That Artsy Reader Girl has a fun "Top 10 Tuesday" topic that she covers weekly. Other bloggers are encouraged to play along (with or without modifications). This week's topic is "8 Books I Disliked But Am Glad I Read Anyway." So, without further ado, here is a list (shortened to three as it's a super-busy week) that I disliked but am glad I read anyway:
Depressing. That about sums up my experience with The Grapes of Wrath. I suppose it's fitting as the book is set in the Great Depression. This was one of those books I had a love/hate thing going with. (I'm pretty sure it could have been livened up by being condensed about 500 pages). I am very glad that I read it as it's a classic and did have a beautiful, albeit dusty, message of hope.
And now for something completely different...The Shack. I read this mostly because of all the buzz it was generating in the media. While I enjoyed the unusual-ness (not a real word) of the story and the way that it portrayed the Trinity in a completely new way, the storyline was so disturbing I couldn't get past it. Note: I was also very pregnant when I read this. Story of child murder + pregnant woman = ugly anger.
Ugh. When I was required to read this in my senior year of high school, I had no idea the drudgery that awaited me. I don't know if it was because of my age, what was going on in my life (period of depression) or just because this book stinks, but I DID NOT like Metamorphosis. And I'm not really glad I read it, other than to be able to say that I finished the dang thing despite hating it. And to celebrate the fact that I never have to read it again.
"Fatso!" "Heifer," and "Lard *ss," were names that followed me through school hallways, the playground and even the classroom growing up.
"Why are you so fat?" a girl asked me one day on the playground. I mumbled something about being big boned and got out of there fast, cheeks stained red, our game forgotten.
Growing up as "the fat kid," was a fate I wouldn't wish on anyone. My heart was broken over and over again when others--especially friends and once even a teacher--commented negatively on my weight.
It did, however, give me two gifts that I'm still grateful for.
The gifts that being "the fat kid" gave me
Firstly, it allowed me to feel complete empathy for others who were left out, picked on, or made fun of. Even after I went through my "transformation," in junior high and lost 60 pounds in about a year, I have never, ever lost that righteous anger I feel for the underdog.
Secondly, it brought me my true passions: reading great books and writing stories. When I read a book, I was no longer the fat kid. I was the hero. I was sometimes beautiful, always strong, and often funny. By putting myself in the place of protagonist, I worked through challenges and hardships. This helped me see some of my own problems in new ways. Or at the very least, helped me to see that other people had it as bad, if not worse, than I did. Their stories provided me with a sense of solidarity.
Stories were important to me. They offered me an escape as well as adventure, love, freedom, hope and power. They're still important to me for these reasons today. I'm guessing that's why they are important for most of us.
I've been writing for as long as I can remember. In my books there is often a theme of social justice or of the empowerment/growth of a particular character. I don't do this purposely. It comes from the way that I've always lived my life.
If I had it to do all over again, would I choose to grow up as the fat kid? If I said "no," then I wouldn't be the person I am today. And we don't get a chance to go back.
So, I'm taking the lessons that I've learned and using them to make my life richer. And I hope that along the way I've encouraged other misfits like me in ways that are real and meaningful to them.
Whew! What a busy few weeks it's been...busy but productive and exciting. First, the next book (formerly known as The Creepy Doll Book) has a real name: Let the Dead Rest.
It will be released this summer (likely mid-August) and I couldn't be more excited to share it with you. The awesome designers over at The Cover Collection are working on the cover for it as we speak (!) and it will be delivered to my developmental editor tomorrow.
Guys, I just have to say that writing and then putting a book out in the world is one of the most exciting things to me. I LOVE IT!!! Even when I hate it (like this morning when I was sore and stiff from sitting for hours in front of the computer editing--my very least favorite part of the process) it still rocks. I'm very, very grateful to be on this journey and for your support from near and far. Thank you, dear readers.
Now, more about the book...
I've created an alternate ending and my fantastic beta readers have so far been split right down the middle. What should I do? Should I include both endings in the book? Should I toss one and keep the other via gut instinct? Should I post the alternate ending only here, on the blog after the book has come out? Chime in via the comments and let me know what you think.
PS Here's a Little Something Creepy to Enjoy
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