Wednesday, July 11, 2007

When A Book Changes Your Mind

So I'm reading a book now (shout out to Trish Ryan!) that won't hit shelves until 2008, so I can't really chat too much about it, but I'm having a really interesting experience with it. Here's why: it's a subject matter about which I have not that much interest or experience - namely, religion - so I was really hesitant (and expressed this to Trish) about whether or not it would appeal to my sensibilities. And here's what I've found so interesting: through her writing, which is strong and relatable and at times, so funny (seriously, some of her dating experiences have had me giggling with glee on the Precor at the gym), that I've found myself tugged into her world, despite the fact that I didn't think I would be.

I've heard similar comments about my own book: that because it's about breast cancer, people aren't initially interested. But once they're drawn into the story, they discover that a) it's not really about breast cancer, just as Trish's book isn't about religion, and that b) there's a lot to learn about experiences that aren't your own or even ones that you thought would interest you so much. Rather, TDLF is about one woman's journey of finding her way in the world, and in the book, cancer is just the catalyst for that. Just as in Trish's, religion is the catalyst for her path to self-discovery. (Trish, I hope you don't mind me taking liberties here!) :)

And this was a sort of eye-opening experience with me: I tend to pick up books that might in some way reflect something that I've already gone through, but I'm learning that this is a mighty small box that I've constructed for myself. It's the reason that I haven't read The Kite-Runner (shhh!). I thought, "Ugh, I won't relate to that," but I'm guessing that just because I don't really have a HUGE interest in Afghanistan in the 70s, that there are still things to be learned, just as I'm learning about religion and spirituality via Trish, and just as people might have learned about cancer via my book.

I dunno. I can't believe that it's taken me this long to figure this out. But I guess I look at books as entertainment, even if it's heavy entertainment, so I've never wanted to slog through something that didn't immediately appeal. But I'm learning that my gut instinct might be wrong.

So let me ask you: have books ever surprised you? Have you ever found yourself interested in a book that you thought would hold little interest? If so, which ones? Or am I alone in my discovery? (Please say no!)

9 comments:

Patti said...

books are like people...they are always surprising in some ways.

Sue said...

happens all the time.

Larramie said...

No, Allison, you're certainly not alone. I used to read for entertainment but have stretched beyond that to include diversity as well. Same old, same old can become same boringly old.

And, having read about Trish's book on her website, I'm looking forward to its debut and revelations.

Trish Ryan said...

Thanks Allison - wow, what a compliment! And (as I've told you already) I marvel at your ability to read while on the Precor :)

I'll confess that I've been a little scared of THE KITE RUNNER, on the theory that it's better to be the girl who hasn't read it than the girl who doesn't get it...

Thanks for giving me a much-needed nudge out of that kind of silliness!

Joanne said...

Actually, I had absolutely NO interest in the Harry Potter series until a friend gave me the first three volumes for Christmas one year. "Trust me, you'll love this!" she said.

She was right. Hook, line, and sinker and now I can't wait for the 7th book - just 10 more days!

Katie Alender said...

I didn't know what to expect from Life of Pi, and I ended up really liking it.

I read The Kite Runner. It was one of those books whose reputation makes you think they're some enormous lofty achievements, when really it's just a book. A well written and popular book, but still a book like many others.

I hope Khaled Hosseini doesn't come beat me up for saying this.

Christopher said...

The Kite Runner was one of those books for me.

My mom had it on her bookshelf and kept telling me I'd like it. I finally broke down and read it. With all the hype, I expected something more lofty. It's just a good little book; I was surprised by how much I liked it.

Of course, I have no desire to read Hosseini's latest novel.

But I'm sure I'll read it at some point and like it, just like I was surprised by The Kite Runner.

The books I tend to resist are often the books I love best because they surprise me.

I plan to read TDLF at some point in the near future. I've had it in my hands (along with I Love You, Beth Cooper and Water for Elephants), but I haven't bought it yet.

You're not alone in your feelings about some books...hell, your book is one of those books for me! Like most books I've almost bought on a couple occasions, I'm guessing I'll be pleasantly surprised when I finally read it--and then wonder why I didn't read it sooner :)

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Christopher-

LOL that you have no desire to read his next one! I suspect I'll feel the same way.

Trust me, pick up TDLF! You'll love it. :)

No seriously, I Love You Beth Cooper is my favorite read of the summer. Rolling on the floor funny, clutching my side funny, tears streaming down my face funny. Definitely pick it up.

The Writers' Group said...

I didn't want to read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, byt after 21 pages, I simply couldn't put it down. It's changed so much about how I think want to write. But a book about religion? I HAVE to read it! Any chance you need another set of eyes, Trish?

Amy