Recommends: Subjective is Not a Dirty Word

Oh my god, how much do I love this post? So much.

I have, on several occasions, recommended a book to a friend or family member with the highest praise imaginable, only to have said friend or family member read--and positively hate--the book I loved. I invariably become hurt and defensive when I hear their reactions, because, to me, the book is like a child who can do no wrong. If I loved it, why on earth didn't you?

Well. Because we're different people. Because reading is subjective. And because "no two persons ever read the same book."

That's just two paragraphs. The whole thing is gold and I want to tattoo it on my forehead.

RECOMMENDS! Share 'em!


★☆ keri ☆★ said...

Ooh ooh a thread for recommending our favoritest favorite books that we're worried other people will hate, so we rarely actually recommend them ever? Because that's what I'm about to do.

Adios, Happy Homeland! by Ana Menéndez is one of my #1 favorite reads of the last few years. It's...kind of literary? and it's about flight and flying/fleeing, and memory, and the immigrant experience, and it plays with the concept of identity and time and history and storytelling itself. I find it very accessible for all that it has somewhat magical realism, literary qualities, which makes me self-doubt and worry that maybe I'm just an idiot and it's kind of twee and clunky? but I love the book so very much. Menéndez is a Cuban-American who lives in California, and that informs a lot of the book. It takes place in Cuba and Miami and other places that might not really exist.

The structure of the book is as a series of short stories, excerpts, poems, all supposedly written by someone who isn't Menéndez, and there is even a list of "authors" with brief biographies in the back. But, of course, she made them all up (I think there's a listing for her own name, which suggests that she is the imaginary one, which is something I loved, because of how it played with the concept of authorship and whatnot). And the stories, excerpts, poems, &c. all interlink in some way, whether it's one story beginning with a scene referenced at the end of another, or using a concept that was mentioned off-handedly, stuff like that.

But anyway, the book made me so happy to read it. The whole experience was one of delight and wonder and relishing of the way Menéndez used language. Here is the book on LibraryThing, with my original review from January of this year: and here it is on Goodreads:

Mime_Paradox said...

Stuff I want to write: Tons. Stuff I actually write: an essay on how Mitt Romney is totally a worse person than Dracula from the Castlevania games, combining my game geekery and wonkishness into a mess of links.

Last week, news broke that Fhcrezna naq Jbaqre Jbzna jbhyq orpbzr n pbhcyr in the mainstream DC Universe. For a lot of people, it's yet another sign that the people in charge have no idea what they're doing (I'm one of them), and a disservice to all the characters involved, and the article “Because they are both heroes and wear red and blue”, by DC Women Kicking Ass' Sue explains some of the reasons why.

graylor said...

I've been reading Butterflies and Wheels and found some feminist posts which match up very well with things Ana has said here. For instance, .

Over at Love, Joy, Feminism, Libby Anne has a series about subjective framing in regard to
sexual ethics in her box series.

I've personally been feeling a bit like Leonard of Quirm. I decide to concentrate on one story, finally figure out how it all hangs together, and immediately get hit by ideas for short sories. Not even the sort of short stories I want, but 'What if Twilight was set in The Stand, and Edward really was the asshole everyone but Team Edward perceives him to be?' and 'What if vampires really couldn't change physically?'. And now I must return to my zombie pig world, or maybe the Beauty and the Beast smut... er, 'erotica' thing I'm deluding myself into thinking might actually sell.

Lonespark said...

SRSLY, DC? I... try not to care about mainstream comics because thatway lies heartbreak and yet...Children got me hooked on the Justice League, and now...W.T. F?

Asha said...

I... I...
What the hell is the fascination with pairing Diana and Clark? The only time I have seen it done well was in Kingdom Come, and that was when both characters had gone through so much character development that it made sense. It reminds me of the stupidity of One More Day. Years of character development and mythos blown off in order to make it fit a new writer's vision. Although WW has a history of being ill-defined. Which sucks.

depizan said...

Oh, they've completely changed WW's origin and everything in the New 52. As far as I can tell between the New 52 and One More Day, DC and Marvel are having a "who can have the worst* idea" contest.

Content Note: Mention of rape

Also that cover picture creeps me the fuck out. Not only does it belong on Escher girls (pretty sure there is something, maybe several somethings, wrong with Diana's body) but the stiffness of Diana's body makes it look like she's, at best, not into it and at worst makes it look like rape/sexual assault.

*With plenty of sexism, racism, and other offensive stuff in the pile of fail.

Asha said...

I haven't looked into the new reboot. I'm only a casual fan at best. Yet Wonder Woman is one of those characters that, despite her iconic status, just wasn't handled well. We never remember her villains the way we remember the Joker or Lex Luthor, and often she really does come off as a distaff counterpart to Superman, even more than Supergirl. Outside of Gail Simone's run, I've rarely heard any stories that featured her as being really good. Which sucks. Badly.

redcrow said...

It's good to know you have good days, too. I'm happy for you. Seriously.

Amaryllis said...

I'll agree that "subjective" is not a dirty word. Can we also agree that "objective" also has its merits? Or maybe not objective in the sense of empirical, replicable-- on what scale do you measure "good" or "worthwhile" or "technically accomplished"? Still, those words mean something; can we say "according to the commonly accepted standards, this is a poorly constructed sentence? a badly-plotted story?"

I tend to put books into several categories, myself. There's "I can see it's well written, but it doesn't speak to me." And "It's really not very good, but I'm fond of it anyway." And "This is both technically good and personally resonant." And, "This is as all-around bad as Left Behind." (If it's worse that LB, I don't even want to know.)

Books that we like that no one else does: I know I've raved, here and elsewhere, about Wolf Hall And I know that can't be a minority opinion, what with all those prizes and glowing reviews. But I never seem to run into anyone else, in person or on line, who feels the same way.

"Fhcrezna naq Jbaqre Jbzna"
I think I've been hanging around here too long, and other places where people speak rot-13: I knew what that said without decoding it, and without reading any further comments. And I don't even read those comics.

I'll give my opinion anyway: what a stupid idea.

I followed one of those links to a quote from the WW author along the lines of "Woman" shouldn't even be part of her name, because it diminishes her. Okay. In that case, I look forward to hearing all about Super and Spider and Bat.

depizan said...

I look forward to hearing all about Super and Spider and Bat.

Me too! And it's a good thing we're talking comic books or multiple Bats could get terribly confusing. Though I still look forward to exchanges like "Was it Bat?" "No, it was Bat." "Oh. .... What?"

Silver Adept said...

Oog. That pairing doesn't work. It makes for all sorts of "no!" about the mythos and what the Wonder Woman character is...

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