Book snobs and other musings....

It's a lovely Sunday morning (well, it's is somewhere, just not in south Texas where the heat and humidity are enough to suffocate even the most ardent heat-lover) and A Reader's Respite is hoping that all of you revelers out celebrating America's birthday last night are safe and sound.

All fingers and toes accounted for?


This weekend, as we inexplicably picked up the second installment of Anna Godbersen's The Luxe Books (the first of which, you'll recall, A Reader's Respite skewered in a spiteful review), this one entitled Rumors, we found ourselves wondering a couple of things:

  1. why did we purchase a book that is a sequel to a book we so disliked?
  2. why, precisely, did we dislike the book so very much?

The answer to #1 involves a treacherous journey into the depth's of A Reader's Respite's twisted psyche, so we'll graciously spare you that particular torment. Suffice it to say that it involves forking over cold, hard cash to alleviate our oddly-placed guilt over our scathing review of The Luxe.

In other words: we hated your book, but here is some money to take the sting out of it.

Perfectly rational, wouldn't you say?

The answer to #2 is far more complex and deserves further attention. What is it about certain best-selling books that draws our ire? And if said books are so disliked, why are we all propelling them onto the best-seller lists?

Let's use one of my favorite examples: Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code.

The book everyone loves to hate.

Since original publication in 2003, The DaVinci Code has sold around 40 million copies worldwide. That's right: 40 million copies. And yet, it is a challenge to find a positive review of this novel. This is the book that everyone loves to hate.

Why? The most commonly reason cited is historical inaccuracies. These same reviewers who later lauded Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl are downright spiteful towards Brown's free and easy interpretation of history. Dost we detect hypocrisy? Wethinks we do.

A quick perusal of lit blogs uncovers an almost universal dislike of The DaVinci Code. Anyone who's anyone claims to have disliked the book. And yet, we keep coming back to sales: 40 million copies sold. If it's such an awful book, exactly who keeps buying it? A handful of fans who have purchased ten million copies each?

Similarly, as A Reader's Respite consciously restrained ourselves from hurling Anna Godbersen's Rumors at the nearest wall, we couldn't help but see the similarity between ourselves and the DaVinci-haters. After all, our stated reason for our dislike (and we're sticking to it) is, indeed, historical inaccuracies. Aside from that, we found the technical portion of the books quite acceptably executed. Dialogue flows (however inaccurate in 1899 vernacular), the plot moves along quickly (ie, from one illicit teenage rendezvous to the next), and the characters are sharply developed (developed into snotty whores, that is).

The best we can figure is that evidently historical inadequacies as they pertain to Christian history serve as entertainment to A Reader's Respite, while historical inaccuracies that pertain to a young woman's moral code greatly disturb us. Hypocrisy? Definitely.

Is A Reader's Respite a book snob? Perhaps not, we've decided, after perusing a few blogs. Comparitively speaking, that is. At least we've never written a review entitled The DaVinci Code is a Stepped-On Bag of Pork Rinds.

But we can always aspire to, can't we?


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  2. I think sometimes when a book is so hyped, as The Da Vinci Code has been, it falls flat for some readers because expectations are so high.

  3. I agree with Bermudanonion. That after all the hype about a book it raises your expectation and then when you read it your like WTF? and Why?. I will admit to really, really liking The Da Vinci Code (waiting for the stones to be thrown).

    As ways I enjoyed your post a lot.

  4. I liked the Da Vinci Code! I don't care about inaccuracies as long as the plot is entertaining.

    The Da Vinci Code was a great thriller, but I think the only reason it sold so many copies was because of the religious element and then the snowball effect of noone wanting to be left out the discussion.

  5. I liked the Da Vinci Code, but I didn't think it merited the enormous sales revenue it has generated. (I didn't contribute directly. I got it from the library.) I've read much, much better that didn't get a lick of the kind of attention DVC has gotten. One does wonder how that happens.


  6. I loved the Da Vinci Code. It was a fast paced historical thriller that I found to be highly entertaining. Where the problem lies is when readers forget that it is classified as FICTION.

    Dan Brown was not trying to sell his book as a true historical account...not even close. He wrote a novel full of suspense that was based around SOME historical facts.

    I think you are probably right that because of the "Code's" Christian content it has received an especially harsh backlash as well as overwhelming popularity...the public loves a good controversy!

    Great post!

  7. I bought the Dan Vinci Code and it languished on the pile for three years. It's now in the charity box.

    Glad you are *cough* enjoying Rumors as much as I did. Wait until the bear rug scene.....

  8. I got the DaVinci code as a handmedown from my mom. And then I promptly listed it on paperbackswap where it still sits... along with probably 40 million other copies begging to be swapped. The movie put me to SLEEP TWICE so I am not about to take my chances with the book.

    Another book that I love to hate is the Twilight series. I am going to go run and hide now...

  9. I liked the Da Vinci Code. For what it was--an outlandish thriller/mystery--it succeeded. Who expects "historical accuracy" from those types of books? Do you expect to watch a Bond film and expect it to be accurate & factual?

    Expecting historical accuracy from a contemporary thriller like the DVC and expecting it from a historical novel are two different things. The latter is completely unreasonable.

  10. Loved your post as usual, I always find something that cracks me up!

    I'm with Marie on this one, it took me 2 goes to watch The Da Vinci Code and I did like it but I certainly won't be taking my chances with the book...I think I'd get more stimulation from watching paint dry.

  11. I read and liked the DaVinci Code as trashy entertainment. I don't really care about historical inaccuracies. The writing was pretty pedestrian, which I think is what ticks some people off. I find myself with attitude towards certain bestsellers, and boycott them at all costs. The Shack was one of those books. It drives me crazy to hear people get this glazed look in their eyes when they wax lovingly about the book. I refuse to read it.

  12. Oh so much hype behind this one! I couldn't get into the movie...and didn't think the book would do it for me either..but anyway; I just dropped by to say HI:)

  13. I think we all are book snobs in some way or the other. My dad doesn't read many English books but he loved Da Vinci Code. He could not get into any other book after that. He thought they were too slow.
    So I bought him Angels and Demons yesterday :)

    I liked Da Vinci Code too, mainly bcoz I'm not a Christian and I would not know if any historical details are correct or not. As a thriller it was really good.

    Are you going to review the sequel on your blog too? :)

  14. Love your post! But I liked Rumors just fine and I own Envy! I guess I'm shallow. And I was also a bad aunt because I sent them to my niece (14 years old), and she read them too. I'm preparing to be drummed out of book blogger ville.

    Does this mean that when I am Seattle next year Ms RR will refuse to meet me for coffee??

  15. I also picked up Rumors this weekend after disliking The Luxe. I'm hoping it gets better and when booksamillion has a "buy two get third free sale" I tend to lose my self control.
    Personally, I liked The Da Vinci Code. I do know that one of the only reason it has become so (in)famous is due to the religious people throwing a hissy fit. So of course most people wanted to see what the fuss was about.

  16. Guilt is a terrible thing. I've always wondered about the folks who say they hated Twilight, and then talk about how they also hated the other books in the series. As others have said, it may be that certain books (or movies or TV shows) become so big that folks feel they have to get in on the conversation -- even if it's about hating the experience.

  17. I'm w/ Bermudaonion. I just did not "get" all the fanfare around The Da Vinci Code -- I wanted to read it, but it was boring from the start.

    I tried again but zzz...

  18. Well I loved Da Vinci, it kept me hooked and I didn't put it down till I was done with it!
    I loved Angels and Daemons which i read much earlier! :)

    I am not sure about the historical inaccuracies, but there is one thing i have noticed when I saw the movie version recently. In the book, when Langdon is discussing with the Sofie and the professor [ whose name I forgot] about the Da Vinci's Last Supper - in the book it says there are 12 [ i m sorry if i got the number wrong cups] where as in the movie, they say there is no chalice. phew! I am not sure but i thin the movie version is correct :)


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