The Subjectivity of Reading

I belong to a book group and each month eight women read the same book and then we gather together with wine and cheese and we talk about the book. This is the second book group I’ve belonged to, but one of the common themes that crosses over is the diverse reaction to the book.

At each meeting, one person will put her hand on her heart and say, ‘this book changed my life.’ Another will toss it contemptuously onto the coffee table and say, ‘it was crap.’  The rest of us will shrug and say, ‘It was okay’, and then talk about the bits we liked and the bits we didn’t, and why.

It is rare for the eight of us to agree on a book, although this year we all agreed that The Help by Katherine Stockett was a great book. It might take another four years before that happens again 😉

Reading is subjective. As a reader, we bring our own thoughts and experiences to the book so we will all react to it very differently.  For instance, in reviews for Boomerang Bride the following has been said,

Matilda is a heroine I can definitely get on board with.

I just had a hard time caring about the characters.

Tidly was an awesome heroine. She doesn’t cower, she stands on her own two feet, and just charges ahead. I loved that about her.

I hated Matilda!

Matilda was tenacious and never gave up.

This is the best contemporary romance I’ve read this year.

I could go on, but you get the idea 😉 People are never going to agree because they bring different emotions to the book and different preferences.

I can’t read ‘The Brontes’. Give me Jane Austen and her humour every time. I can’t read horror or suspense because I get too scared. I don’t like those sort of books, but that doesn’t mean I go around suggesting people don’t read them.  I just accept they’re just not my ‘cup of tea.’ 

I like to read a book where I can go on a journey and no matter what happens, I know it will end happily. Why? Because the world is a tough place and I deal with enough ‘grit’ on the news. That said I do pick up books like ‘The Kite Runner’ and read them and learn, but I can’t exist on a diet of those types of books alone. If I did, I would end up curled in fetal position, unable to stand up.

I think it is a really important to understand that we’re all different and therefore we have different reading tastes, just like we have different tastes in wine, theatre and art. There is no right or wrong, just lots of differing opinions 🙂


To read the differing reviews of Boomerang Bride click here


3 thoughts on “The Subjectivity of Reading

  1. I’m a member of a book group too – only went last night in fact – and we are exactly the same. Last night’s book was Jodi Picoult’s Plain Truth. Most of us loved it, but one woman hated it more than any book she’s ever picked up. Interesting on the comments you’ve had from reviewers too… although I CANNOT imagine anyone hating Matilda! SHe’s gorgeous!!!

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