On Reading Something Out of the Ordinary

by RS on November 18, 2009

Yesterday afternoon I was at the library and while I was browsing at the new book section it occured to me that I should read a book that’s out of my comfort zone and review it for Alvah’s Books. The one I was thinking about was Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue.

I went to the checkout desk and asked in sotto voce if the book had been ordered. The librarian asked why was I whispering. I admitted I was embarrassed because I felt I was betrying my political beliefs. “I’m a Marxist,” I said and then went on to explain that I wanted to review a book that I typically would not consider. The problem, I added, was that it might put off my readers, but most importantly, would I give it a fair and objective review considering my politics? The librarian laughed and said that if I wanted the book she would order it for me. I finally decided to let it go because I know that the final result would be a bad review.

The idea of reading something out of the ordinary has a certain appeal, but I know myself well enough that I don’t like science-fiction, fantasy, romance, or books written by conservative politicians. So why seek these books out? I suppose it’s the idea that if you don’t read it you won’t know if you like it or not.  There might be that golden nugget in a basketful of rotten ones that stands out, surprises you, and changes your mind about the genre or the author.

There’s a part of me that really wants to give Sarah Palin the benefit of the doubt and maybe if I decide to read her book I’ll find a redeemable quality. However, I’m too much of a cynic to be fully, or partially, convinced, that Ms. Palin might have an endearing characteristic that might sway me a little to her defense. Well, there is one thing that she’s got going for her–the cover photograph on Newsweek. She looks great.

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