Thursday, January 7, 2010

Know Thyself

I did something today that I never thought I would; I declined a free book. Yes, you read that right. I, Zombie Girrl, book fanatic and review extraordinaire, turned down a book.
I won Tricks by Ellen Hopkins the other day from Diane of The Book Resort.
From the get go I was uncertain about this book and whether I could handle it, but Diane's review was excellent, so I entered the contest anyway, sorta just for the heck of it, ya know?
Innitially, I was really excited about winning the book, mostly because I was looking forward to giving my thoughts on it. I was envisioning a review that would tear at your heart as much as the book was certain to tear at mine, but then I read some reviews, both from bloggers and professionals, and the recurring theme was "Poignant and gut-wrenching." Gut-wrenching? Now, I've read plenty of gut-wrenching stories; The Book Thief for the loss of life, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas for the loss of innocence, Speak because of Melinda's silent suffering, but teen prostitution? Kids abandoned or thrown out and just longing to be loved? Could I handle that kind of sadness? Could I read about that kind of desolation without being able to reach out and hold that poor soul? Without being able to do anything but know?
I mulled it over for the rest of the day and then some more the next morning. Is a review worth losing my peace of mind over? Because that's what this story would do to me; I would lose sleep over those poor, fictional kids.
So, after much thought and consideration, I turned this book down.
The writing is probably fabulous. The characters sound real as life. Even the cover is gorgeous, in an ugly sort of way. But I know what my limits are, and as I told Diane in my decline email, this book would push me way beyond them.
The question I have for y'all is: Where do you draw the line? Are there some books or subjects that you just can't bring yourself to read? Have you ever turned down a perfectly good book?

Zombie Girrrl


Misty said...

I've been wanting to read that one for some time. I generally don't draw the line when subject is concerned; I actually like to push myself and read difficult things to try to grasp some understanding, if possible. And I like lit that can move me and make me connect. I won't, however, read something hateful. I have no interest in trying to get into the brain of some racist windbag asshole, etc., so those I'll take a pass on...

Orchid said...

I have yet to find what I'd draw the line for reading about. Better to turn it down, then to wind up with a book that would upset you. :)

Nickles said...

Oh, definitely there are books and subjects I won't read. Such as not reading something that hits too close to a traumatic event in life that I may have experienced for fear it might open up a personal Pandora's box.

But there are also many tough books I've read that has taken a lot out of me emotionally (for example The Jungle aka The Most Depressing Book Ever) that have been incredibly rewarding once I finished it.

Therefore, I always make sure to read reviews and a little bit of the book before I invest my time in it.

Taschima Cullen said...

Oh there are a lot of subjects I just don't care about reading. It depends on the person really, I just can't read a book that would bore me.

pirate penguin said...

Wow. Kudos for considering your personal feelings over accepting a free product! I'm familar with Ellen Hopkin's writing style and it's true: it makes you cringe/cry/feel scared because her writing is so honestly brutal and raw that you just want to pull a wool over your eyes and pretend that what happens in those books could never happen in real life. But they do.

uh, where was I going with this? OH RIGHT. I know my tastes pretty well and unless a specific book REALLY captures my attention, (and it's not within the usual genres I read) then I'll read it. But that happens so rarely. (Although... that actually happened to me today!) I want to read this book called The Reliable Wife and it's NOT YA and it's gothic suspense or something of the sort. D:

To end my directionless comment, your peace of mind is worth so much more than a free book. So good for you on making that well thought-out decision :)

loreleimarsh said...

I don't have a limit. I have read some of the most horrible and brutal things imaginable for classes in college and so nothing in the fictional world bothers me anymore. Real people have done far worse.

But still, when I choose to read a book like Tricks or Living Dead Girl, I go in with a certain mindset and know what I am getting in to. Hope that helps and you should never make yourself suffer for a hobby.

boatbuilding said...

Peace! is right on the bullseye with her answer. We do that now and have so much distress and turmoil because many of us do not love ourselves. We treat others as we feel about ourselves and since so many people feel unworthy of love, we lash out at others. People who are rude or abuse others are very poor in spirit.

Rabid Fox said...

Turned down a free book? Since I started blogging, no I haven't. That could change if I start getting solicited by authors or publishers with dubious works they want to promote.

In day to day life, the only free books I've declined have been used books by authors I'm not into, so I trade them in for book credit--I still take the books. :)

Anonymous said...

I do draw the line
I think that life will get hard on it's own at different times, so I don't need to bring other people's drama and pain (even if just fictional) to my world, because I am the kind of girl who gets really emotionally invested in the stuff I read, so I definitely avoid trauma porn.

Sometimes I make exceptions, like when I read Speak, but it's only very once in a while and usually it's by surprise, like when I read something and I'm not sure what's about until I'm already emotionally invested and want to keep see how it all ends.


Becky said...

I feel like I need to draw the line more and more because I can't keep up with the reading I have to do. I am hardly entering any contests at th mo through the fear of winning them.

As for the sadness in the story, I can completely understand why you didn't want to put yourself through it.

miss cindy :) said...

you have an award here :)

hmsgofita said...

I've never declined a book since I don't enter that many contests anyway...but there are some books I know I can't the Boy in the Striped Pajamas...I watched the movie and bawled for an was gut-wrenching and just horrible...I could barely handle the movie and I know the book would be worse since i knew what would happen and yet I couldn't read fast enough to get it over with. So I think you made a good decision... there are just some things we need to take a break from.

I have an award for you!

Lauren said...

Now that's an interesting question. I've turned down a book when I haven't had time to read a lot (ie something I'm not that keen to read and would have to struggle to fit in). However, if it were a book I wanted to read but was scared would trouble me... I'd probably just give it a try anyway. I think you probably did the right thing for you though. If you're deliberating over a book that much there must be a serious chance it'll upset you more than is necessary.

Zombie Girrrl said...

Thanks for the feedback y'all! Keep it coming!

This has given me a lot of food for thought. What I'm really coming away from your comments with, though, is that I might have to brave the dangerous waters of Tricks or Living Dead Girl someday. Just not now. Maybe when I'm 40 or so and I've developed some emotional calluses.

Another question: What have some of y'all taken away from traumatic books like these? Did you learn a lesson or gain any new perspective?

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I completely support your decision. Your peace of mind is far more important than a book review. We can't read every book so just concentrate on the ones that will enrich your life.

I used to feel bad if I shied away from a book because the gut-wrenching content didn't appeal to me, but no more. I read for pleasure and what each individual enjoys is a personal choice that they shouldn't feel bad about for apologize for.

Read what you want and be happy!

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