A few cover blurb writers should be fired, Or, A review of books I’ve read recently

4 Nov

Something I’ve noticed lately in the books I’ve been reading: my expectations for what a book is about have been totally off. I blame misleading cover blurbs. And misleading subtitles. I mean, if Aristotle is in the subtitle, he should get at least a chapter, right? Ridiculous. I’ll bet some publicist thought it was a great idea.

Just for fun, in lieu of a pretentious book review, I’ll compare what I thought each book was going to be with what it actually was.

BOOK: The Happiness Project, Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun (by Gretchen Rubin)

WHAT I THOUGHT IT WAS: A literal month-by-month review of different theories of happiness. Like, January would be Oprah’s-way-to-be-happy month, February would be Gandhi’s happiness plan, etc. And then the author would analyze which monthly plan was most successful, with an inevitable conclusion that each theory offers a small piece to the puzzle of human happiness.

WHAT IT ACTUALLY WAS: The author used her research from a much broader scope than Oprah and Gandhi to create a yearlong plan, separated into monthly themes (love, energy, money, etc.). Then, in memoir fashion, she reflected on it.

WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT: The actual book was much less bold than I expected it to be. Also, the subtitle is superfluous (nevermind the superfluous subtitle for this post). Still, the book was a nice, light read for a cross-country trip. And whether you read the book or not, I definitely recommend the author’s blog and the Happiness Project Toolbox.

BOOK: Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (by Francine Prose)

WHAT I THOUGHT IT WAS: A recap of everything I learned in AP Lit and AP Lang. (If you had Ms. Kerns at OHS for AP Lit/Lang, you would know that this would actually be pretty cool.)

WHAT IT ACTUALLY WAS: A sampling of awesome pieces of writing with explanations of why they’re awesome.

WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT: I guess I was expecting a “tell” book, but this was a “show” book, and it worked. Now I really want to read all of the novels and short stories the author excerpted.

BOOK: Eating Animals (by Jonathan Safran Foer)

WHAT I THOUGHT IT WAS: A spunky historical and philosophical review of why we eat some animals and not others. Like, chapter one would be about chickens, chapter two would be about pigs, chapter three would be about dogs, etc., and there would be “fun facts” interspersed throughout.

WHAT IT ACTUALLY WAS: A scathing, unflinching yet calm analysis of why we choose to eat animals, of what happens when we choose to eat animals, and why we might want to reconsider what it means to be an eating animal.

WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT: So life-changing it deserves another blog post. If you have a heart and a stomach and are literate, you should read this book.

That may have ended up sounding pretentious anyway. Oh well. Maybe I’ll get back to reading my current book, The Amish Way (trying to get to know the native people of my new turf). In conclusion: one perk of unemployment = ample reading time. Book recommendations, anyone?

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