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The Sunday Salon: Bookish Blind Spots

by Kim on May 15, 2011 · 22 comments

The Sunday Salon.com On Friday afternoon I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, NPR MonkeySee’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, which was discussing upcoming summer movies the various participants were excited about. One person mentioned The Help, which will be coming out this August.

I knew the movie was coming out, but hadn’t seen a trailer yet, so popped over to YouTube to find one:

And that’s when I was totally shocked to discover that the main character, Skeeter, was a journalist! How, after skimming a million enthusiastic reviews of this book, could I have missed that major fact? Especially considering that I love (love!) books with journalists in them.

I haven’t read The Help yet, mostly because it got so much hype that I wanted to wait for things to die down a bit. Then time passed and I forgot about it. The book just slipped off my radar. But knowing a newspaper plays a part in the plot of the movie probably would have made me more apt to pick it up in the first place, rather than waiting and then forgetting it entirely.

After I expressed my shock about this turn of events on Twitter, I got to thinking about what other bookish blind spots I might have. Certainly, there are many books I might like that I miss because they’re small or don’t get much publicity. I’m thinking more of popular books that I just ignored but might have enjoyed if I knew some little detail about them that doesn’t matter to most people but strikes my bookish heart in some special way.

I’m also not sure what to do about them. How would I go about finding books that fill my blind spots while still making time for the books I find right away that appeal to me? Is it a constantly loosing battle to figure out what’s worth the time to read and what to just ignore?

What are your bookish blind spots? What do you to try to fill in the gaps? Any books you found out something awesome about that everyone else already knew?

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

rhapsodyinbooks May 15, 2011 at 7:33 am

It is similar for me. I get all enthusiastic about reading a book, and then if I am distracted by other books, or have other book obligations, I “forget” about the book! That’s one thing I love about bloggers reviewing books at different times, so I can get “reminded” about a book I really want to read!

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Kim May 17, 2011 at 8:32 pm

rhapsodyinbooks: Yes, great point — I love when a review pops up later and reminds me of a book I wanted to read.

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Trisha May 15, 2011 at 7:38 am

I hate to say it, but I feel like it is a losing battle. There are just so very many books out there that I know I am missing out on. This is exactly why I have so many unread books on my shelves (in the neighborhood of 250). And if you add in my wish list, we are talking about 600 books that I want to read. That’s like 6 years of reading, and every day I find more books I want to read. It’s a Sisyphean task. Because I naturally find so many books I want to read, I tend to ignore my blind spots. If I suddenly find out that I really like a genre/style/focus that I thought I didn’t like, that will just increase the TBR pile! :)

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Kim May 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Trisha: Oh, it most definitely is a losing battle :) I think that’s why I always want to own books I’m curious about — if they’re on my shelf, I’m less prone to just forget about them. But… then I’d just be drowning in books!

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charley May 15, 2011 at 8:12 am

I hope you enjoy The Help. It is a wonderful story, and I wasn’t ready for it to end.

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Kim May 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm

charley: I’m looking forward to it — I’ve got a copy on hold at the library that’s on the way eventually.

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Aths May 15, 2011 at 9:15 am

That happens to me too. Sometimes I hear of a book from one perspective and so I hear only of certain aspects of it and maybe it doesn’t appeal to me much. Later I read another take on the book and get more details tumbling out. Then I wonder, how I missed it the first time. I like using my narrow lens to select the books that I know will fit into my groove well, but I’m also trying not to be that diligent because I’ve been missing out on some books that I could have enjoyed too. It’s a very difficult thing to manage!

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Kim May 17, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Aths: That’s one reason I like when bloggers write their own summaries — sometimes new little details pop out that intrigue me.

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Meghan May 15, 2011 at 9:34 am

I do this as well! Partly it’s because I try not to read many reviews of books I haven’t read yet. I usually skim them from favourite bloggers or leave comments about them being on my TBR shelves rather than reading in depth. This means I miss things which would attract me to the next great read but I am also less prone to finding spoilers, which is more important personally with fiction.

I also think it’s a losing battle, but as long as I enjoy what I read, I’ll have to live with that.

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Kim May 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Meghan: I try not to read reviews of books I am planning to read too, I don’t want to spoil them. And you make a good point — c’est la vie :)

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Jackie (Farm Lane Books) May 15, 2011 at 9:38 am

I agree with Trisha – it is a losing battle!

I’d also like to mention that the reason you didn’t know The Help contained a journalist is because that is such a tiny part of the story, giving a reason for her investigations. The plot really revoles around the role of the black maids and the weird way the families are prepared to trust them with every aspect of the childcare, but refuse to use the same toilet as them. It is a fantastic book, but I don’t think it will give you much insight into journalism. I hope you decide to read it and enjoy it as much as I did.

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Kim May 17, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Jackie: Thanks for mentioning that — the trailer made it seem like a big deal as part of the story. Even so, that little detail intrigues me. I wasn’t expecting any major insights about being a journalist, but journalists as characters speak to me.

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Vasilly May 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm

If you read The Help, I suggest listening to it on audio. It’s perfect in that format. My reading blind spot (I’m ashamed to say), is books by people of color. Luckily I’m getting better at it.

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Kim May 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Vasilly: Thanks for the recommendation — I need a good audio book soon.

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Jenny May 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I know I have loads of blind spots, but in particular, American literature between, I dunno, Fitzgerald and the 1980s. It’s shocking how little American literature I’ve read from that section of history.

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Kim May 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Jenny: Ahh, yes, modern-ish American literature. I miss a lot of that too.

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Betty - Reflections with Coffee May 16, 2011 at 8:40 pm

I read the Help very soon after it came out, one of the first books I read on my iPhone Kindle app. Was so glad to read it before all the publicity began. Jackie is right, the journalism plays a very small part. Vastly is right, this book opens with a lot of dialect writing which was hard to read at first, I even looked ahead to the next chapter to make sure it didn’t carry out all the way through.

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Kim May 17, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Betty: Thanks for the tips — I bet the dialect writing is very well-done on audio. I do love great audio performances.

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softdrink May 17, 2011 at 8:01 pm

What Jackie said…you know she’s a journalist, but I can’t even remember if she’s actually working for a newspaper. Still, it’s a good read, so please ignore the fact that we all just burst your bubble.

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Kim May 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm

softdrink: Bubble burst!! Ha ha, just kidding. I didn’t think it was a journalistic tome, by any means, but I do like the idea of journalists doing things (even just a little bit :) ).

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Trish May 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I’m sure I have multiple blind spots as I tend to ignore plot summaries when reading reviews. I like to know as little about a book as possible before going into it and oftentimes I’m amazed about what I find. I actually didn’t even know The Help was about black maids during the 60s for a long time! I thought it was about a journalist in New York. Ha. ;)

PS–hope you’re having a great time in New York. Crossing my fingers for next year.

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Kim May 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm

I must skip plot summaries too, Trish, since I never seem to know what books are about :) I like to know just a little about books too, so I can form my own opinions — so funny we thought almost the exact opposite about The Help!

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