If my younger self had gotten her act together, I might have found a place in the publishing business. Nothing gives me more pleasure than reading and anyone who knows me, knows that I am really critical about what I read – just ask me what I think of Fifty Shades of Grey or Twilight. Or visit my Book Graveyard
By day, I am a high school English teacher and I really and truly feel that the most important part of my job is to put students on a path towards a lifetime of reading. During the 2012-13 academic year I had an astounding grade ten class. These kids were amazing – smart and funny and hard-working – and a true joy to spend time with. They also, for the most part, loved to read. So we did read, a lot.
I have a pretty good-sized classroom library…and it’s getting bigger. I have already asked our Mill & Cab teacher if he could get his students to build me a bigger and better bookshelf in my room in the fall because I am outgrowing all the bookcases I’ve purchased and scavanged over the past few years. I love having all those books in my room because it shows students I am a serious reader. It also allows me to have real conversations about books and gives me the ability to put a book into a kid’s hands and say “Read this.”
So, when a student turns the tables and puts a book in my hands, I feel obliged to read that book. In this case, the book was called John Dies @ the End by David Wong.
And I tried, guys; I really did. I got to page 142 and I just couldn’t go on. In a nutshell, John Dies @ the End is a crazy hybrid of horror and comedy about two friends, Dave and John, who appear to be some sort of supernatural investigators (think Sam and Dean from Supernatural) who come into contact with this mind-altering drug called ‘soy sauce’. Wackiness ensues.
Sadly, the wackiness just wasn’t interesting to me.
According to Cracked.com (where David Wong, a pseudonym for Jason Pargin, was an editor), John and Dave “find out the world is being attacked by a Lovecraftian god named Korrok, whose godhood has not saved him from being totally retarded. Dave must overcome Korrok’s dark and invisible army, while overcoming his own personal demons. His primary demon is the fact that he just doesn’t give a shit.”
John Dies @ the End had an interesting introduction to the world. The novel “has been published in no less than four formats: as an online serial, then through the print-on-demand service at CafePress, then via indie horror publisher Permuted Press, and now by huge megapublisher St. Martin’s.” It has also been made into a movie.
I can certainly see why the book would appeal to the two young men who recommended it to me. It’s over-the-top and ridiculous and, I suppose, creepy in parts. It’s like a cult film: Hobo With a Gun, say. Maybe if I had discovered this book 30 years ago, I would have enjoyed it more. But I doubt it.
So, this made me think about book recommendations. Something The Guardian also pondered in its article When book recommendations go wrong. I know how I feel when I fall in love with a book and want to share it and other readers aren’t quite as enamoured. It cuts like a knife, people.
Book Riot (an absolutely fabulous book-related site) had a great article about What To Do When Friends Give You a Book You Don’t Want to Read. I really felt obligated to read John Dies @ the End because how can I expect my students to accept my recommendations if I won’t accept theirs? The truth of the matter is that I have my own criteria for deciding whether or not I should keep on trucking through a book that doesn’t immediately grab me.
I considered what makes me give up on a book in 2012 in my post Books are like a relationship, sometimes you have to end it
At the end of the day – with so many books on my tbr shelf – I just had to break up with John Dies @ the End. I hope Adrian and Jon can forgive me.
What makes you give up on a book?