Readerly Confession: Fear of the Overhyped Book

Every so often, I find myself having the following conversation with another bookish human.

Bookish human: Hey! You read. Have you read such-and-such-book?

Me: Not yet.

Bookish human: Dude. Seriously?

Me: Yeah.

Bookish human: It’s so good! You’d LOVE it!

Me: I’m sure! I’ll add it to my list.

Bookish human: You HAVE TO READ IT! Everybody in my book club loved it, it hit the New York Times bestseller list in the first hour it was out, they’re even making a movie of it. IT’S THE BEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE WORLD AND YOU MUST READ IT AND LOVE IT TOO!

Me: Okay…so…um…I’ve got to go do….stuff. Thanks!

AND scene.

Typically after a convo like that I do one of three things. I might buy the book. I probably add it to my Goodreads to-read list. But more than anything else, I usually put off reading the book.

Why would I do that?

Because I fear an overhyped book.

I know. I KNOW! It’s completely irrational. Like my fear of sharks somehow making their way into Lake Michigan just so they can finally eat me.

Still, I get nervous whenever someone oversells a book. Why? Because I’m worried that I won’t like it. I fear that I’ll be disappointed. More than that, I’m afraid that if I don’t like it, my friend will be let down.

And so I put off reading the book. Sometimes indefinitely. If I’ve purchased it, it gets lost on my shelf and collects dust. Forgotten.

That is until — perhaps years later — I rummage through my book collection for something to read. I stumble upon the book, pull it off the shelf. I feel the cover, flip through the pages, consider the weight of it.

“Why not?” I whisper to myself, deciding to give the book a try.

I begin to read, determined to give it a fair shake despite my reservations. Sometimes I realize that I was right. That the book doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Sometimes I truly am disappointed. I might give up on the book, but I’m more likely to read it all the way to the end, hoping for a satisfying close.

When a book doesn’t hold up to the rave reviews I feel let down.

But then there are times when I read an overhyped book and find myself immediately engaged with the story, right away enamored of the characters, impressed with the narrative. Sometimes I find that the excitement was earned. That what I hold in my hand is a treasure.

And that, my friends, is worth its weight in hype.

One Comment on “Readerly Confession: Fear of the Overhyped Book

  1. I am not much of a reader’s reader, so I don’t get many recommendations…hyped or casual. Either way, wheather I even consider putting another book in my pile, I consider the source.
    I have had “politically” oriented folks highly recommend “Insights of Democracy” by Kim Jong ill, . Or similar good intentioned readers.
    To be candid, because I read so infrequently, you had better over-hype any book or I’ll just nod acknowledgment rather than nod off in chapter one.


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