Reading Books I "Should" Love

Last year I wrote two posts. 1. Analyzing my reading. Where I looked at the overall books I really liked/loved and figured out which themes I loved the most. 2. Predicting books I "should" love. Which had me researching some books on my tbr and not on my tbr that I think I would love. And this post is discussing the three books I decided to read from that list. So can I predict what books I would love or not?

When Gravity Delgado walks into Cops 'n Kids, a no-frills Brooklyn boxing gym, and starts working with the legendary Coach Thomas, she joins a true melting pot of fighters. There's the flirtatious Lefty (a southpaw), hard-to-beat D-Minus ("They call me D-Minus 'cause I'm all you need"), artistic Kimani "Monster" Browne, and a host of others. At the gym, Gravity finds the unexpected: the father she's never had in her coach, not one but two romantic prospects, and, most importantly, a love and skill for boxing. If she can stay focused, despite her troubled home life, she might just have a shot at the Olympics.

With each blow, each jab, and each punch, Sarah Deming draws her readers into the gritty and inspiring world of Gravity Delgado, a Jewish Dominican teenager growing up in Brooklyn and aspiring for greatness.
I chose Gravity as a book I "should" love based on the themes: sports, culture, and family. I absolutely love books that feature a character playing a sport. In this one Gravity is a boxer which I've never previously read before. I hadn't previously had this book on my tbr. I hadn't heard much about it but I decided to give it a chance.

I ended up DNF'ing this.

Why? Well, Gravity started making stupid choices. And yeah, characters and people, in general, are allowed to make mistakes but it's the type of mistake. This girl is a really cool boxer. She has some family issues. Her mother is terrible to her and her brother. Her mother is basically a loser who doesn't feed her family and steals from her daughter. And it's unbelievable to me that Gravity didn't pick up on the fact that her mother would do the things she did in the book because it was glaringly obvious. She's a terrible person and doesn't seem to even like you. What do you expect?

But let's get back to the main reason why I stopped reading this book. Can you guess it? 

Yeah, it was the "romance." She's started getting with this guy who's obviously a loser. There's nothing wrong with her acting girly around guys. But, she should have some common sense. I can understand that she didn't have anyone talking to her about guys to stay away from growing up but you are around guys all the time. You should know. Even giving her the benefit of the doubt. I didn't want to read this book because of a silly romance decision. I read this book for the boxing, family drama, and being a Dominican female in a sport that is male-dominated. It strayed too much into the silly romance and sexual content. I don't know why modern YA seems to always have some sexual content. The majority of books I read as a teenager didn't have sexual content. If the author wanted to create tension in the story she could have done so with Gravity's competition fairly easily.

No one knows how the world will end.

On a secret compound in the Washington wilderness, Honey Juniper and her sisters are training to hunt, homestead, and protect their own.

Prepare for every situation.

But when danger strikes from within, putting her sisters at risk, training becomes real life, and only one thing is certain:

Nowhere is safe.
I chose Last Girls based on the themes of survival/nature and family. I love stories focused on family and this one focused on three sisters. This was a unique one in that they are preppers. Basically, they are training for a world-altering event. They live in a homestead which is this community in the woods with other preppers. After DNF'ing Gravity I was hoping for a better book. I hadn't previously had this on my tbr or on my radar like Gravity. It was a better choice but not by much.

Last Girls started off strong. I really loved all of the girls and the way in which they were described. Brodsky really did a great job with them. Honey, Birdie, and Blue were all unique and interesting to follow along with. This was told mostly in Honey's POV (the eldest sister) but there were a few times that this random boy's POV would come up. I was so excited because once you figure out who he is there is some real intrigue/mystery being added into the mix. But then...

It got weird.

It strayed from what I was originally excited about. It got too strange. Not to ruin anything but there are some things the leader of the compound is doing that are messed up. Conspiracies and the government got involved. An experiment of some sort was added in as well. And it just went in a way that I didn't care for. I am a character-driven reader and when the plot strays away from the characters then I begin to care less. Unfortunate, because I loved the three sisters. Also, YA authors need to really think if they truly need a love interest in their book. Is it necessary especially when they seem to be invading the main characters' privacy (good intentions or not)? No, I don't think so. 

So this one was a dud too and I was beginning to lose hope.

Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn't be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they're putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there's one thing they can't help wondering: Will Father return home safely?
Little Women was the only book that I chose that was on my tbr. I knew that I had to love it even if I got the version with two books in one. I chose Little Women as a book I "should" love based on it having death/grief, family, and an unlikely romance in the plot. This is a very family-oriented book which is one of the top themes I love. Emotional books are my top favorite theme. So I expected great things with this one. Knowing I really enjoyed the new movie and the 90's one, I knew at least this had to be a safe bet for a book I would love.

Finally, I was right.

Although, very slow. I loved every single chapter. I know many people don't care for Meg but I loved her chapters as well. And of course all of the characters. I looked forward mostly when I finally would get to see Amy and Laurie fall in love. I wasn't disappointed. This was such a success that I rated this five stars. Compared to a DNF'ed book and a two star read this was a relief. I was so disappointed by how badly I chose my books. But, the other two were by authors I'd never heard of and weren't very well known from what I can tell of the amount of ratings on Goodreads. This one was a book I was proven to like based on how popular it was but most importantly that I watched the movies and enjoyed them so much. This was a seven hundred and seventy-seven page feat. It made me really proud to get through it and love it so much. 

Do I think I always choose books unwisely? Obviously not because I have chosen books in the past I have absolutely loved. Now, should I choose books based solely on themes I love? I'm not sure. I mean when a book's summary sounds interesting it is subconsciously based on themes I love in books. So why didn't it work out this time? Maybe I chose too many YA because I've become iffier with YA more and more as the years go by. The books were fairly unknown compared to Little Women but I've read and loved books that not many people love. Maybe the authors weren't right for me. But then again I loved the beginning so much of Demetra Brodsky's book that it seems wrong to say that.

I think making an effort to predict a book I will love on themes isn't the most accurate solution. There are many factors that go into what may be a new favorite or at least a well-liked book of mine. It's not like if I enjoy one author's book I'll enjoy the other. It's not like I'll enjoy all popular books and dislike all little known or indie books. It all depends.

Maybe if I tried a wider amount of books I would have seen some correlation or maybe I shouldn't try so hard. Or maybe I should try harder because the two books I didn't end up liking weren't known to me before. They did sound interesting enough to add to my list but maybe I need to research more into the book with reviews and trying a chapter or two to really predict if I'll love a book. But the reviews may not reflect everything. They may not mention things I am aversed to. Hmm...

If I did this experiment over again I think I would make sure to look more closely at reviews. But also try books more on my radar. I also think that YA is very hit or miss with me. A lot of books are nowadays because I know what I like in books and if it strays from that I won't like it. But, YA especially. I'll have to focus more on what the romance and characters are described to be like in a story from now on. Those seem to be two of my main concerns. If there are problems in that area of a story I am instantly turned off by a book. Also, I am missing out on getting recommendations from other people. I do get them from time to time but there is always another book I am more interested in. It's something I'll have to think about.

What do you think about my experiment?
What do you think I did right? What do you think I could change?


  1. I've never actually explored my past reading in order to predict if I will love a book or not, but it's an interesting approach! I think there are definitely elements or themes that we're drawn to. I'm usually surprised by the books I end up loving, though!

    1. I'm always surprised by books I love but then I see all the elements that are in said book and it's all ones I already like.

  2. I think after several years that I have gotten really good at picking books for myself. I guess you can't always predict how you will feel about the love interest or some of the choices the characters make (as in the case of Gravity, which I liked), but I thought your reasons for picking the books were solid.

    1. I think I\m never perfect at it even if I know most if not all my reading tastes. YA is hit or miss with me so I've been exploring more adult books lately so as my reading taste have changed I haven't been able to predict books I'll love right away.

  3. I love that you are exploring this. It's definitely something to look closer into, I think. I generally am good at selecting books I know I would like. I think that bears out in my ratings and small DNF list. There are certainly books that I end up not caring for because of the execution or writing style perhaps, or maybe it's just no the right time for the book, but I don't know that we can always predict that based on what books call to us. Even the reasons for your DNF and mixed review--they aren't necessarily things you could have seen ahead of time--other than perhaps reading different reviews that may have touched on those issues--but even then, they might not and you wouldn't know unless you tried on your own. I do that occasionally when I am on the fence about a book or don't know anything about it--check Goodreads reviews to see what others are saying. I look at both positive and negative reviews--and the middle of the road reviews. Sometimes someone will mentioned something that I know will bug me too--or perhaps something they didn't like that I know I won't mind. So, I think your idea of doing more of that might help. I know it's different for everyone.

    I was thinking the other day how I dismiss certain books because I see mention of certain themes and wonder how many good books I might be passing up.

    I think it's an interesting experiment and worth exploring further!

    1. I agree that we can't always predict books we'll love. I've even read books by the same author thinking I would love them but authors can get better or worse as they go along unfortunately. I might be incorporating deep research into another experiment so I might do a better job at predicting books I'll love.

      Thank you!

  4. Fun challenge. I read Last Girls and really loved it, but I completely get all your points for not enjoying it as much. I feel like I do a pretty good job at choosing books I'm going to like. Reading other reviews first is always a help too though!


    1. It was so good until the end. I was looking for one things but got something else. It happens.

  5. I tend to stick with the same 20 - 30ish authors whose voice I enjoy, rather than choose books bases on themes or tropes. Sometimes I will give a new author a go, though this can be hit or miss in terms of success.
    Even if the results didn't feel great I think it was a good experiment to try and definitely a learning experience.

    1. I'm always reading new authors so it's always interesting when I hear people stick to the same author but it's usually like five authors... I think it would be nice to have a set 20 authors that I continually go back to. I think I go back to authors eventually but not as much as I should.
      Yes, I think I learned a lot if I were to recreate this experiment.


Post a Comment