At the start of 2016 I planned to give up desserts for one month. After three days I was doing awesome, and feeling super confident in my dessert resisting abilities. Sitting across the dinner table from my husband I looked to him and said “I could do this all year!” He had enough wisdom not to respond with laughter, but his face still told me he thought I couldn’t do it. I took his disbelief to be a direct challenge. Hubby thinks I can’t give up desserts for a whole year, I will prove him wrong. It’s now a couple of months later and here I am dessertless until 2018.
Without sugary confections to fill my belly – I’ve been turning to books to add some sweetness to my life. Have you ever read a story, or watched a television show, that you knew was terrible, like junk food for the brain, yet you absolutely loved it and could not stop yourself from reading or watching? If not try giving up desserts for a year, your brain will seek out some desserty entertainment.
I recently read a book series that from page 1 I knew was not the most well crafted story. The writing, and characters and ideas were all just…okay. It wasn’t awful, but it shouldn’t have been something I enjoyed. To my surprise, I did not just tolerate this book, I became OBSESSED with it.
There were 3 books in the series and I gobbled them up like I’ll be gobbling desserts on 1/1/18. Why did I love these stories? The characters were frustratingly dim witted, the ending was predictable, and the plot twists weren’t really twists, but rather sharp turns that didn’t make sense.
Wondering if I was going insane, I turned to reading reviews on Goodreads to see if any other readers were experiencing the same phenomenon I was. It turns out that many readers loved the books without question, while others simply hated the stories. I found one review that fit my emotions to a T. This reader found the writing and style as lackluster as I had, and the more she read the more frustrating it became, but she could not stop reading. In the end she compared the stories to deep fried Oreos. Wonderful in the moment you are eating them, but quite regrettable in the digestion process. These books were literally brain dessert.
Just like deep fried Oreos are lacking in nutritional value, sometimes stories lack substance and depth, but we still enjoy consuming them. If I didn’t enjoy this book for the writing, then what was it that appealed to me so much?
The answer: these books had something special, something I wasn’t getting from other (more well written) books. And the true magic of this series is I can’t even tell you what that something special was. It could have been the lure of royalty, beautiful dresses, and great wealth. Or the drama of the back and forth romance. Perhaps the joy of a rags to riches story? The somewhat dull protagonist who allowed the reader to insert themselves into her place and picture themselves in the same situations?
I don’t know. To be honest these books had many things I usually hate reading about. Love triangles, females who need to be saved by men, females who aren’t confident in themselves for no apparent reason, multiple love triangles, endings that don’t actually solve the problems going on in the world, and did I mention love triangles. Yet, far from being turned off by these features, I looked past them because I was captivated by the story.
Along with making me question my judgement, these stories give me hope. I know my writing is far from perfect, and there are some things I wish I could do with my story that no matter how many times I rewrite it I can’t seem to get right. But, I still believe my writing has value, that someday it will be worth reading. These books were proof that I’m right.
Were these books impeccably written? No. But they made sense, one of the key steps to being able to publish a book. Was the plot layered, intricate and rich with symbolism and depth of meaning? No, but it felt like all the elements the author wanted to include were there. Were the characters well done and the plot without holes? No, but there was something special about the way the characters interacted with each other and their world that made me unable to put these books down. I craved these books and when I had to wait three days for the final book to come in from the library I thought I was going to die of impatience. And I’m an adult, I should be able to wait for a deep fried Oreo.
So take hope, your stories will be beautifully flawed, but they will also be special and though there will be readers who hate them, there will be others who love them, even if they know they shouldn’t. Don’t be afraid of writing a deep fried Oreo book, be afraid of inventing the deep fried Oreo and then never sharing it with anyone.
What are some of your guilty reading pleasures (don’t be shy I know you have them). Or tell me about a book you thought you were going to hate, then ended up loving.
Stay Amazing my Friends,