Book Hype: rebel or cave?

deathly hallows

I have a confession to make.

Book hype tends to turn me off.

I struggle with this at times.  I know I am most likely missing out on some great books. There generally is a reason for all of the hype. 


It took me a few years to get over the hype and pick up a book already. I remember reading the book reviews and about the midnight book release parties in the paper. I remember thinking, I would probably like those books. I kind of wanted to be at those parties. . . But I just couldn’t bring myself to pick one up. Believe me, I tried.  Whenever I was at the bookstore, sometimes I’d wander over to where Harry Potter was hiding out and just stare at them.

It took my annual Thanksgiving trip to New Mexico for me to finally grab one. The reason? I had forgotten to pack books for the plane. (How I did that, I have no clue). I browsed the little bookshop at the airport and nothing really looked appealing. Then I saw the Harry Potter books.  I was still a little dubious, but I bought it anyway.

It was love at first sight.

I was so enthralled that as much as I wanted to keep reading once I’d hit my aunt’s house, I managed to wait until everyone went to bed. I finished it that night and felt like a crack addict because I didn’t have the second book ready and waiting. On the trip home I bought the second and third books.

I believed I gobbled those up during the rest of the weekend.  Upon finishing, I immediately sought out book four, which took a couple of extra days to complete because of its heft. Then I went back to the store, naively thinking there was a fifth one ready and waiting. I didn’t know yet that they weren’t all published and people had been waiting longer than I had for the fifth installation. However, I learned quickly and joined the legions of uber-fans, awaiting the book release, and attended my first midnight party at Barnes and Noble a year and a half later.

harry potter party

So it takes me a while at times to get over the hype.

Currently, I am feeling this reluctance towards The Millennium and The Hunger Game series. So many people in my life are reading/have read them and continue to rave about how good the books are. At first I was resolutely not going to read them, but I feel myself wavering a smidge. I am growing curious. I think ultimately I’d most likely enjoy them.  I doubt I’d become a super fan, but if I don’t read them, am I depriving myself of a delightful and engaging reading experience? Am I missing all the fun?

How do you feel about hype? Does it hinder you? Or does it get you excited about the books and inspire you to read them?

photo credits: first one-Bloomberg News Photo, the second one is mine.

This entry was posted in Bookish Thoughts, Posts by Jehara. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Book Hype: rebel or cave?

  1. Kimberly says:

    Ooooh man, I hear ya on the book hype. It’s not just with books for me, either — anything that gets a lot of hype, I tend to avoid it like the plague. If I’m genuinely interested, I check it out when the hype dies down; more often than not, the hype passes, and I’m no worse off for staying away from it.

    Kind of the same when it comes to books, although I like to think that I give them more of a chance. I was a little late to the HP bandwagon as well, resisting the pull, and then my friend’s mom insisted that it was fantastic while visiting her daughter one weekend. I picked up her copy and, like you, was immediately drawn in. Similarly, my boss is obsessed with Twilight, and after resisting the pull, agreed to read it. Ugh. I was not impressed, to say the least. But hey, I gave it a shot. I tend to take something recommended much more to heart than if it’s been buoyed by good publicity.

    I like to think that I’m . . . well, savvy maybe isn’t the right word . . . but at least aware enough to know when something is getting hype because it’s topical, or because it’s riding on the coattails of something else, or because it’s genuinely good. If I think I’ll really enjoy something — a book, say! — for what it is, then I read it in spite of the hype; if I think that the hype is just a lot of crap, then I generally steer clear.

    • jehara says:

      Topical hype I can easily ignore. It is the hype for things that I know I could like or would like that I find myself resisting. Although I don’t really understand why I do this. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who pushes against hype. And I would say you definitely are savvy if you can tell the difference between crap hype and good hype. 😉

      • Annie says:

        I’m like you too Jehara and agrre with the end of your post ! But it’s a difficult thing.
        I’m like this, I think, because I often have been deceived by hype (books or films) and was after that angry !

  2. Heather says:

    There’s only been Harry Potter that I’ve caved to on the hype! Twilight was really great the first read and the second reads made me realize what a horrible story it actually was…now Millennium and Hunger Games. Hunger Games are pretty good. Don’t quite live up to the hype. But are still fun and really interesting. Millennium…I cheated and watched the movies first which are awesome but they are really violent which made me wonder if I actually wanted to spend the time reading through some of those really dark parts….so I’m up in the air as well about Millennium. Good story, though, whether you end up watching the movies only or reading them or both.

    • jehara says:

      I feel so ambivalent about Twilight. I am definitely not an uber fan at all. However, I read the first books because chauceriangirl lent me her copy. I read the whole series. I even went to the midnight release party for Breaking Dawn. Not because of any fervor felt on my part, but out of wistfulness for the loss of HP. I just wanted to be a part of something and did enjoy myself (mainly because I was with friends). To be honest, the Harry Potter experience for me has been one of a kind. I don’t know if any other book or series will inspire that sort of fandom in me. So far it’s just HP and Joss.

    • Annie says:

      I heard so good things about Millenium, that I bought it quickly ! But I didn’t like the book (too much “free”violence-I don’t know if this expression is good in english !-)So I didn’t bought the other books nor watched the film. !

  3. Bumbles says:

    I don’t avoid something because of hype. I don’t necessarily let hype push me towards it either. For me, if it sounds interesting regardless of how I heard of it or how often I heard of it, I will check it out in my own time. I have never rushed out and bought something because of hype. But hype has brought many things to my attention. Most important for me is to know who is generating the hype. If it is friends/family/bloggers whose opinions I know and trust in relation to my own, all the better. If it is purely media or a group dissimilar to me and my tastes, I wait it out and let people I trust be my guinea pigs ;0)

    All that said – I am a big creator of hype. If I watch, read, taste, wear something that I feel is the greatest thing since sliced bread I am going to tell everyone I know until I am satisfied I cannot spread the love any further.

    • jehara says:

      I do recommend books I’ve read, but not consistently. If I think someone I know would enjoy it then I’ll try to remember to mention it. I definitely appreciate personally generated hype more than media hype. 😉

  4. 80% of the time I cave to the hype and read it. For the most part I’ve found it has been justified and I loved the book.

  5. Janet says:

    Here’s something funny…I was exactly like you regarding the Harry Potter books. While visiting friends in NYC, I finished the book I brought with me and started looking through their books. Noticed a Harry Potter one (not the first, I think maybe the 3rd) and decided to pick it up and see what all the hype was about. I. was. hooked!!! Soon as I got home, I picked up all 4 books and as luck would have it, was in England in 2003 when the 5th book came out, which was fun 🙂

    I read The Hunger Game when I was in the hospital for the spinal surgery. It was pretty good, but really, the premise is SO dark!

    Seeing as how we seem to have similar tastes, I think you might like it, too 🙂

    • jehara says:

      Ok. You liked it. I’m gonna try it. You read Chocolat and loved it so I will give this a chance too. I probably will like it. I do have a penchant for dystopia among other things.

  6. izzybella says:

    Here’s a problem I have with hyped books. In my little heart of hearts I want to believe the hype, and more hype I hear, the more excited I get to read the hyped book. By the time I finally read it, I expect it to be the BEST BOOK I’VE EVER READ EVER!!!! And it never is. Case in point: The Lovely Bones. I resisted that one for so long and then finally caved. I read it and and at first I really, really enjoyed it. It was such a unique way of twisting a story and I got really invested in the characters and then…I got to the end. And I threw the book across the room because it pissed me off so much. I profoundly hate the ending of that book-it feels like the first 3/4 was written by someone completely different than the person who wrote that last 1/4.

    And almost every extra hyped book I have ever read since then has something that just pissed me off. I will, however, state categorically that Hunger Games is the exception that proved the rule. It is NOT light reading, so I wouldn’t pick it up when you need a laugh or a comfort book. But it’s easily one of the most well-written, emotionally engaging book series I have ever read. It a heart-breaker and it doesn’t let up. So let me add to the hype. 🙂

  7. I totally get avoiding things because of hype. I have allowed myself to do that rather a lot. But last year when I decided to read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo–and totally loved it—despite all the hype, I’ve started being a little more adventurous. It’s been hit or miss; some things I’ve enjoyed more than others, and I do read reviews to try to help myself decide whether I want to try a book that’s widely hyped. I would be sad to have missed that book, or the Hunger Games series, just because of the hype.

    • jehara says:

      I’m still not sure I will enjoy the Millennium series. I may try it out on the Kindle one of these days. Most likely I will watch the movies before I read the books. However, I would be sooo missing out if I had never picked up Harry Potter. I so love that series and really enjoyed being a part of the midnight release parties. What will I do once the last movie has been released? No more Harry Potter to look forward to. *sigh*

      So yeah, I definitely get that aspect of it.

  8. kaye says:

    I cave about 50% of the time–I tend to investigate the plot and author first and if it sounds like something I’ll like I’m on the hype wagon playing in the band. My current love is the kindle–I don’t know why, but I think I’ve got to convince everyone to buy one. So far I’ve sold three just because I let them play with mine.

    • jehara says:

      I can usually tell what I would like and wouldn’t like. It’s just that for whatever reason, hype creates a barrier for me around the books I know I would most likely enjoy. I don’t know if it’s because I am being rebellious or what. It just takes me time to give in to what is inevitable when it comes to books. 😉

      Re: the Kindle. I love mine too. I am so surprised by how much I enjoy it that I rave about it to anyone who asks. Like this morning a girl on the train approached me asking me about the Kindle because she is considering getting one. I couldn’t stop gushing about it. And now she is going to get one this weekend, or so she said. So, I suppose, despite resisting hype, I do tend to create my own too. Contradictory? Perhaps. . .

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