Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Special Guest Blogger: Jennifer Shirk

If you haven't read Jennifer's book, "Role of a Lifetime" ... you MUST. Just check out the trailer and see if you aren't hooked:

She's with us today to share a confession... are you ready?


Reading Outside the Box: AKA

Overcoming Book Snobbery

Hi, Jennifer here and I’m a book snob.

Oooh. Wow, that just kind of slipped out. But it’s true. Well, okay, maybe “snob” isn’t the right word. I mean, even though I write sweet humorous romances, I do read many different kinds of romance. But, still…

I do tend to get a little annoyed when a friend or relative gives me a book to read. Uh-huh. I’m talking about someone actually thrusting a book into my hands all the while gushing about how much I’m going to like it. I know. I’m nuts—or perhaps a snob.

The thing is many of my non-writer friends (and family) try to recommend books that are, well, non romance and sometimes even—perish the thought—non fiction.


Yes, of course, I read other things beside romance but when I do, I like to make the decision on what I read on my own. Recommending books is such a personal and subjective thing, and nothing makes me feel more on the spot than when someone hands me a book, tells me to read then give the book back, AND then tell them what I think of the book.

Ugh. It’s like being forced to do a fifth grade book report all over again.

Recently, I was not happy when my dear sweet friend handed me a book in that same exact way. Non fiction. (What else?) About a woman in her thirties with breast cancer and what she goes through. And then while she’s going through treatment, her dad gets cancer.

Um…gee, no offense but that topic didn’t really sound too appealing. But I took the book politely, anyway. (Because I’m a good friend)

I dreaded opening it up even though my friend insisted it was good. Every time I saw her she’d ask if I started it yet, so to save face, I had to read it. Well, that night I opened it, I read a hundred pages.

The book was wonderful. It wasn’t depressing at all but beautiful and—surprisingly--fun. I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone. The book is called The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. Check it out! Never in a MILLION years would I have picked this book up off a shelf let alone BUY it. So I was truly glad someone put it in my hands and forced me to read it.

Have I changed my book snob ways? Not really. You see, this wasn’t the first time I was pleasantly surprised by a book recommended to me.

Other non fiction books that have been given to me and that I loved include:

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride

In Harms Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors by Doug Stanton

Hmm… Someday I hope to get over this psychological hang-up I have whenever people give me books.

Maybe the fourth recommended book will be the charm.

*Are you a book snob?

*Have you ever had a book given to you that you were completely surprised about?

Jennifer Shirk

~Jennifer fancies herself a more prolific writer than she really is and has an unnatural tendency to use words like "fancies" and "prolific" when describing herself. Please feel free to check out her romantic comedy, The Role of a Lifetime from Samhain Publishing--where she promises she didn't use either of those words anywhere in the story.

Visit her at http://www.jennifershirk.com/.


Allie Boniface said...

Hi Jennifer - loved your post!

Kristen Painter said...

I will pretty much read anything. Including, but not limited to, the cereal box, my husband's military magazines, the packaging that comes with medicine. So, no, I don't think I'm a book snob. But then, I'm usually the one handing people books, not the other way around.

Diane Craver said...

My sister-in-law gives me non-fiction books for birthday and Christmas gifts. Many times they are books I don't like. She's big on self-help books. She does not read fiction. Instead, I wish she'd give me romances and mysteries.

Recently my daughter gave me "The Skinny Bitch" to read and it was an eye-opener about what we eat.

Great post, Jennifer!

Anonymous said...

LOL Booksnobs Anonymous!
(I'm one too)
And I do the same thing, someone gives me a book... I might not even open it. I like to pick what I read myself.
And I confess to hating chic lit covers so much -- I won't buy them.
The one thing I'm not, is a pink-loving girly-girl, yet all my relatives hand me chic-lit and buy me pink sweaters.
I think they do it to annoy me.

Valerie Everhart said...

The thing is, I read way more than my friends do, so they're always asking me what to read. But I have to admit-I rarely if ever loan out my books, ack..what if I don't get them back??? But a book snob? I probably am a bit even though I'll read just about anything, I rarely have others telling me what to read.

Good post Jennifer!

Debora Dennis said...

My SIL is notorious for bringing books about depressing female subjects to our monthly girls-night-out dinners. You know the ones that make you feel disgusted menopause is coming or depressed that your getting older? They usually go around the table and end up back in her lap.

I guess she's the only that wants a dose of reality - the feel good romance books I frequently bring - get snapped up pretty darn quick :)

Not that I want to start trouble or anything :)

Great post!

Miss Mae said...

What? A snob? Me????

Hmm, ya know...shucks, I mean...er...naaah! Not on yer life, sister!

But, just in case...anyone have a Field and Stream laying around???

This was a great post, Jennifer. I'd never thought my tastes were so...refined. :)

Brandy said...

I admit, I'm a book snob. I do read a bit of everything but my favorite books to read have HEA's. I'm the only prolific adult reader in my home and family, so no one offers me books. *G*

Patrica said...

Oh so true - I guess I am a bit of a book snob. I read most anything from a good western to a historical non-fiction, but I hate it when someone hands me a book and says tell me what you think.

I try not to do that to friends/family - unless they ask me for a recommendation and then I give an author's name and say check it out. No pressure hehehe

Excellent post Jennifer - thanks for sharing.

groovyoldlady said...

I try not to be a snob, but in reality I am - especially with non-fiction (I shuddered right with you!)

The trailer totally sucked me in. I was actually teary by the end of it. (It was either the trailer that moved me or it's the relentless pain in my hand/wrist from so much typing. It's Day 4 and I capped 7, 163 which is pretty amazing for me. I. am. pleased. )

Chiron said...

I had a good friend give me a TOME. A bestselling, OMG-everyone-has-to-read-this, ponderous novel of over six hundred pages.

Admittedly, the prose was exceptional. Except after 200 pages I was flipping past it frantically trying to get to the damn story. I never did finish the darn thing. *groan* Of course, she is a literary snob who actually shuddered when I asked her to read a couple of romance novels in advance of offering a crit on my book. *snort* SHUDDERED. Needless to say, we've grown apart.

Thanks for the laugh, Jennifer!


PS... I have this really fabulous book you simply MUST read! *grin*

CD Yates said...

LOL. Prolific.

Water for Elephants was the book recommended that I didn't expect to love. But I did.

Non-fiction? Hm. Something by Dwight Swain, I think. Sorry, Dwight. Zzzzz...

Good post, Jennifer!

Cindy K. Green said...

I'm a total book snob too, Jennifer. I mean, I read just about everything. I do enjoy non-fiction; I wouldn't have gotten through college otherwise. ;) BUT I so little time to read that I want to be the one to pick out what. As for recommendations from friends, it doesn't happen often. I'm usually giving the recommendations. But my mom and sister's usually like what I suggest.

Patricia W. said...

It's because you feel pressure to read the book right away. We're so busy that our book reading time is precious. You want to choose how you allocate that time., just as I do.

When I get a non-fiction book or any book I haven't requested, I think, "I'll take a peek at this some day."

And I do.

I've been pleasantly surprised and I've been disappointed.

But it's okay because I read them when I chose, when they seemed interesting to me (or I had a lull in my own choices and had run out of other options!)

Kelly Corrigan said...



Kelly Corrigan
Author, The Middle Place