Wednesday, November 03, 2010

And now for something completely different . . . why I'm not going to read A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein

A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein
Copyright 2009
Algonquin Paperbacks - General Fiction
315 pages, including a note from the author and discussion questions

For a switch, I'm going to tell you a little about a book I received unsolicited from Algonquin Books and why I'm not going to read it.

A Friend of the Family tells the story of a successful doctor's fall from grace. A neighbor's daughter is involved, somehow and the book describes his struggle to regain his family and reputation, evntually revealing how he managed to screw up his life. The story is billed as a suspenseful tale, "superb storytelling", "powerful", "hard to put down". There are plenty of positive adjectives in the form of quotes from various publications on the back of the book.

So, why am I not going to read the book? There are two reasons. I read about the book when Algonquin sent me a catalog, earlier this year, and it did appeal to me, at first. I like the idea, the fact that it's supposedly very suspenseful and written with skill. But, not long after the book was released, I read a few reviews that actually gave away a crucial bit of plot and at least one trusted friend described it in particularly negative terms. Both occurred months before an Algonquin publicist sent me a copy of the book.

When A Friend of the Family arrived on my doorstep, I had a vague feeling that it was a book I'd written off, but I couldn't remember why. And, guess what? I went to look at a review or two and found the same spoilery mess, all over again. I'm as guilty as the next gal when it comes to occasionally spilling the beans, although I try not to publish spoilers and I post warnings if I know I've written something that may potentially spoil the reading for others. But, wow. Lots of spoilers out there and they totally, completely ruined the book for me. I knew I wouldn't be able to get through 300 pages knowing what I knew. So, I'm not going to read the book.

If you're interested in A Friend of the Family, I highly recommend that you avoid reading the reviews -- instead, either read the cover blurb or flip through the book to see if the style grabs you.

And a quote before I part with my copy of a totally different book:

In the ensuing silence, I have time to contemplate the word cute--how dismissive it is, how it's the equivalent of calling someone little, how it makes a person into a baby, how the word is a neon sign burning through the dark reading, "Feel Bad About Yourself."

--from Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

©2010 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. Ooh, spoilers kill books for me too! I have a friend who lives for spoilers and thinks everyone does too and it drives me bananas.

  2. Rosemary,

    Really? That's interesting! I'll occasionally peek ahead if I'm concerned that a book's headed in a direction I won't like, but I do not want a reviewer to tell me specifically what's going to happen in a book. That totally ruins the fun!

  3. I love that you shared why you weren't reading this book. I've thought about doing a similar post to share why I've decided to not read the Hunger Games.

    And, while I hate spoilers, I do like knowing some details ahead of time. Especially the details that tell me if there is lots of profanity or sex, because it saves me reading a book I most likely end up not liking.

    I think that if a reviewer is going to post spoilers or crucial plot points, they definitely need to have a spoiler warning!

  4. Great idea for a post, Nancyroo! I'm always fascinated by the reasons people pass books over--as much or more than why they jump on them. I may rip you off and do a post likes this, too. :D

  5. I remember looking through the Algonquin catalog but don't remember this book at all, which I guess means it didn't appeal to me either. :)

  6. Holly,

    I've never thought to write about why I'm not reading a particular book, in the past, but I thought it would be fun for a change of pace. You should definitely share why you're not going to read The Hunger Games! I'm curious. I actually tried reading it and didn't get very far, but that could have just been my mood.

    I do like knowing in advance about profanity, graphic sex & violence. Those are not things I consider spoilers but rather warnings. Giving away a crucial plot point, though -- yikes. The whole concept of "suspense" was totally shot because those particular reviewers revealed too much.


    Steal away, babe. It was a really fun change of pace. You keep things interesting, but I'm finding I need to find more things to write besides reviews. I'm feeling a little dull and regurgitated in the blog content, lately.


    A Friend of the Family did interest me, when that catalog showed up; but, I remember it was spoiled right away so I just moved on and forgot about it. I guess it's good in a way, since the spoilery bit also gave away the fact that I would not have liked that particular turn of plot.


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