Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Hello, I’m Jane. I have a lot of reader baggage.

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Jennifer Crusie, the writer of one of my favorite contemporary romances, Welcome to Temptation, wrote the following:

Somebody asked me in an interview once what the responsibilities of the writer and the reader were. I knew the responsibilities of the writer inside out, but I’d never thought about the responsibilities of the reader; to me, anybody who paid money for my book was pretty much fulfilling her responsibility. But it was a job interview, so I thought about it and decided that the responsibility of the reader was to read the book with an open mind, to not read the words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” and say, “I don’t believe that.” To give the writer a fair shot at inviting her in, to maybe broaden her viewpoint some. If all a reader wants is fiction that repeats her own world view, she’s asking the writer to reinforce her,not entertain and illuminate.

The problem is that readers come to a book with a lot of reader baggage. Take commenter Laura V who wondered if there was a cultural gap which prevented her from relating to the heroine. In The Sheik and The Virgin Secretary because Kylie describes herself as coming from good “peasant stock” but then references tanning and pedicures, but from Laura’s experience in the UK, tanning salons and pedicures aren’t as plentiful as they are in Robin’s home state where cheap nail and tanning salons are everywhere. Lidia, Harlequin Presents fan and reader at Iheartpresents.com blogged that she couldn’t read romances featuring first cousins. Daniela blogged about how she had a problem with siblings and even best friends to lovers theme. Some people don’t like a certain amount of violence. Some people don’t read books with explicit sex and some people won’t read books when the bedroom door is closed.

I will rarely read books featuring adoptees because authors often trivialize the emotional experience and I can’t relate. I thought that the treatment was so trivializing of the experience. I will rarely read a book that features lawyers because I simply cannot allow myself to suspend my disbelief regarding the antics the authors portray lawyers partaking in (we still have the moral turpitude clause, people!). I can’t read those books that feature wills that require people to marry other people because that is generally not enforceable. Poor Jayne won’t read them either after I told her that.

***

Even beyond my person bias is the book bias. I’ve read so many romances – thousands of them – that to some extent all books suffer reader baggage built up from previous authors. Everytime I come across a love triangle, I think of Janet Evanovich’s refusal to make her characters move in any significant direction and wonder if this author, too, will string me along for thirteen plus books on the slender edge of the relationship triangle. Everytime I read a paranormal with a vampire and werewolf lover, I wonder if it will become some horrible debacle wherein the heroine begins not only to bed the vampire and the werewolf but every goblin, faerie spirit, and shapeshifter known and unknown.

***

Last week’s comments showed that we all have bias and filters when it comes to reading a book. Robin wrote about independent heroines in romance and how they challenge the very structure of romance. The comments revealed any number of positions, all valid:

DS said

I like heroines who have a worthy goal outside of a relationship. And some of my favorite couples are outside the strict bounds of romance for that reason. I like the idea of a partnership of equals.

Growly Cub said:

I’m not sure I understand why one would need to write/want to read a romance about persons who are truly better off by themselves. The whole premise of romance, to me at least, is that despite the obstacles, the hero and heroine will be better off together rather than apart. I cannot really see the place of a true anti-heroine in romance because by the definition I get from the essay, she would not be suitable to a relationship. So if there’s to be one, the heroine would have to give up something that’s essential to her person which does not make for a healthy, happy couple in the long run or a sane, fulfilled heroine.

Stephanie Z said:

I’m pretty young and just barely engaged, but I’ve been living with the fiance for the last year and, as far as I can tell, we’re more like a Venn diagram. There are still areas that are distinctly "me’ and distinctly "him,’ but there’s a nice overlap in the middle that is "us.’

***

No reader is a clean slate. Every reader comes with his or her own special baggage. We will read things into the book that aren’t there based on our personal experiences and biases. Juror consultants tell you that jurors will adopt a certain way the story is told and then fit the subsequent facts into that story or disregard facts that don’t fit with the story. I think readers are like that. We read into stories identities, backgrounds, excuses, reasonings for characters and stories that we like. We ascribe negative attributes, read negative inferences for the characters and stories we don’t.

When you look at Janine’s review of the Spymaster’s Lady and the subsequent commenters who saw Annique as almost infantile v. the opinion of other readers such as myself that saw Annique as truly unique and competent in her spy games, so competent that it took three able bodied men (okay, one was seriously injured) to capture her.

It’s why when you find a reviewer you trust, you can rely upon their recommendations. they probably have a similar frame of view.

***

While it may not be fair for the author to have to confront such a beleaguered reading audience, the fact remains that people who are of an age, who have any life experience will have formed opinions regarding certain individuals.

There is the author that can overcome those problems/issues/biased frames of references but no one author will be able to win over every reader.

It’s hard as an author to come to grips with this and I think it is hard as a reader too. I know in the case of some authors, I’ve felt that they have written above me even though I consider myself to have a certain modicum of intelligence. I’ve kept reading some author because I find their style of writing something that I want to like but never really do. I’ve had authors on the pedestal and when I don’t understand their writing or when their work doesn’t work for me, I do think there is some deficit in me.

What I think is happening is less that there is a deficit in me or a deficit in the writing but that our frames of references are so different; our tastes so different that we won’t come to an agreement about the valuation of “good.”

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

45 Comments

  1. Marianne McA
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 05:30:59

    I think you could include more of Crusie’s comment, because that snippet reads like she’s criticising readers for having baggage. The previous paragraph reads:

    I think the blurring of the lines comes because reading is a collaborative activity. The good writer leaves a lot of white space for the reader to lay in her own preferences and fantasies. Problems arise when some of the content makes that impossible and the reader gets frustrated because she literally can't get into the book, whatever the content is that upset her, it's blocking her. And the solution to that is to find another writer/collaborator which is what the vast majority of people do. Or as people in my critique group sometimes say when confronted with fantasy, “I'm not your reader.” Crossing the line is saying, “And nobody else is your reader, either, because they're all like me, so stop doing that.”

    I read that as her saying that the reader can’t expect that the author will have the same baggage: that a reader should know that an author writes from their own perspective on life.

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  2. francois
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 05:34:02

    You can’t please all the people all of the time.

    I’m a terrible book reviewer. Who cares about well-written when you’ve got one of those series-but-it-doesn’t-tell-you-in-the-blurb books? What use is extensive historical research if I can’t respect the heroine’s decisions? My view of a book is a mishmash of all sorts of personal preconceptions.

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  3. Nora Roberts
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 05:40:48

    I agree with Jenny and with Jane.

    A reader needs to suspend their disbelief when they open a work of fiction. If they open it to: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away–and can’t do so, then close the book and pick another, they’re not a reader for that book.

    But if they do continue to read, one hopes they’ll go along for the ride. However, say the reader who does has an ex from a bitter break up who’s a smart-ass cargo pilot/smuggler. She’s not going to enjoy reading about Han Solo. She’ll probably want him to get blasted in the bar by the bounty hunter rather than become a reluctant hero and get the princess.

    As a writer, I can’t argue with that reader’s reaction. It’s fair–for her. But if I’ve built my world, my characters and my story well, I’ve done my job for all the readers who don’t happen to have smart-ass cargo pilot/smuggler exes.

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  4. ilona andrews
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 06:28:42

    I think every reader brings baggage, just as very writer writes sitting atop a pile of theirs. 95% of all books I read are DNF. It’s funny how some things can simply throw me out of a book. I recall one book had a blurb description on the back which detailed how heroine like the hero and how the hero loved the way she moaned. My thought process was, “That’s it? That’s all he likes about her? Wow. We sure have a basis for good relationship here.” And I couldn’t read more then a few pages of the back. It may have been a good book – I’ll never know.

    As an author I rely on reader baggage and try to use it to my advantage. But it frequently backfires with spectacular results.

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  5. Ann Somerville
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 06:37:12

    I think the baggage can vary with the genre. When I read science fiction, I have a greater tolerance for weirdness and surprises and non-linear plot and unlikeable characters than I do for contemporary stories – and I’ll accept relationship constructs and character interactions which I won’t in romance. I can more readily suspend my ‘relationship baggage’ for Pratchett than I can for Dunnett or M M Kaye.

    My baggage has also changed and grown as I’ve grown older too. I am now impatient with certain romantic tropes that I used to eat up with a spoon, but now also seek out things (older lovers, greater age differences etc) that used to turn me off when I was younger. So the ‘baggage’ doesn’t have to be a negative for a reader *or* an author.

    There is the author that can overcome those problems/issues/biased frames of references but no one author will be able to win over every reader.

    And this needs to be printed out and stapled to the forehead of every single new author. No one will like everything. You can’t make people like what they don’t like by shouting at them and calling them stupid. Not liking something isn’t a value judgment. I wonder why authors, who know perfectly well they have their own tastes and preferences and squicks, can’t accept that their readers do as well. I sometimes think that there’s a kind of madness that descends over the creative mind that makes the artist literally unable to empathize with the viewer of their work. It afflicts the great, the good, the crappy and the mediocre, and there doesn’t seem to be a cure, more’s the pity.

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  6. Jill Myles
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 06:39:32

    I totally have reader baggage, and it’s only getting worse as I tend to slim down the genres I read because I know where I get the most satisfaction.

    It’s mostly having ‘too much knowledge’. I have trouble reading good historical fiction, because if someone throws in something I don’t agree with or can’t tie back with research, it derails me. I have a LOT of trouble reading books about ‘real’ people because I start googling their real lives and if they died early? I don’t want to finish reading the book.

    I’m not talking about champagne flutes or something minor like that. Big details like a feisty heiress that starts her own business…in medieval England. Or the ‘bastard’ that inherits the Dukedom and becomes the toast of the ton. I can’t get past that.

    My husband is a great example – he’s a classically trained animation and layout artist that used to work for Disney. We can’t watch anything animated AT ALL because I’ll be happily immersed in the story, and he’ll be making groans of pain next to me. “Look at those trees! Horrible! That guy wouldn’t know how to draw a car if it bit him in the @ss!”

    They say ignorance is bliss. Totally right, and totally applies here.

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  7. Lynne Connolly
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 07:01:29

    As a reader I give a new-to-me author every chance I can. So I’m there for her, until she starts to blow it.
    Obviously it depends on the genre, and the nature of the gaffe. I write historicals, and I know quite a bit about some eras which makes it difficult for me to find a historical author I love. But if they make little mistakes – meh, no worries. I love Lisa Kleypas’s books, for instance and I gladly ignored the title gaffe in “Lady Sophia’s Lover” because I loved the book and she didn’t ram the mistake down your throat on every page. But if she’d gone on and on, or if she’d made mistake on mistake, I’m out of there. Gone.
    One way an author can please a larger potential audience is to get her facts right. That’s not to say you have to cram your book with Stuff I Know (another mistake!) but if you do say something, especially if your plot depends on it (like the stipulation Jane cites of someone forced to marry someone else in a will)make sure it’s right.
    BTW, I have an upcoming where a couple marries because her grandmother, suspecting her of lesbian tendencies, says her grandaughter has to marry someone before she gets her cash. Yes, she’s a lesbian, no, she isn’t “converted” (yuk). Hope that was okay.
    So yes, I have baggage, and so when I find an author I love, I’m hers for life. Or anyway, until she writes three bad books on the trot, and I’ll still go for the fourth, just with a bit of trepidation.

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  8. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 07:22:59

    My husband is a great example – he's a classically trained animation and layout artist that used to work for Disney. We can't watch anything animated AT ALL because I'll be happily immersed in the story, and he'll be making groans of pain next to me. “Look at those trees! Horrible! That guy wouldn't know how to draw a car if it bit him in the @ss!”

    Snicker.

    The DH and I were watching an episode of Law & Order and I started laughing-there was a car accident (I think) and one of the paramedics did something I know in real life they wouldn’t do. I’m not a paramedic, I’ve never done emergency, but I am a nurse and this was just something that wouldn’t happen in real life.

    It wasn’t a huge part of the storyline-the show would have done just fine without it. To this day, I couldn’t tell you what the rest of the show was about because I kept flashing back to that inconsistency.

    I think that’s my baggage-I don’t read too many books where the hero or heroine is a doctor or nurse because either the character is just a ‘fluff’ piece, they throw a stethoscope and think that is all it takes for the character to believable-or they make mistakes that jerk me out of the story.

    The writer’s job is to try and tell a story, make it real for the reader.

    But readers are as different as writers and what works for one won’t work for the other.

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  9. MaryKate
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 07:48:56

    I think there is a difference between an experienced romance reader, and one who picks up a romance every summer to read at the beach. I average about 300 books a year, almost 100% romance. My mother reads romance pretty much exclusively when she’s at the beach. So, she is naturally open to story lines that may seem tired to me. Because she only reads two or three romances a year, she’s much more open to where the story might take her. For me, because I read so much of it, I think I tend to be more critical as a reader. If a story isn’t working for me in the first 30-50 pages, I give myself permission to walk away.

    But I think the good news for me is that when a romance is tremendously well written, it really stands out to me. The other good thing for me at least, is that I read pretty much all sub-genres of romance, so if a historical isn’t doing it for me, I’ll walk away for a bit and read a contemporary or paranormal.

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  10. joanne
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 08:17:05

    If all a reader wants is fiction that repeats her own world view, she's asking the writer to reinforce her, not entertain and illuminate.

    If I bring “issues” to reading a work of fiction it’s that I really want to be taken out of my reality and into another’s space and time. I want to be entertained. If an author can do that, if she can make me forget that Sheikhs aren’t tall and thin or that a petite heroine would, in reality, look ridiculous standing next to a Tall, Huge Hero or that doctors don’t come out of 8 hours of surgery ready to have sex in the supply closet (er, do they?)… then she has my money and my promise to buy her future books.

    I know readers that pick at every detail in a series or book but I haven’t the time or interest to do that. Does this particular book flow easily without stopping and starting to give me a lesson? Does this book make me smile or cry or laugh? That’s enough for this book. Actually, that is more then enough work for any author and hooray for those writers that do it because it isn’t done often enough for those that love to read fiction.

    Honestly? I don’t understand readers that want a great deal of reality in their fiction. Accuracy, but not to such a high standard that it stops the story and brings in the Real World. It seems to be working against the premise of escapism — in romance books in particular– but as so many have said, different readers want different things from an author.

    My baggage: don’t make me have to work to like your fictional world and I’ll uphold my part of the writer/reader bargain… I’ll keep buying books.

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  11. Maya
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 08:22:53

    Great post. It helps if one is aware of one’s types of baggage (not always possible till one is confronted with something that challenges it) and can take it into account (even giving a heads up so readers can take your words with a grain or ton of salt) when reviewing for others. Also, judging: I’m going to be looking at contest entries soon on behalf of my writing group and will be trying very hard to ‘…give the writer a fair shot at inviting (me) in” to apply Crusie’s very excellent line.

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  12. GrowlyCub
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 09:35:32

    With regard to the contest judging I have mixed feelings. I’m all for giving every book a fair shot, but the contests where I’ve judged are asking for favorite reads. I feel really conflicted when I’m asked to give a book a fair shot (implication high grade) and to grade it on how much I liked it at the same time, when I can see the writing is good, the story doesn’t have any loopholes and the characters are well defined, but when the book leaves me absolutely cold or outright annoys me (or if the book is really not a romance in a romance contest).

    If the contest is a reader contest on how much I enjoyed reading a certain title and I didn’t enjoy it, I really don’t see how I can give a high grade because it displays good writing craft.

    In a way I agree with francois and I’m probably terrible at reviewing but I’ve nevertheless started to post quite a few on my livejournal site lately, which may or may not be helpful to other readers.

    They are way less articulate than what is posted here at DA and at other sites. There is no thoughtful analysis and they are more like snapshots of how I felt about a book since it seems I either write my ‘reviews’ right after I finish a book or never.

    I’ve tried to review for a site and I’m hoping to get back to it, but I felt an enormous pressure to be nice when I knew I had gotten the book for ‘free’ and I haven’t quite reconciled my need to be honest with the sense of obligation I get from receiving books I didn’t pay for myself or read via the library. And I’m almost suspecting that I liked a couple of the books less because I felt the (self-imposed) pressure to like them (which doesn’t make any sense at all, I know, but I never claimed to be a rational being :).

    I’ve lately taken some flak for not wanting to read certain subgenres and for requiring a HEA in romance and I quite literally see red when I hear authors say I have a responsibility to them (besides acquiring my reading material legally) to like and read what they put out and for implying there’s something wrong with me for disagreeing with them on that stance.

    In the end, if I do feel a sense of entitlement it’s because authors want me to be their customer and I guess the old adage about honey and vinegar applies to me when trying to separate me from my money. It’s highly unlikely that anybody will successfully sell me anything if they try to guilt me into buying or harangue me for having an opinion that doesn’t agree with theirs or for bitching about my baggage and declaiming how cruel it is of me to say I didn’t like their ‘baby.’

    On several occasions lately I’ve seen a certain antagonism displayed towards readers as a group by some authors on the blogs I frequent most often (DA, SBTB, KKB). This may be an outgrowth of the ‘faceless’ mode imposed by internet communication, but I have to admit my immediate reaction is to put all these authors on my never-to-be-bought list.

    I love talking to authors, getting a glimpse behind the scenes, am interested in the shop talk, but I think the internet is very much a double-edged sword, because that list mentioned above gets longer and longer.

    However, luckily for me, the list of bought books and authors added to the must-look-for-more-books list is getting longer as well.

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  13. Monica Burns
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 09:39:40

    Excellent post, Jane.

    It's why when you find a reviewer you trust, you can rely upon their recommendations. they probably have a similar frame of view.

    I think you make a critical point here for any reader. I wrote an article for readers who visit my site on how to find a reviewer they can rely on. Given the economy and the price of books, I firmly believe readers should get their money's worth from a book and finding a reviewer they can trust is vital to getting the most bang for your buck.

    no one author will be able to win over every reader. *** It's hard as an author to come to grips with this and I think it is hard as a reader too.

    As an author, it's not my job to worry about whether reader A or reader B will or won't love my books. I've learned it's impossible to please everyone. It's my job to write the best story I can and hope that it's well received. Some books I write will be better received than others, and it's definitely going to depend on suspension of disbelief mixed in with “reader baggage.”

    And “reader baggage” is something I understand well. I just finished a book that totally didn't work for me because I've lived the heroine's experience. My expectations as to the heroine's reaction to certain events were rooted in my own experiences, and the book didn't even come close to what I believe she should have been feeling. I try hard to be open about what I read and not look too deep into the archetypes, meanings or “messages” in a book. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When I read, I want to be taken away from the problems I have in my life. It's the same way when I write. I write because I want to entertain myself and others as well.

    I think there is a difference between an experienced romance reader, and one who picks up a romance every summer to read at the beach.

    And I agree whole-heartedly with MK's point.

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  14. Monica Burns
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 10:00:57

    I've tried to review for a site and I'm hoping to get back to it, but I felt an enormous pressure to be nice when I knew I had gotten the book for ‘free' and I haven't quite reconciled my need to be honest with the sense of obligation I get from receiving books I didn't pay for

    I don’t think you should feel obligated to give a higher rating just because the book was free. The point of a review is to share your opinion as to what YOU thought about the book. I think readers can point out what did and didn’t work for you in the story without crucifying an author on a personal level. It might or might not be the same reaction others have to the book, but your opinion is no less valid than someone else’s.

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  15. Emily
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 10:02:41

    Sharon Lee, co-author of the SF Liad series, recently posted what she considered the contract between the writer and the reader at:

    http://rolanni.livejournal.com/334368.html

    I found the whole post and comments fairly interesting (growlycub commented), but here’s the most relevant snippet.

    …the Contract Between Writer and Reader is this: I, the Writer, agree to tell you, the Reader, a lie, hereinafter referred to as a story. You, the Reader, agree to suspend your disbelief in this falsehood until the end of the story, OR until I, the Writer, drop the cake.

    That’s it; that’s the Whole Contract. People occasionally add ancillaries and addendums, to kind of stack the deck in their favor, like with any contract. I submit that those are artificial conditions which serve only to distort the core principal.

    For instance, I, the Writer, do not agree to:
    1) never kill off a beloved character
    2) always provide a H(appy) E(ver) A(fter) ending
    3) always write the same book
    4) always write the same kind of book

    You, the Reader, do not agree to:
    #adore everything I write
    #finish reading a book that doesn’t work for you
    #buy a book in a genre you loathe, just because I wrote it

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  16. GrowlyCub
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 10:21:36

    Emily, not sure whether my commenting on that entry is going to entice or scare people away. :) I tend to go off on tangents in case that hasn’t become obvious yet. I’m afraid to go back and look what exactly I wrote. :)

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  17. janicu
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 10:28:23

    Great post. I agree with much that has been said in the comments and with the post. I think it’s reasonable to go into a book with an open mind but at the same time, not everything works for everyone.

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  18. Chicklet
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 10:40:42

    Very interesting post, Jane. I’d like to think I read everything with an open mind, but lately I’ve noticed myself chafing at what I perceive to be the conventionality of pairings, when I want a little bit of unconventionality. I’m not necessarily looking for threesomes or polyamorous relationships (though I wouldn’t reject them if there’s a good story there, too), but something to change things up. An older heroine with a younger hero. A heroine who’s an electrician with a hero who’s an elementary-school teacher. I was telling Barbara Caridad Ferrer the other day that I would give my left ovary to get to the final page of a Harlequin Blaze and have the couple *not* be married and pregnant.

    So, that’s my baggage: I don’t read romances to end up in Father Knows Best-ville; I want an emotionally real story of how people overcome their personal stuff to forge a relationship together.

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  19. Lorelie
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 10:44:40

    Dude, I’ve got a whole trunkful of baggage. As my best friend/reading partner grumbles points out, most people “go with the flow.” I can’t do it and I’m getting worse as I go on.

    One example of my irrational biases: I can’t stand books where life is perfectly normal, except for one character or set of characters who do magic. If the whole world’s topsy turvey and there’s demons and vampires and magic, I can handle it. And if the characters raise their hands in front of themselves like some kind of magical traffic cop to do the magic? God help that book. It will sit outside on my porch, getting rained on for months, until I can get over my annoyance long enough to throw it away.

    But I don’t read those if I can help it. Don’t buy ‘em, don’t look for ‘em, and don’t run around talking smack on the authors who write them. After all, I know for sure they have an audience – like my bff. And everyone’s much happier that way, I’m sure.

    I don't read too many books where the hero or heroine is a doctor or nurse because either the character is just a ‘fluff' piece, they throw a stethoscope and think that is all it takes for the character to believable-or they make mistakes that jerk me out of the story.

    Hee! I gravitate to doctor/hospital related shows especially because I know next to nothing about the healthcare field. And therefore can’t pick them apart. Bizarrely, I can remember reading only a bare handful of doctor related romances.

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  20. MB (Leah)
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 10:55:54

    The–as a reader you agree to suspend disbelief–which I’ve read a few times here, is something that hits one of my reader baggage buttons.

    If a story is in the sub genres of: fantasy, SF, paranormal, historical, then it’s fairly easy to do so. However, in a contemporary or romantic suspense, I cannot suspend disbelief when the heroine is acting TSTL, or if the hero is so sensitive and female like in his emotional reactions, which is quite often the case. I do have a harder time with a book if there aren’t a certain amount of realistic reactions and behaviors portrayed, no matter how much I want to escape in another world.

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  21. AnimeJune
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 11:18:25

    My father’s a huge history buff – and HE nearly got him and my mum kicked out of the theatre while watching Gladiator because he couldn’t stop complaining about how the Romans couldn’t have had cavalry at that point because the stirrup wouldn’t be invented for another 400 years.

    Me, I do have baggage, but at times, I think baggage is a good thing – I mean, a baggage that would make me hate a book might make me love another book. I don’t think there would be such a proliferation of different stories and plots if people didn’t have their own baggage.

    Me? I’m exhausted by vampire/werewolf romances. I got a lot of them while reviewing fantasy novels for Green Man Review, and the dark, brooding, couldn’t crack a joke if it staked him hero gets old REALLY fast. I’m a Regency reader too and tend to be annoyed by stories about beautiful heroines and beautiful heros who fall in love and have beautiful babies. Hel-LO, read Jane Eyre people, you don’t have to be pretty to fall in love.

    In a way, I also appreciate my baggage because it influences the way I write as well – I write for my own particular baggage, I writes stories that oppose stories that annoy me. So I think without reader baggage, we wouldn’t have nearly as interesting authors and writers either.

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  22. Stephanie
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 11:19:28

    I got quoted! In any case, though, I remember my mother watching ONE episode of ER and then never again, because she was a nurse and it physically pained her to see them inserting an IV in under ten seconds. Sure.

    I generally avoid books with musicians for similar reasons, and ALWAYS, ALWAYS things that involve spelling bees. It doesn’t work that way. Sorry.

    Luckily, there are very few spelling bees in romance novels.

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  23. Corrine
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 11:29:18

    I’m with the some of the others, my baggage trails for miles behind me, and it is getting harder and harder for me to find a story that will satisfy. And, even better, it’s an interesting mix of skepticism regarding certain details (though I was horrible in history, so a lot of the things that bother other people fly right over my head) and gut-check reactions from my own personal experiences. If something strikes me wrong, bam!, book against the wall. I usually don’t think twice, though there have been occasions that I just had to find out what happened. I guess in the end, that’s what really matters, can the author draw me into the story so completely that even if they write something I’ll object to I will continue reading.

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  24. JaneO
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 11:34:50

    Of course readers come with baggage, and it affects all sorts of things -’ not just what books you like, but what foods you like, what clothes you like, what people you like ad infinitum.
    And writers come with baggage too. That’s why they don’t all write the same book.
    But I think there is a difference between saying “I like this,” which is a matter of taste, and “This is good,” which is a matter of quality. I like any number of things for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with their intrinsic quality -’ for example, I’m a sucker for any book that starts out with a train journey. At the same time, there are any number of things I can admire for their quality, but do not particularly like -’ for example, Dickens’ novels.
    Are we too careful to hedge our criticism as a matter of taste?

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  25. Sela Carsen
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 11:45:57

    I was going to say, Stephanie, where did you find a spelling-bee romance? *gg*

    I’m largely baggage free, except for one thing. I don’t read “mom” romances. I’m a mom. I like my kids. I can’t think of a single fictional kid in a romance novel that I’ve liked. (YA not included.) Those kids are not like my kids. If I had those kids, I would not find their antics cute At All. It’s just hard for me to let go of my mom-ness when reading a mom-heroine.

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  26. Laura Vivanco
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 12:05:15

    I’m the Laura V who had the problems with The Sheik and The Virgin Secretary. I wasn’t saying “I can never relate to a heroine who goes to a tanning salon.” It was just one example of something which the heroine considered “normal” and she seemed to be putting considerable emphasis on how normal she was and how exotic and unusual the sheik was. But the heroine’s comments about normality made me stop and think about my real world existence and how it would compare with hers, and whether or not she’d think I was as exotic as the sheik (though in different ways) etc. Her comments had broken not so much my suspension of disbelief, as my suspension of analysis, and although I like analysing books in an academic manner, I prefer to leave that until I’ve finished reading the book for the first time.

    Last year when I commented on the novel at DA, I quoted something that Jenny Crusie’s written about readers and how they relate to books. It was posted on the He Wrote/She Wrote blog, which has been taken down now, so I can’t find her whole post about community, so I’ll just have to quote the same bit I quoted before. Still, as Crusie was mentioned in this post it doesn’t seem inappropriate to repeat it:

    the reader will bond to the community in the book if the community appears to share her values, which means the characters would recognize her as one of their own if she came into the story and would invite her to sit down and stay. This one is pretty much out of your hands: the reader chooses the kind of book he or she likes to read, the type of book that has the kind of community that shares her values

    A heroine who keeps saying she’s normal can make some readers, who don’t resemble her, feel that she wouldn’t recognise the reader as “one of her own” and wouldn’t “invite her to sit down and stay.”

    As MB (Leah) notes, there’s a difference in what one expects in different sub-genres, and even in contemporary romance I don’t actually need or expect to have a great deal in common with the protagonists. When I’m reading for pleasure, I’d just rather the difference wasn’t written about in such a way that the issue of identification is raised in my mind and then answered in a way that places me firmly outside the novel’s community. From an academic perspective, though, it can be interesting, but it does produce a different sort of reading experience.

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  27. limecello
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 12:27:43

    I’m not in a thinky frame of mind – but yes, can’t win ‘em all. As clearly evinced when one person gives a book an A+, and another reader/reviewer gives it a D- (or gasp F).
    Curious about the first cousins though. (Like… first cousins just existing together in the book? Or… first cousins getting it on? Because I admit the latter seriously squicks me out.)
    For the marriage thing- yes, generally not ok. (For some reason that really caught my eye.) But, restrictions are ok. E.g. – “You can only marry a Jewish girl.” Restrictions saying someone cannot get married at all would be struck down. But limiting their choices [to a reasonable degree] would be fine, while limiting it to one person, most likely, not ok. I wonder what the probate judge sitting on that case would think and do… (and then you wonder why the hell the characters never challenge these crazy clauses/contracts).

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  28. Susan/DC
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 12:39:32

    I’ve definitely got baggage, but it tends to fall into categories. First, there’s the plot points that just don’t strike me as romantic. For example, books where the heroine is late teens/early 20′s and the hero is significantly older. In Real Life I know several couples where this is true. I just don’t give a damn but love them both, but in romance I want to believe in the fantasy that inner beauty counts for more than perky teenage breasts. Too many stories on the news of age appropriate first wives who’ve fulfilled the dynastic ambitions divorced for newer models with less cellulite. So I’m impervious to the argument that it was historically accurate and just put the book down if I note an 18 y.o. heroine with a 32 y.o. hero. Where this relates is that I recognize that this is my issue (luckily not based on any autobiographical experience — at least so far) and don’t judge an author based on my own neurosis.

    Second is the recognition that certain subgenres work better for me than others. I’m not a huge fan of paranormals so usually skip them, but if I decide to read one I recognize that it’s my responsibility to accept it on the terms of that subgenre. No criticism allowed because it contains paranormal beings, time travel, magic, or whatever.

    However, we then come to the third category, and this relates to comments made by some other posters. No matter what the world or the characters, the author needs to make them believable to me. Whether Regency England or LKH’s Anitaverse, I’ve got to understand why the characters do what they do and feel what they feel. They need to be consistent with the world that the author has created. If the author needs to bring in a deus ex machina to resolve the plot (whether figurative in the Regency or literal in the paranormal), then I feel I have the right to criticize her because she did not build her world adequately.

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  29. kristenmary
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 12:44:36

    I always have a problem with the couple having a baby as soon as they are married. I know for some that works out fine but my hubby and I were married for 11 years before we started having kids. For me I wonder when the couple is going to grow and mature and be a “couple” before throwing parenthood on top of it. I love my husband and my son. I love where I am now in my life but I wouldn’t have traded those years as just the two of us for anything. I think those years together made us an even stronger team and will make us better parents. So that’s my baggage and it annoys me to no end when books end with the heroine pregnant after they’ve known each other weeks. Argh. Not to say that I don’t enjoy the rest of the book or would never try that author again, it just irks me at the end.

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  30. azteclady
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 13:11:37

    GrowlyCub wisely said,

    I've tried to review for a site and I'm hoping to get back to it, but I felt an enormous pressure to be nice when I knew I had gotten the book for ‘free' and I haven't quite reconciled my need to be honest with the sense of obligation I get from receiving books I didn't pay for myself or read via the library. And I'm almost suspecting that I liked a couple of the books less because I felt the (self-imposed) pressure to like them (which doesn't make any sense at all, I know, but I never claimed to be a rational being :).

    Yes, yes, and a thousand times, YES.

    I’ve struggled with the same feelings, and I certainly hope that I’ve learned to manage them :grin: as I am still writing reviews–honest reviews too :wink:

    One of my pieces of luggage: the stereotypical Latin lover hero. Another: the ancient Maya/Aztec/insert ancient MesoAmerican culture here curse/prophecy/what have you. What can I say? I’m picky.

    Yes, I try to suspend my disbelief with every new book, but sometimes you just can’t–and there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

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  31. DeeCee
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 13:13:07

    For me, the only requirement that I have when I sit down to read a book is that I have purchased it through the right channels. I don’t feel that I owe anything to the author, least of all allegiance. I’m not a rabid fangirl, not for anyone. If the author writes a quality book that I feel has justified the price, then that book has won me over. Not the author.

    I read on one particular author’s site a long time ago that she felt books should be purchased in retail stores, and that when the reader doesn’t she gets shorted in the long run, and if everyone bought retail she’d be able to stay at home more. I am “thrifty” meaning I can’t afford to run out to my local B&N everytime a book comes out that looks good. I usually buy them from a used book store to test out the writing. If I like it, I’ll wait until the new release from that author and buy it retail. Not everyone nowadays can afford to shell out the $ for a new book, be it paperback, trade or hardcover. If you figure in my state that minimum wage is $6.00, and a paperback new at B&N is $7.19 + tax… Now for an author, I understand how they make their money. They rely on retail sales to boost their income and it allows them to hit the lists which can boost sales and careers as well. But I remember distinctly after reading this how affronted I felt. I stopped reading (and buying) this author’s books because I disagreed so strongly. I don’t feel that I should be guilted into buying books retail when it was the author’s decision to go full time writing. In the long run, readers control how many books they sell, but their publisher controls how much money they actually make. Readers are only one factor.

    Sorry for my rant. (oops) But in short, I agree that readers should have open minds, and buy books legally (instead of buying/selling arc’s on ebay for a fortune). For me, personally I have a difficult time reading stories with plus sized heroines because I find the emotions behind the book to be so fake. How am I supposed to believe in the heroine’s mental and romantic struggles to deal with being a size 18 for the past thirty years, when she jumps into the hero’s arms after having a dilemma for all of 30 seconds. Nope, not gonna happen. Or the 30 year old virgin. It’s not only a rarity these days, but completely unrealistic to have a “drop dead gorgeous” heroine wear a pair of glasses for 25 years, take them off, and suddenly be knee deep in men. I don’t pick up fiction for the realism, usually I get them because they take me away for a few hours. But I do expect common sense.

    I think we all go into books with expectations of the outcome. For me, that’s what gets me through some books (usually the god awful ones). I want to see how I can expect one thing to happen in a book, and get a completely different show. Its what can make the book amazing or awful. The ride we all take when our books open.

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  32. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 13:23:37

    My father's a huge history buff – and HE nearly got him and my mum kicked out of the theatre while watching Gladiator because he couldn't stop complaining about how the Romans couldn't have had cavalry at that point because the stirrup wouldn't be invented for another 400 years.

    Ah, the burden of being a history buff . . . I nearly got kicked out for saying waaaay too loudly WTF is she wearing? when the emperor's sister appeared in a sari with a Victorian corset over it (complete with 2-part metal busk!).

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  33. AnimeJune
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 13:28:33

    Azteclady said:

    Yes, yes, and a thousand times, YES.

    I've struggled with the same feelings, and I certainly hope that I've learned to manage them :grin: as I am still writing reviews-honest reviews too :wink:

    One of my pieces of luggage: the stereotypical Latin lover hero. Another: the ancient Maya/Aztec/insert ancient MesoAmerican culture here curse/prophecy/what have you. What can I say? I'm picky.

    Yes, I try to suspend my disbelief with every new book, but sometimes you just can't-and there's nothing wrong with that, is there?

    I’ve reviewed books at Green Man Review for four years, and I never had that problem until really recently. I’ve had publishers send me presents (key chains! Postcards! The first two books in the series for free because I’m asked to review the third!), and if the book sucks, I still say it sucks. I dunno, as a reviewer, I’ve always felt like I’m behind a safe bulletproof glass window where I can say and do exactly as I please and an author can’t gainsay me without looking like an idiot.

    However, I have to say that changed recently when I was given a paranormal romance to review that was signed by the author – to my editor. On top of that, my editor’s name was mentioned with a big giant thank you in the acknowledges as being a huge support for this author’s work. Well, the book was terrible, but for the first time I was unsure about being the one to write the review since it was obvious that the author and editor were close friends and I didn’t want to cause any friction. I still wrote the negative review of course, and it will be published, but hopefully the author won’t see it as a betrayal from her editor friend.

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  34. handyhunter
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 13:56:36

    our tastes so different that we won't come to an agreement about the valuation of “good.”

    I think there’s also a difference between “good” and “I liked”, not the two can’t be the same, but sometimes it just isn’t. Eg, I like the Twilight series (sort of, if I don’t think about the treatment of the female characters), but I don’t think it’s particularly good (see: female characters. also certain other issues).

    I stopped reading reviews for a long time, and even now tend to be careful about what I read ahead of time (especially if it’s a book I’m already planning on reading; for something I know nothing about, I might go looking for reviews/recommendations), because I found they often set my expectations, which made me unable to enjoy or asses a story without someone else’s thoughts interfering (which probably says a great deal about me. . .).

    After I’ve read something though and either want to discuss it or I suppose validate my feelings/make sure I’m not totally off-base, I might seek out reviews. But, generally, I am not invested enough in review(er)s to pay a great deal of attention to their baggage/preferences to see how they coincide with mine. I like reviews that say why they liked/disliked the book – and admit to their biases – but even that can feel like too much, for me. (Although I tend to think recommendations are another thing altogether, sometimes, and for those, I usually pay more attention to people whose taste I trust.)

    If something is well-written enough, it can sometimes overcome my general distaste for a certain theme or plot device. I don’t usually like a large age gap between the principle characters, for example, but I don’t have a problem with Laurie R King’s Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series (possibly, in part because it’s also more about Russell than anything else, including the romance).

    I wonder, though, how much of this baggage is simply reading more critically (and being less tolerant of, say, grammatical errors or plot holes or under-developed characters), or are they the same thing?

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  35. AnimeJune
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 15:07:31

    Handy Hunter said:

    Eg, I like the Twilight series (sort of, if I don't think about the treatment of the female characters), but I don't think it's particularly good (see: female characters. also certain other issues).

    Hey – that’s another baggage. I didn’t mind the vampires in Twilight, it was selfish whiny Bella I couldn’t stand. I really disliked “Twilight” because of personal baggage – I was a loner and had a lot of trouble making friends in high school, so at the beginning of “Twilight,” when the people of Forks are basically bending over backwards to be friends with Bella and she snubs them like they’re radioactive townie hicks only to fall for the guy who treats her like dog crap, I knew I wasn’t going to like the book. I couldn’t understand a lonely heroine who would intentionally distance herself from people who wanted to befriend her.

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  36. Lena
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 15:15:01

    I never actually noticed before that I had some reader baggage….but i guess I do. I find that I’m more tolerant than others but I cant read something thats not well written, no matter how much I like the story. Also, there are a lot cliches in romance and sometimes I don’t feel like reading something like that. I also tend to ignore books with kids, doctors and werewolves as protagonist .

    If I’m really bored I’ll read anything thats well written and has romance.

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  37. mulberry
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 16:50:26

    I am a nurse and this was just something that wouldn't happen in real life.

    LOL Shilo! I an a nurse too, and can’t bear to read medical romances at all- they just annoy me so much with the stupid inaccuracies. Historicals can often jar, too, with gross inaccuracies that the most minimal amount of reserach on the writer’s part would fix.

    I love fantasy romances, and will willingly suspend all manner of disbelief, as long as the writer creates a world that is internally consistent. Unfortunately, so many aren’t!

    On the other hand, I’m sure no writer sets out to create a book that will make readers want to throw it against the wall. The problem with ignorance is that we don’t always realise what we don’t know.

    I will rarely read books featuring adoptees because authors often trivialize the emotional experience and I can't relate.

    I am writing a romance where the heroine is adopted. I hope and pray I don’t trivialise her experience, but despite reading the research about the effects of being an adoptee reasonably widely, how can I know if I have got it wrong? Should I stick to “Writing what I know” or can I find a way to get it right?

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  38. handyhunter
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 18:33:03

    AnimeJune: I couldn't understand a lonely heroine who would intentionally distance herself from people who wanted to befriend her.

    Yeah, the characterizations are rather problematic too (and not only with Bella, but nearly everyone else is written to look bad in order to make certain sparkly characters look good. . .which I think is simply weak writing). Mostly, though, it’s the continual victimization of many of the female characters, and especially Bella, that I really dislike. I could live with a antisocial loner, or even an antisocial loner who is also a Mary Sue, if she weren’t so. . .anti-Buffy. Also, I dislike the controlling and manipulative nature of Edward, who gets away with everything because he sparkles or it’s all “for Bella’s own good” or whatever.

    I dunno. Personally, I would consider this more a flaw of the writing than ‘baggage’, but maybe it is my hang up. I like my female characters to have agency, and not be so passive or TSTL. And for my male characters to not be such awful examples. Unless it is deliberate and there is (a lot of) character growth/redemption or something (which I really do not think it is in the Twilight series).

    But, you know, I’m still planning on reading the last book. . . I want to see how it ends. So, there is some part of it that works for me, or I’d just stop reading it. Possibly, I’m still waiting for this series to get better.

    how can I know if I have got it wrong? Should I stick to “Writing what I know” or can I find a way to get it right?

    Have other people read it? See what they think? I don’t think it’s necessary to stick only to what one knows — I like the inverse of that adage, which is to “know what you write”, so you’re accurate and emotionally true, even if it’s about something you knew nothing about prior to starting the story.

    One of my huge peeves is horse stuff that is inaccurate, but that’s only because I will very likely notice that something is wrong. But most of that is technical, and I can get over it if the rest of the story (ie, emotions) is compelling.

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  39. Jennie
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 18:54:43

    I don’t deny having baggage, but my perspective is more a challenge to the author: “prove it.” Make me believe it, whatever “it” is. I’m actually pretty suggestible; I can be seduced, and all it takes it excellent writing. You will get me eating out of your hand with top-notch prose and characterization – I don’t care if you have John Adams delivery the Gettysburg Address at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair; I probably won’t even notice the anachronisms. It’s the author’s job, IMO, to deliver a world I can believe in. If she doesn’t, if I start to see the seams here and there, I instantly become much more critical. It’s sort of like seeing behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz and realizing that there is someone in there, pulling the levers, and the magic – the chance for real magic – is gone and can’t be regained.

    Funny that you mention Janine’s review of The Spymaster’s Lady, because I was definitely seduced by the prose in the first half of the book, and it wasn’t until the heroine began acting ridiculously, unforgivably stupid and out of character that I awoke from the spell that that lovely writing had put me under. And then I began to see some of the things Janine pointed out as flaws that were there from the very beginning.

    So, in one sense, authors have a lot of leeway with me. But since there are very few Kinsales or Ivorys out there, on a practical level, I think (know) that I am a very critical reader. Maybe I don’t give some authors “a fair shot”, but I’m not sure how to change that, even if I wanted to.

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  40. KeriM
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 21:22:15

    I agree with alot of thought processes on here. I tend to shop author first. Since that is a huge list I am usually pretty well covered. But I do stumble on to new authors and my own baggage does kick into play. I like other readers on the board outgrew some of the authors that I used to read. I mean it is to the point, I don’t even pick up their books to peruse the backs. Since I strictly read for pleasure I insist that my books must take me out of my surroundings. :-) Keri

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  41. Janine
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 23:12:45

    I don't deny having baggage, but my perspective is more a challenge to the author: “prove it.” Make me believe it, whatever “it” is. I'm actually pretty suggestible; I can be seduced, and all it takes it excellent writing. You will get me eating out of your hand with top-notch prose and characterization – I don't care if you have John Adams deliver the Gettysburg Address at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair; I probably won't even notice the anachronisms. It's the author's job, IMO, to deliver a world I can believe in. If she doesn't, if I start to see the seams here and there, I instantly become much more critical. It's sort of like seeing behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz and realizing that there is someone in there, pulling the levers, and the magic – the chance for real magic – is gone and can't be regained.

    I think there’s something to this. I was thinking about this post today. There are very few books I will categorically refuse to read because of baggage, or because of skepticism. I am even willing to read about amnesia and virgin widows.

    The only category that I am strongly resistant to is romances set against the backdrop of the Holocaust. I feel that if they do the subject justice, it’s very bleak, and if it’s not very bleak, I feel that it’s being trivialized. I’m sure that’s because I’m the grandchild of Holocaust survivors and because some of my family members’ lives were extinguished in the Shoah and that’s about as powerful as baggage can get.

    Reading Eva Ibbotson’s The Morning Gift made me realize that even one of my favorite authors could not really treat the subject to my satisfaction, at least not in the context of a romance novel, and that makes me skeptical that it can be done. But that doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t prove me wrong.

    But aside from that, I have plenty of other baggage in life that affects my responses to books, but not so much that I’m not willing to overlook those things if a book is well-written enough. Great prose and characterization go a long, long way toward seducing me as well, and making me willing to forgive a lot of other flaws.

    I don’t think there is such thing as a perfect book, there are only a books that seduce us to such a degree that we don’t notice the imperfections. And sure, that’s harder to do if we bring in negative baggage, but it’s not impossible.

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  42. Shannon C.
    Jun 04, 2008 @ 00:14:18

    My baggage? Disability is hard for me to read about because it’s a hot-button issue. I was just blogging today about how annoyed I was with Sookie Stackhouse when I started the first book in that series and she tells the readers blithely that she’s disabled. Uh, no, sweetheart. You read minds. Not a disability according to the blind girl. I still haven’t forgiven her for that, and can’t find myself liking her as a character enough to keep going, even though it was kind of a throwaway line. To that end I can’t read about blind characters anymore, because like a lot of other people, I do notice the inconsistencies. I had to ignore the parts where JR Ward talked about Wrath being the Blind King, because he his actions weren’t consistent with any disabled people I’ve ever met, and it seemed the only reason we could tell he was blind was because he wore sunglasses. The last story featuring a blind protagonist that I read was actually pretty good, and I’d go for pages without an issue, then the heroine would use both her cane and her guide dog to get somewhere and there I’d be, jerked out of the story. But I can read about deaf characters with no qualms whatsoever. And I have a soft spot for characters who are rendered mute, even though I know perfectly well that it’s rare to be completely mute.

    Oh, and re: Twilight: I couldn’t even finish the first book for the reasons that some of you mentioned. Another baggage issue, but there was no living with my best friend in high school when she got interested in a boy, so after I realized that I wasn’t going to get a coming of age story with romance as a side plot, but rather a girl getting unhealthily obsessed with a boy, at least from my perspective, I just couldn’t keep going.

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  43. Zeba
    Jun 04, 2008 @ 14:21:34

    The interface between willing suspension of disbelief (WSD) and reader baggage is interesting because it is unpredictable. You can’t ever tell…and the same thing doesn’t always work twice. Janine’s comment about Ibbotson’s Morning Gift interested me, because that is one of my favourite Ibbotson novels, and I don’t think of it in terms of Holocaust (about which I am very conscious, having relatives and family friends involved, mainly as kindertransport children and having read widely about it), but overall in terms of the war and its impact on Britain. One of my very favourite moments in the novel is when Ruth is caught by Quinn throwing rocks at the last dance for some of the young men and he tells her off thoroughly and she is brought to reappraise her views. I feel the novel is coded and not so coded family history, and the subject isn’t the Holocaust per se. It reminded me of one of my all time favourite children’s books, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr, which is very autobiographical.

    I know that I have very little patience with heroes and heroines who have crappy parents – my reaction (perhaps because my own parents had more than their share of flaws) is ‘get over it’. It doesn’t bother me when they have problematic relationships but are clearly their own people, but when it is used as an excuse for TSTL or nasty behaviour, I really reject the book. As Larkin observed, that’s what parents are there for (see This Be the Verse).

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  44. Respect, Anyone? « The thing is…
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 21:54:53

    [...] to my writing world…I happened to catch a post by Jane at Dear Author the other day; ”Hello, I’m Jane.  I have a lot of reader baggage.”  Interesting and as most of the posts on DA are, entertaining.  Quite a few people commented, [...]

  45. MB
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 14:47:44

    I personally can’t stand authors who create characters who dress completely inappropriately for the time period! Any library should have books available to the author who does even minimal research. Authors can check art history books or theatre/costuming books. They are a great source. And maybe the authors should “try” to read some of the literature from that period so they would have an idea how people thought? Just a suggestion.

    My top pet peeve? Adult women wearing their hair down in public! I’m pretty sure that in Europe, from Byzantine times to the 1920′s this just wouldn’t happen for most women.

    I won’t buy anything that is this lazily researched.

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