Booking Through Thursday: Peer Pressure


Kudos to my friend JM for asking this week’s Booking Through Thursday question:

I was looking through books yesterday at the shops and saw all the Twilight books, which I know basically nothing about. What I do know is that I’m beginning to feel like I’m the *only* person who knows nothing about them.

Despite being almost broke and trying to save money, I almost bought the expensive book (Australian book prices are often completely nutty) just because I felt the need to be ‘up’ on what everyone else was reading.

Have you ever felt pressured to read something because ‘everyone else’ was reading it? Have you ever given in and read the book(s) in question or do you resist? If you are a reviewer, etc, do you feel it’s your duty to keep up on current trends?

Of course I’ve felt pressure to read something because everyone else is. Not just the best-sellers, either. Laurell K. Hamilton> comes immediately to mind; I had to find out what was going on with this Anita Blake chick.

MaryJanice Davidson (who is an absolute doll) is another. Charlaine Harris. Carrie Vaughn.

The LKH is the only one that disappointed, and then not until the third or fourth Anita book that I read (out of order, but that wasn’t my issue with the series).

(yeah, I noticed, too, that they are all paranormals. Shows you what my online peer group is into, huh?)

There have been few best-sellers that haven’t disappointed in one way or another. The Kite Runner bothered me with its brutality (and now my book club talked me into reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, which I absolutely do not want to read because I hear it’s even more brutal). Even The Secret Life of Bees let me down; I’d read that plot before. I’m expecting more of the same from The Time-Traveller’s Wife (which is near the top of Mt. TBR) and the good old DaVinci Code, which is still buried in the mountain.

Now, as for that last question… as a reviewer, do I feel compelled to follow the trends?

Absolutely not. In fact, I feel compelled to buck the trends and find gems that may have been overlooked. You can read all of my reviews over at Front Street Reviews, including my most recent one, for a book called Black Wolf on Tour.

After all, if everyone is talking about the same ten or twenty books, how is anyone going to hear about the thousands (literally) that are being overshadowed?

As a writer and a reader, it’s my quest to bring attention to those oft-overlooked books.



  1. Justice Jonesie

    September 4, 2008 10:21 am

    I have succumbed to this pressure sometimes but never ended up reading the books. Some of those books include, The Purpose Driven Life, The Secret, and Your Best Life Now. I did end up getting the audio tapes for Your Best Life and thoroughly enjoyed it. I should do that for the other books.

  2. Amy Ruttan

    September 4, 2008 10:35 am

    It’s an honorable quest. 🙂


    September 4, 2008 10:47 am

    Wait… the Twilight books? Have I been living under a rock? What are those?

  4. On a limb with Claudia

    September 4, 2008 1:34 pm

    hee hee… it’s amazing how peer pressure works with books! Now adults are worrying about reading a YA series….

  5. Susan Helene Gottfried

    September 4, 2008 2:14 pm

    True! ’cause last time, it was adults causing a stampede for a kid’s book — Harry Potter. BR/BR/We’re catching up to ourselves.

  6. Tilly Greene

    September 4, 2008 2:24 pm

    I tend to run the other way when lots of people jump on a band wagon about a book, song, movie, whatever and start spouting praise from the rooftops. BR/BR/The only time I caved was with Harry Potter and then only because my nephew begged me to. Once the last book was about to be released the cutie and I read through them all. We were entertained and the nephew was thrilled – enough.

  7. Alice Audrey

    September 4, 2008 5:35 pm

    But I don’t know anything about them either.

  8. Dar

    September 4, 2008 7:17 pm

    Hey Susan, I do end up reading a lot of the popular books and I love LKH although these last books of hers aren’t grabbing me like the ones in the beginning.BR/BR/I do agree with you though on the loads of books out there by new authors, etc that end up being such gems. Somebody has to read those and get them out there too-I like being on the lookout for ones like that.

  9. Maddy

    September 4, 2008 7:48 pm

    I’ve given in sometimes as I feel I’m missing out. It’s usually a mistake apart from then being in the know.BR/BR/My daughter has just been sorting through all my books and has declared a cull! I’m all a quiver!BR/Cheers

  10. Jennifer

    September 4, 2008 11:29 pm

    Peer pressure … I am not totally tapped into what is going on in the outside world (for the most part), so I often don’t know what everyone is reading. Of course, this didn’t stop me from hearing about The DaVinci Code, or The Secret, but I haven’t read them.BR/BR/I have a friend who does read all this stuff, and she sometimes passes books on to me. She’s doing her best to keep me connected.

  11. Thomma Lyn

    September 5, 2008 5:15 am

    I haven’t done “Booking Through Thursday” in a long time, but what a great question!BR/BR/Nah, I don’t read books just to be “up” on what other people are reading. I haven’t read the first word of Harry Potter, DaVinci Code, or the Twilight books. I read what I think / hope will appeal to me. BR/BR/I liked the Khaled Hosseini books (loved the characters — thought they were wonderfully drawn), but yes, the brutality is harrowing. And Time Traveler’s Wife was okay, but there are plot holes — a huge one in particular — that just about made me wanna rip my hair out!

  12. samulli

    September 5, 2008 6:01 am

    He, he, don’t even get me started on this Twilight drivel. 😉 But do yourself a favour and keep the DaVinci Code buried deep inside your Mt. TBR (or, better yet, give it away unread, preferably to somebody you don’t like very much). It is really a waste of time to read it. I know because I did. 🙂

  13. Rene

    September 5, 2008 10:06 am

    I got sucked into the “Twilight” thing, at least the first book. I got pressured into the “DaVinci Code.” I’d have rather been beaten with a baseball bat, it would have been less painful. I got pressured into “Anita Blake” as well and I like those books for awhile. “Lovely Bones” was another pressure read. BR/BR/BTW, the brutality in the “Kite Runner” (another pressure read) bothered you but it didn’t in the “Anita Blake” books? Both are works of fiction and LKH murders a child in one.

  14. Susan Helene Gottfried

    September 5, 2008 4:44 pm

    I know, Rene. It makes little sense — until you consider that The Kite Runner was more closely based on real-life happenings. That’s the difference.

  15. Kim Smith

    September 5, 2008 8:34 pm

    Oh Susan! What a great question you have posed! i absolutely have been pressured like that and yes, the Twilight books are some of the latest “pressurers” 🙂 — I still haven’t given in though, as several people have disliked the last book so much they say don’t bother. Sad isn’t it?BR/BR/I, too, am a LKH dropout. Sigh. What is it about series books??

  16. Winter

    September 5, 2008 10:41 pm

    I am evil incarnate. You have mail.

  17. Bob-kat

    September 6, 2008 9:26 am

    Kudos to you for doing just that. I came across The Rabbi’s Cat becasue of you!BR/BR/The only book I have felt pressured to read were the Harry Potter ones. I tried to read one or two but they just weren’t for me. I just don’t like JK’s writing.

  18. JM

    September 7, 2008 8:08 am

    Amen and well said. 🙂 BR/BR/Thankfully, I’m not ‘tuned in’ enough to the world to notice all the trends. Still, sometimes my natural curiosity is an annoying thing…

  19. b

    September 7, 2008 6:20 pm

    I just returned from our Barnes and Noble. As I walked by the ‘We might give these novels away some day’ book rack, I thought about all the really good but unusual books that find their was to that place. Like you, I have discovered that popular does not necessarily mean good. BR/BR/bBR/BR/I love it when a book on Amazon allows you a look inside and a few pages of reading. Don’t you?

  20. Susan Helene Gottfried

    September 7, 2008 6:58 pm

    Nope, b. Sorry. I haven’t used Amazon for books for awhile now.

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