Monday, June 24, 2013

A Bookish Dilemma

I saw someone I know checking out State of Wonder by Ann Patchett the other day at the library and I wanted to stop her, to warn her, to say, "Don't read that!  You won't like the ending."  But then I hesitated.  Because maybe she would.  After all, State of Wonder isn't a horrible book; maybe the ending wouldn't disappoint her the way it did me.  I don't know what kinds of books she likes to read.  And who am I to spoil a book for someone else just because I didn't like it?  Besides, she seemed so excited to read it.

So, when she showed me what she was checking out, I didn't know what to say.  If I admitted that I'd read it, I'd also have to admit that I really didn't like it.  And I didn't want to taint the book for her before she had a chance to form her own opinion.  People have ruined books for me by doing that and I didn't appreciate it.  So, I took the coward's way out; I didn't say anything at all.

Was I right?  Was I wrong?  I don't know.  What would you have done?


  1. I see your dilemma. I probably would have told her. After all like you say, she might love it anyway. Reading is so subjective, we all come to different conclusions.

  2. I don't think I'd have mentioned I didn't like it unless directly asked, but maybe in your situation I'd have said, "I'd like to compare thoughts on this one when you're finished." Or something like that that shows I'd read it, but didn't give an opinion so as not to ruin it. But I definitely think staying quiet was fine, too! She might end up loving it. :)

  3. Tough call! I vote for keeping mum. If you say you read it but won't say what you thought, that can still be a red flag and color their reading experience.

  4. I personally wouldn't say anything unless I knew what her usual reading tastes were as reading is so subjective. However, as someone who will be reading State of Wonder in the near future, I appreciate the forewarning!

  5. Thanks everyone for your comments. I appreciate the suggestions and advice. The next time this happens maybe I'll be better prepared with an answer.

  6. I utterly disliked State of Wonder (morally very flawed, I thought) but I also would not have said anything, not unless you knew her reading taste or if she would ask you for your opinion on the book.
    But, a difficult dilemma!

    Kind regards,

    1. "Morally flawed" is a very apt description; that's why I didn't like it either.