“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet



Sunday, February 13, 2011

Let me preface this post by saying that if you read "Redemption" by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley and loved it, you may not want to read this post. If you choose to do so anyway, please don't be offended. I know several people who have read this and loved it. I just don't happen to be one of them.

"Redemption" is the first of a series of five books, which is followed by several more related series. The co-worker who lent me this book was sure that I, like she and several other co-workers, would devour it and not be able to stop reading until I had completed the entire line of books. I did read it quickly, but unfortunately it was less like devouring it, and more like reading it as quickly as possible in the way you might quickly swallow a piece of liver just to avoid having to taste it as it went down.

The writing style was okay – similar to a lot of other books I've read in the same genre. I have definitely read worse writing than this book.

Just a warning here: I'm not going to give any specific spoilers, but I will say some things at this point that might be considered general spoilers.

By the time I was halfway through the book, not a single good thing had happened. It was simply a series of tragedies or setups for future tragedies, one after another. A little past the halfway point something good happened – the redemption from which the book gets its title. And then everything fell apart and the rest of the book was filled with more tragedies.

Within the first few chapters of the book, I had an idea of where it was headed and my mind had formulated a possible ending. But surely, I thought, they wouldn't actually end the book that way. It was so obvious, so predictable, so cheap. I kept hoping throughout the book that it would not end that way, even though it was clearly being set up that way. They ended the book exactly the way I feared they might, just a few chapters into the book.

So, now I will have to find a way to explain to my co-worker that I do not want to read the rest of the series without sounding like I am criticizing her taste in books. That's the hard thing about reading books recommended by other people. Books are so personal. If you love a book, it's wonderful to be able to share your thoughts about the story and discuss with a friend what it meant to you. But if you don't, it is so hard to say so without hurting their feelings.

What do you do when you read a book that someone else loved, but don't like it yourself?

Labels: ,


At 2/14/2011 7:58 AM, Blogger Jeana wrote:

Oh, Karen Kingsbury. Sigh. I had the exact same thing happen to me. It was like a cleaned-up V. C. Andrews book, or soap opera. And it's nice that it was "clean" but if this is a Christian series, where is the hope? That was my feeling when the book ended.

I told the woman honestly that I had a large stack of books I was trying to read right then, and I didn't want to hold her books when I knew it would be a long time before I got to them. Later she pressed me on what I thought, and I had to tell her honestly (and hopefully gently) that I didn't care for it--I think I said something like it wasn't the genre I prefer.

At 2/14/2011 4:03 PM, Blogger Geekwif wrote:


Exactly! I love a good tragedy now and then – Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a wonderful example – but like you said, this is a Christian book and seems like it should end with more hope. The title "Redemption" implies hope as well, but the redemption was only gained to be crushed by more tragedy.

I gave it back to my coworker this morning. She offered the next and I did the same thing you did – explained that I had a lot of other reading to do right now. We'll see if she brings it up again at a later date.

At 2/14/2011 11:12 PM, Anonymous HolyMama! wrote:

Ugh, I know just what you mean. Although not with that book.

I read the first 250 pages of The Pillars of the Earth because my sister had sold me on it... but I couldn't get the images of the graphic tragedies and heartaches out of my head. I kept waiting for something good to happen, and nothing ever did. It was REALLY well written, so it made it hard to stop. It felt like cheating. Quitting. But it wasn't worth those awful images in my head. Years later, they're STILL there and I wish I'd quite reading sooner!

I love my sister but now when she recommends books I am not even tempted.

At 2/15/2011 1:16 PM, Blogger Jeana wrote:

But to me, the best tragedies somehow draw beauty, joy, or at the very least a sense of irony or natural consequences from the story of tragedy.

I read accounts of the holocaust by Corrie Ten Boom (a believer) and Victor Frankl (not a believer) and the difference was stark. She found joy and hope in the midst of the worst experience I can imagine--he only told of the suffering and pain.

I don't think all Christians can cope the way Corrie Ten Boom did, and I wouldn't necessarily doubt their salvation if they reacted more the way Frankl did--but I probably wouldn't want to read their book. ;-)

At 2/15/2011 3:47 PM, Anonymous Jenn Sullivan wrote:

I feel for you. There is a series a friend wanted me to read and I could not even finish the first book. I was afraid her feelings would be hurt but knew I had to tell her I couldn't stand the book and wasn't interested in the series because we always talked about what we read. So, the next day I took the series back to her and told her thanks, but it just wasn't my style and I hoped she would be as honest with me if she ever hated something I offered to her. She laughed it off and then a couple months later had to tell our boss the same thing about a series she wanted her to read...


Post a Comment

I'm having trouble with word verification so all comments will now go through moderation. Don't worry. I check my email often so it won't take long before your comment shows up.

<< Home