The other day I was in need of a book so I dropped into Whitcoulls. Not my normal preference, but I was in an area where that was what was available. And they sell lots of books so surely there was one that might suit me.
And I found what I keep finding at the moment, that any book I pick up to read the back of or flick through seems to be about a woman at home whose kids have grown and left or who doesn’t yet have kids and wonders if she wants them or whose kids are in their teens or in fact in any kind of setup with kids or stepkids, and she is wondering about the meaning of life so she gets a job or she starts an affair or she joins a gym or she does something to bring some change to her life, and then we read how she copes with that and what she gets out of it. Sooooo – I don’t know what. Drab? Boring? erm, Predictable? Why are there so many of these books following this basic formula?
Is it me? I know people are going to say I’m being unfair and really I love my life by Another Authoress is a seminal (ovular?) piece of modern literature that will be studied by PhD students for centuries to come, but I’ve read a few now that do not pass my test, which is, “will I read it again.” Why did I buy them in the first place? Good question, probably because I had it in my head that I absolutely had to have a book with me when I went on the bus/to get some lunch/to the airport or whatever.
I noted all this with my blogger’s eye on the day it happened, but didn’t jot it here thinking it was probably me just not able to spend proper time on browsing. Browsing is a skill. It’s demanding. Maybe that day I just wasn’t up to it.
But today Make Tea has talked about authors commenting on blogs that review them and their works, and by following links I found myself in several places within a very short time, all discussing different works from different authors that all appear to follow the basic plotline above.
So it’s not me on a bad day, it’s not Whitcoulls’ buyer only liking one sort of book, it’s not the cover-art triggering the “pick me up” response in me, it appears to be true. There’s a lot of this stuff about.
I know if I call it “post-feminist claptrap” I’ll upset people. I don’t know if it is anything to do with feminism, although I believe die-hards will say that everything is to do with feminism. Is it somehow symptomatic of western women’s inability to resolve this stay-at-home vs not-stay-at-home dilemma? The message seems to be that this is a hard question with no clear answer. Is that helpful?
I will add at this point that there are lots of books I did not pick up because they did not have the appropriate form factor. I want to be able to read the book holding it in one hand. It has to be sufficiently small that I can read it lying down. An awful lot of books have come out in a taller, wider format with large print. No thanks. Often they come out smaller later on so I’ll wait for that kthxbai.
Books are commissioned by publishers because they think they will sell, and then they package them in a way to appeal to their target. Clearly a few of these books achieved the sales objective with yours truly, except I obviously wasn’t the target. Am I the only reader of “normal” sized books that doesn’t want to read this stuff? Am I a square peg in a round hole, again? Are these books the opium of the masses?
Maybe I need to read more literature reviews to get an idea of who’s writing what these days. Maybe I’m just out of touch and looking in the wrong parts of the alphabet.