That Book

A couple of friends and I went and saw Private Lives by Noel Coward this evening, in the open air at Wadham College. Very good, and very funny. Perhaps not quite as good as the student version I saw six years ago, which used physical comedy better than I’ve ever seen it done before or since, but you can’t fault Coward’s acerbic lines. All good fun, if you’re in the Oxford area I recommend you try and see it. And a plot that is very like A.A. Milne’s play The Dover Road. Which, I might add, came first by nine years.

And then I’ve spent the rest of the evening packing up boxes of books, in preparation for moving across Oxford at the end of the week. Only a few minutes away, but that doesn’t make much odds when it comes to getting all the books off every surface, and filling boxes… my bookcases are looking very bare, but the floor and my bedside table still hold more books than the average family owns, I should imagine.

A few have been kept out deliberately, of course. To read in between packing and moving, more especially to accompany me to and from Northern Ireland this week. One of which is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. My book group is reading it this month, and I wasn’t remotely interested in reading it, because of all the hype – but a few people said it was good, so I decided to overcome my prejudices and give it a go.

Anybody read it? And do you have the same instinct I have to avoid things that have been hugely hyped? Then again, I know a few people who have avoided Harry Potter for that reason, and they’re missing something of a treat.

Sorry for a short post – I have kept out a few other books to review, but not sure how much energy I’m going to have to do it in between packaging up my belongings… and here’s hoping the internet behaves at our new residence!

Let me know your thoughts on the Steig Larsson, and hyped books generally. And are there any uber-popular books I’ve been missing out on because of my prejudice? (I’ve been scarred for life by giving The Da Vinci Code a try…. eurgh, makes me feel dirty).

17 thoughts on “That Book

  • July 25, 2010 at 10:11 pm
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    It's a great read. Absorbing, exciting, demanding. Can't put it down because you have to know what's going on.

    Stieg breaks a few rules, what with lots of backstory and introspection but it all works.

    Though I'm surprised it's a book group book. It's a superior thriller. Just go ahead and enjoy.

    But don't get too crazy about Stieg. As you probably know, he wrote 3 books and then died.

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  • July 25, 2010 at 10:16 pm
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    I'll add this: sometimes books are hyped because so many people enjoyed them so much. (Actually, I only ever heard negative hype about Da Vinci Code, so never bothered with it.)

    Oh, and then go see the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movie. One of those rare times when the movie closely follows the book.

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  • July 25, 2010 at 10:23 pm
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    I though this book was great too! I've just finished the second one and can't wait to start reading the third. I also take a while to read new and hyped up books, and when I do get them it normally takes me a year to get around to reading them, but I always end up enjoying them.

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  • July 25, 2010 at 11:03 pm
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    Yes, yes, and double yes. :) I resist popular and mass-marketed books like crazy (thus, I have not read the The Girl books). Once Oprah sticks her sticker on it, I can't get far enough away. I, too, finally gave in to The DaVinci Code and still regret it. The flip side of my snobbery is that I do miss some good new stuff. Not Harry Potter, though. I pre-ordered those babies.

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  • July 25, 2010 at 11:29 pm
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    I tend to avoid the hyped books as well, especially (and this is terribly snobbish of me I know) if they're hyped among people who don't read all that much. I've found it's often better to wait and see if it's still being talked about a few years down the road. If they're really good, they will be.
    I do have a few friends with utterly reliable taste who can talk me into the book of the moment if they liked it (and one of them hated The Girl Who, so I've put it off my list for now).

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  • July 25, 2010 at 11:32 pm
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    I read the first and second one in early 2009 before the hype started and then the third as soon as it came out in Australia.

    I think the hype is justified for a change he is a great writer and it is a very evocative portrayal of life and politics in Sweden.

    My main complaint is it is pretty violent.

    Oh and the third book is the best of all.

    I don't generally read hyped uber popular books but let's face it sometimes the masses are right. I am actually surprised they are as popular as they are. They are not exactly a light read.

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  • July 25, 2010 at 11:44 pm
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    I have to agree with Sara C and Teresa — if Oprah puts a sticker on it, I try to avoid it, and if the recommendation comes from a non-reader, I don't hear much of it. :/

    I haven't read any of these books — they've been just too over-hyped for me. And, they just don't sound like my style…Jane mentioned the violence, and that's probably enough to keep me away, but I will anxiously await your review! That said, The Help has been hugely popular and I highly recommend it as a "shouldn't-be-missed." :)

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  • July 26, 2010 at 2:42 am
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    I am torn. I tried the first in the series (the Dragon Tattoo one), but couldn't get beyond the first 50 pages or so. It just didn't pull me in. Having said that, everyone I know — from avid readers to readers with sophisticated taste to readers with more "low-brow" preferences to readers who usually eschew the thriller genre — ALL loved it.

    But will I bring this in my bag on my upcoming vacation? Probably not. Life is too short.

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  • July 26, 2010 at 8:06 am
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    I was probably one of the people who urged you to read it. I'm on the second one now and finding it just as enthralling. Such big issues dealt with, such fascinating characters, such page turning plots. I do hope you will enjoy it! and best of luck with the move — I sympathise.

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  • July 26, 2010 at 8:44 am
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    Hype in books – I don't care either way; and what could possibly be more hyped-up that the novels of Ms Austen? Oh I forgot, she's read by "proper" readers …

    Miaow!

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  • July 26, 2010 at 9:27 am
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    I normally run away from hyped books, but I will read them when the hype has died down. I'm not remotely interested in The Girl..books and not just because they're hyped, just because I don't like the sound of the plot, etc. As Susan D says sometimes books are hyped for a reason and I have read some great 'hyped' books, but most of the time I find them to be a disappointment. So I steer clear. Plus I hate to look like yet another sheep following the latest literary trend on the train in the morning!

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  • July 26, 2010 at 8:43 pm
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    I rarely read hyped books at the time they are being hyped, unless it's borrowed from a friend and is on a deadline or similar.

    I was originally quite interested in these, but now there is less hyper and more of my trusted reader friends have told their opinions, I hesitate to pick up the trilogy since I have heard that there is a lot of gratuitous graphic violence against women. I don't mind violence if this is part of the story, but people have told me the story could go on without the gory details. However, if my sources are ill informed, please let me know and I can always reconsider… :-)

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  • July 26, 2010 at 8:43 pm
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    I rarely read hyped books at the time they are being hyped, unless it's borrowed from a friend and is on a deadline or similar.

    I was originally quite interested in these, but now there is less hyper and more of my trusted reader friends have told their opinions, I hesitate to pick up the trilogy since I have heard that there is a lot of gratuitous graphic violence against women. I don't mind violence if this is part of the story, but people have told me the story could go on without the gory details. However, if my sources are ill informed, please let me know and I can always reconsider… :-)

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  • July 26, 2010 at 10:03 pm
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    I usually avoid hyped books, but I picked up Girl With the Dragon Tatoo when it first came out over here because it sounded good. It was quite a page-turner, but I felt like I needed to take a shower when I was done.

    Some books DO live up their hype and are worth reading; Cutting for Stone was one of those for me.

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  • July 26, 2010 at 10:15 pm
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    I don't think an Oprah sticker automatically means a cheesy read. Remember The Poisonwood Bible?

    If in doubt, we have other sources we can check with (such as our favourite book blogs) to see what trusted fellow-readers say.

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  • July 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm
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    I, too, avoid hyped books…be they dragon, Harry Potter or otherwise. Recently read HP at the urging of my best friend and my brother. I didn't find it the great writing they told me to expect. I was disappointed to say the least. Stieg? I suppose I am going to have to try his books. I am wondering how it is going for you…

    Angie

    my new blog
    http://www.boundtogetherforgood.blogspot.com

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  • August 12, 2010 at 2:26 pm
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    I shan't reply to every comment on this post, because you now know that I found the book awful, and so many of you enjoyed it! I don't know how we ended up with such different results…

    (but Harry Potter is fab! Not the best writing, but enthralling)

    Reply

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