Have you ever felt like you would have had a completely different reaction to a book if you’d read it after a different book? Just a few months ago I had a relatively unfamiliar and unpleasant experience with one said decision. This summer I read the The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale and I had a very strong and unfavorable reaction to it. Thinking any book I was giddily looking forward to would both restore my loss of book-faith and placate my usual need for a compelling read, I eagerly followed it up with Fire by Kristin Cashore, a read I’d highly been anticipating since reading Graceling last year. Though undeniably well-written and better than its predecessor, I found myself nick-picking and being easily offended by elements of the story and characters that normally wouldn’t faze me. (FYI loyal readers: Michelle saw it more clearly than I did and LOVED it.)
So I’m tempted to think that my dissatisfaction with Fire was just a coincidence, but the fact that I remained so unsettled after only a book’s length away from The Actor and the Housewife definitely smelled fishy to me. Realizing my mistake, I immediately sought to remedy the situation by sitting down and seriously pondering not which title from my TBR pile I was most anxious to get to next, but what kind of story I really needed in the fickle, jaded reading mood I was in. And the descriptions which emerged surprised me. Happy Ever After, sweet, predictable; even fluffy. Luckily I knew exactly which slightly (and cozily) formulaic author would fit the bill. After studying in Oxford, traveling to the Amazon, performing Swan Lake and falling in love with the dark and mysterious Rom, Eva Ibbotson’s A Company of Swans successfully brought me out of my funk.
Anyone else have a similar harrowing but happy-ending book choice they'd like to share? How do you go about deciding which book you should read next, particularly after an especially brilliant or glaringly awful read?