Discussion: The Popularity Principle

I recently finished reading the second novel in an extremely popular series. Despite my general boredom and in spite of my infuriation with the characters the entirety of both books, I decided to keep reading. Only a very small part of the decision was because I  genuinely wanted to know what comes next in the story. (I do have a problem with never DNFing that I need to get over.) But the majority of the decision was made because I feel compelled to read popular series and books.

The primary reason is because of social media. I was a bookstagrammer before a blogger, and I still use that platform more than any. You’d only need to scroll for 5 minutes, if that, before you’ve read at least one post about how great Rhysand is or how much Kaz and Inej are someone’s OTP. My need to be in the know and a part of the discussion supersedes my desire to run away. It’s the same reason I click on news articles about the Kardashians and Justin Bieber.

 

Fortunately, I do like a wide variety of different genres within young adult and new adult, and I’m generally easy to please. (I give a lot of 3 and 4 stars, but those are usually genuinely good reviews. My 5 stars are precious and reserved for precious gems.) Occasionally, I do come across the extremely popular book that leaves me shook but not in the good way. I’m left feeling bamboozled by the entire book community, and like maybe there’s something wrong with me because I’m interpreting characters and situations in an entirely different way than the majority of readers…

 

What I hate the most about myself is that I know that I have no self-control or self-preservation, and the popularity principle will always win me over in the end. As much as I may dislike the characters or the story, or be bored out of my mind, I’m going to hate-read my way through a popular novel or series just to stay current and be able to understand conversations happening around me.

But as with anything, I think it’s important to have read the book/series to have a valid opinion, even if it’s a criticism if you’re going to participate in discussions. (Note: It’s never cool to go onto someone’s blog or into their posts/mentions to be an asshole and bash the books/movies/shows/characteres they love. I’m strictly speaking of criticism in terms of writing your own blog posts/tweets or participating in chats or discussions where your opinions are solicited.)

Have you ever succumbed to the popularity of a series, books or movies, and finished the whole thing because of it’s popularity even though you didn’t love it?

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7 Comments

  1. I get where you’re coming from, since I discovered the book community I’ve started to read a lot more “popular” books than I did before. Most of them I enjoyed a lot, but sometimes a book or series just isn’t for you. I’ve also read books that I read because of the hype and didn’t like. I think that you have to start reading a book because you like the premise and if other people recommended it to you, that’s a plus, but it shouldn’t be the only reason for reading a book.
    I haven’t read a single Sarah J. Maas book even though it has been recommended to me so often, I just don’t know if it’s something for me. So I might read one of her books if I have the opportunity along the way but I’m not going to buy them any day soon.

    1. I agree completely. I wouldn’t read a book if the premise didn’t interest me, regardless of popularity (i.e. Colleen Hoover books and some other new adult romance). I did read SJM because it’s disguised as high fantasy (it’s not, really). Sometimes I hate I discovered the book community because of the whole books you read because they’re popularity, but there’s also a lot of books that I’ve discovered that I love because of it. Plus, I’m able to keep a closer tab on authors who were already my favorites.

        1. Other than the fact that the characters are fae, it’s mostly romance. There’s maybe 100 pages total (out of over 500-600 pgs) where there is actually action and all the elements I associate with fantasy.

          1. Ah okay, hmm I still don’t know what I should think of it. I don’t particularly like high fantasy so that’s probably why I’ve been putting it off, but I don’t know if romance is much better

  2. I relate to this post so much.

    My need to be in the know and a part of the discussion supersedes my desire to run away This. Seriously THIS SO MUCH.

    I can never resist something that’s popular because I just need to KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON. I’m so curious and I just want to be a part of all the discussions. Whether the hype is good or bad I still need to read the book because I have to experience it for myself. .

    Brilliant post, Elle!

  3. I do the same thing! Especially from bookstagram, I really didn’t like Glass Sword but I’m still going to be tempted to pick up the last book just because its popular. Also when Fifty Shades of Gray was big I read the first hated it and then picked up the second and continued to dislike it but by then I just had to finish the series because I was already nearly done XD Great post!

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