I love to read.
This went bad for me in middle school. I wanted to read different books… that were “challenging”. I wouldn’t read any thing trendy… being that this was the late 90s, I missed A Child Called It and other books I’m sure my 14-year-old self would have loved.
I’ve gotten better. At some point, I learned that if I refuse to read a book because it is popular, or whatever, I’m the only one who misses out.
Nevertheless, I still have a stigma against books that everyone looooves. Most recently, that book was The Help. It seemed like everywhere I turned and everyone was talking about it. Not only did they love it, but it changed their life. It was one of the best books they ever read.
My instinct, even though I’m working past my eighth grade issues, was to roll my eyes and mock those people.
So I decided to read it—with an open mind. I took it along with me to my trip to Seattle.
But did I like it?
I was very readable. I liked the little historical reference—like the introduction of the zip code. Totally helped pass a 90 minute flight.
And was it worth my mocking it?
This is where I wish I was better at describing books I’ve read.
I didn’t like the book. This isn’t to say that it’s bad. It just felt like it was written using a formula to appeal to people who don’t read a lot of books. Spunky characters? Check. Social issues? Check. “Shocking” revelations of how it used to be? Check.
Now there are a lot of books, written in a historical 20/20 hindsight that have an issue that especially bugs me and The Help was no different: how did the wise main character come to these ahead-of-her-time and against-the-social-norm ideas? In 2011, I know people with pretty radical social ideas that—who know?—may become the status quo in 2051, but these crazy concepts didn’t just fall into their heads. And secretly writing a book (that becomes a sensation!) wouldn’t have solved their issues.
Bottom line, I think there is value in all books. The Help included. And there are better things to poke fun at than a not terrible book.