being the... white sheep? The shepherd? The fansheep? Whatever.
High five for all the negative black sheep out there, and hang in there. You're alone, but you're not ALONE. We still love you, even though you make us want to cry under our bedsheets for hating on the preciouses. (So long as the Negative Nancies aren't being jerks about it, obviously.)
Do you hate being the negative black sheep? Are you used to it? When was the last time you Negative Nancy-ed?