Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Books Are A Subjective Business

Not everyone is going to love a book, no matter how good the author is.  It's like I've always said - not everyone thinks Brad Pitt is hot.  Even back in his hay day when he was the universally declared 'sexiest man alive' you would never get me to agree.

We are all such unique creatures.  God made us that way.  The world would be a very dull place if we all had the same tastes. There wouldn't be room in Hollywood for the likes of both Brad Pitt and Robert Pattinson (still not my cup of tea ...), or a space on the bookshelves for both Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters.

I might oscillate between reading historical fiction and contemporary fiction, but there's a unique theme in my preferences: they're heavy on the romance, and light on the trauma.  I've been thinking about why this is, and I think it boils down not just to my personality, but my life experience.

In my opinion, I've had too much pain in recent years to be reading about someone else's.  When I read, I want an escape to a happy place.  I want the good girl to get the good guy, and live happily ever after.  Don't get me wrong - I love drama.  But my nerves can't take much suspense, and my heart can't handle getting too close to a character's emotional pain.  I'm the same way with movies.  I love romantic comedies (as long as they're not too silly!) but I steer clear of anything hard hitting like The Green Mile.  I was even worried that "The Blind Side" would be too emotional for me (it wasn't, though I did cry more than I'd like to admit).

I know my life experience must have a lot to do with this, because once upon a time I did like hard hitting, emotional movies.  As for my nerves ... as a teenager I went through a phase of watching a lot of horror movies, and complained frequently that I couldn't find a single one that scared me.  Nowadays I run a mile away from anything of the sort.  I can't handle anything remotely scary.  Have you seen "I Am Legend" staring Will Smith? I do think it is a very good movie.  But I have to confess, when I watched it at the movies, I left half way through.  I was so stressed I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  However, I had to know how it ended, so I watched it on DVD at home one day, knowing I could stop it and take breaks when needed :)

So what's my point here? It's hard writing book reviews.  We can only tell you our opinions on a book, and our opinions are going to be shaped by our tastes, preferences, personality and life experiences.  You won't love a book just because I do, and vice versa.  But I hope our reviews give you enough information to make your own decision as to whether you might like a book :)

What are your favourite kinds of books? What books do you run a mile from? I'd love to know what our readers are into :)

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.


  1. Hi Helen, you're right, books reviews are so subjective, and it's good to be reminded of this every now and then. Love the Brad Pitt analogy, lol! I thought he was good looking when younger, but I've never thought he was the best looking man I'd ever seen.

    Romance is paramount with me too, but I admit--I crave stories with nail-biting suspense, and a lot going on. Add a bit of humor to that formula, and volia! You've got something that I will totally eat up and enjoy. :-)

  2. This is all so very true, Helen. Right now I have been having discussions with a fellow writer about a book I think is good but she is battling to finish reading! And my favourite kind of book? Almost anything with romance - and not lust! Like you I am not interested in Reading Fantasy - although I did read and to my surprise enjoy the Lord Of The Ring books. Science Fiction and murder mystery books on the whole I also do not pick up. Having said that though, I should add if I knew there were good romantic elements in one I might give it a try! However, I do not want to read erotic romance of any kind. These days even romance lines that once were "sweet" have become too explicit for me. I enjoy historicals, contemporary romance novels and I guess anyone who has read my own books already knows that! I recently finished reading an excellent historical book by Linda Windsor I can heartily recommend - the first book in her The Brides of Alba series, Healer, published by David Cook. Trouble is now I have to buy the other two in the series!

    1. Hi Mary! Yes we all have such different tastes. Even Jess and I ... I might rave about a book and she'll just shrug, "It's ok."

      I'm not into murder mystery either. Have no idea why, guess it just doesn't interest me! Erotic content is becoming such a norm in fiction (just like TV ...), which is why I'm so glad to have found Christian romances.

      I have not heard of Linda Windsor, so thank you for the recommendation :)

  3. Hi Gwen! Love having you here and hearing your thoughts!

    Yes ... I really didn't care for Brad Pitt when he was younger (particularly with the long hair). When he got older I did end up admitting he was good looking. But I'm over that again lol.

    I think I'm not surprised that you like stories with nail-biting suspense - not after I read about you climbing mountain sides without a rope! :)

    Oh yes, humour ... gotta have that too :) I love a book that makes me laugh!

  4. Jenny B. jones' book Just Between you and Me had me in stitches! I haven't laughed that hard in a book in ages! Plus it had romance!

  5. Oh and on the Brad Pitt topic, I wasn't a fan until I saw Legends of the Fall and then I understood what everyone was raving about!