Tuesday Thingers ~ All About Popularity

June 17, 2008 at 11:41 am | Posted in Books, LibraryThing | 9 Comments
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Today’s Question: What’s the most popular book in your library? Have you read it? What did you think? How many users have it? What’s the most popular book you don’t have? How does a book’s popularity figure into your decisions about what to read?

The Most popular book that I own is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. This is also the most popular book on LibraryThing as it is owned by 32,529 members. I haven’t read that book even though I own the entire series. I have many people at work who are encouraging me (in some cases badgering me) to read the series, and for whatever reason, I’m just can’t work up the motivation to get started. I typically don’t read fantasy, but I think I’m more hesitant because it’s just so darn popular. At this point, who would really care if I said that I’ve finally started the series? I’m quite probably the last person on earth who hasn’t.  Do I really want to read these books just to say that I have?  Do I want to wait and read them with my daughters (5 and 3) when they get old enough?

The most popular book that I don’t own is The Da Vinci Code (23,291 LibraryThing owners).  I tried to read this at one point because my sister loved it and asked me to, but I couldn’t get past the evil monk flogging himself.  There was something about it that just felt off to me and I stopped reading it.  The Jesus and Mary Magdalen controversy doesn’t do anything for me.  Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” explored this in a really meaningful way.  If I did want to read about that, I’d pick up The Last Temptation by Nikos Kazantzakis off of my bookshelf and read that.  I have absolutely no desire to revisit The Da Vinci Code.

In general, I don’t think that a book’s popularity affects me other than the hype surrounding it.  If there is a really hot historical fiction book, I’ll pick it up and read it in a heart-beat.  Even if I don’t end up liking it, I’m almost always glad I read it because I enjoy the discussions around it.  The Da Vinci Code and Eat, Pray, Love are examples of books that were/are really popular that turn me off.  In both cases, I didn’t finish the book and wished that I had followed my instincts and never picked them up in the first case.  In those cases, if they weren’t popular I wouldn’t have been given copies of the books in the first place.

How about you?  What’s your history with popular books?

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  1. When I belonged to a book club, I could always be counted on to play devil’s advocate; I hated the books everyone loved. I loved Darkly Dreaming Dexter with its ghoulish protagonist, but hated The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime because I thought it read like a rehash of autism anecdotes, nothing more. In both cases I was in the minority. I had to admit that others made some good points about the books while they had to admit that I had valid criticisms. It was the best sort of conversation to have.

  2. Wow, I thought I was the last person in existence to finally break down and read Harry Potter. I was very hesitant, too, but it turned out to be much better than I expected. The DaVinci Code, on the other hand, was pretty much just as bad as I expected it to be – had to force myself to keep reading, which I don’t usually do. I’m still not sure why it was so darn popular.

  3. Hi, I just happened across your blog and love it! Like you, I was turned off by Eat, Pray, Love. But I just finished reading Devil in the White City by Eric Larsen. I kept hearing about this book and thinking “Why is it so popular? What could be so darned exciting about the Chicago World’s Fair?” Well, I stand corrected. The book was wonderfully complex and with so much historical data.

  4. I think it’s good to have a devil’s advocate because those types of questions really help you to think about your opinions. Whether you keep your opinions or not, they’ll be stronger. That’s what I lack being a solitary reader. The communication I have with my readers is what I have. I look forward to being part of a solid book club someday.

    Okay, so I actually am the last person who hasn’t read Harry Potter. I’m happy to hear that another hold out thought that it was better than expected. You’ve just nudged me a little closer to the Harry Potter world.

    Denise, welcome! I’m glad you found me and enjoy my blog. Keep coming back! I am going to look into Devil in the White City. I’ve never heard of it, but the Chicago World’s Fair sounds neat – it’s definitely different from anything I’ve ever read thus far. The more you explore my blog the more you’ll know that I love me some historical data! 🙂

  5. I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books nor The DaVinci Code – and at this point, I don’t have any desire to either.

  6. Funny! My answer is the opposite of yours. The Da Vinci Code is in my library, Harry Potter is not.

    My instinct is to shy away from super popular books, but I don’t have any real justification for doing so. I am willing to read any book that wins a prize, so why not a popularity contest?

  7. Lol how come you own the HP books but haven’t read any of them? I can imagine maybe having one, but all of them…? Well, I do hope you get talked into it. They are very good 🙂

  8. You’ll get to Harry when you get to him and that will be good enough. Or maybe not at all and that will be fine too. 🙂

    It is hard not to take notice of a book that everyone under the sun is talking about. Whether I decide to read it or not depends on if it interests me.

  9. It is crazy that I have all of the books and haven’t cracked them open yet. In my defense, my little sister gave me 1 through 3, I found 4 through 6 at a yard sale and have only bought book 7 on my own. 🙂

    Literary Feline, You are probably right about that. I’ll get to Harry when and if I do. The world won’t stop spinning either way. And, I’ll probably enjoy them if I do.


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