How fair is it to say that the best way to read a book (or watch a movie, listen to a song or consume anything, really) is to go in with a blank slate? Let me talk about books in specific. I’ve often found myself writing off being disappointed by a book due to unrealistic expectations or some kind of fault on my part for having too many opinions about it prior to even picking it up. Lately, though, I couldn’t help but reflect on this (due to certain books not being quite what I expected, of course) and I’ve come to realize that you can’t just turn off impressions you’ve accumulated about something over time just because it may not be fair on the subject or creator (or rather, the book or author) in question.
While it is true that the very reason some books get written may well turn out to be the reason why they are not seen in the correct perspective, asking readers to not blame the book because it failed to fulfill the unrealistic expectations they had for it is rather unfair. People buy books because they have expectations. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t go for them! Think about it- we’re bombarded with various inputs about a book from the very day it is announced…at times even before the title is revealed! Along with the title announcement you’d find yourself speculating on the book. The very title could sometimes be indicative of the genre of a book. And then we get the very helpful tidbits- why it was written, whether it is ownvoices or not, and in particularly hyped books, even what exactly to expect of it and what not to. And then it is the cover reveal, release date announcement etc, and lo and behold, it is the street team or marketing campaign kicking in. While this may not be true of all books, it certainly is very much so with hyped ones. This industry (and any industry, for that matter) thrives on creating hype around things. Is it, then, the consumers fault if they are disappointed when their expectations aren’t met?
Look, I get it, people tend to go overboard at times and expectations skyrocket without even having reasonable grounds for them to sometimes. In a world like the current one where people are constantly on the lookout for the next cool thing to obsess about, it is easy for expectations to grow multifold and it might even prove to be detrimental to the book–I’m not saying that it is not possible. However, blaming the reader for it is certainly not the way to go about it. It is impossible to view a book with no expectations whatsoever when it is talked about since the day it is announced. It is valid that one may expect a book to be mindblowingly awesome or not really worth one’s attention based on information they accumulate about it over time.
Readers could maybe take things with a pinch of salt to make things easier for both parties, but in conclusion I’d say, don’t feel bad about or apologize if you have opinions getting into a book. Going into something with a blank slate is pretty much impossible in this day and age where information is readily available, literally at the tips of one’s fingers. Be aware of what you’re setting yourself up for when you let yourself be excited about books, yes, but don’t worry about having unrealistic expectations for them. The blank slate is but a myth, at least in this case!
Have you been unduly disappointed by any book you were super hyped for? Do you think it was your expectations that were to blame? Let’s talk in the comments below!