Monday, January 23, 2012

Are Expectations Lower After a Disappointing Book?

This topic came to mind after I read The A Circuit, a novel about a few preppy kids in competitive jumping. Sadly I finished the book being slightly dis-enamored with the characters and uninterested in completing the series.

The next book I read was Anna and the French Kiss, which I thoroughly loved.  But then I thought, would I have loved it as much if I hadn't just been disappointed? Could it be that I was only pleased with Anna because  I wasn't pleased with Circuit?

I think it's more than possible. It happens when I'm reading books for school. Currently I am tackling a dialogue novel from 15th century Spain entitled The Celestina. After reading a few scenes I am more than happy to dive into a chapter of Uglies. Which now makes me wonder, what books do I have good memories of that I might find worse if I read them now, simply because back then I'd just read something I didn't like?

If I can make that last sentence any more convoluted, let me know.

What do you think? Are our expectations for books lower or higher after we read something we didn't like?


  1. Hmm, good question. I think a previous read could influence expectations for whatever book I might pick up next.

  2. That's interesting to think about. I definitely agree our reading choices are affected by our recent reads, to a degree, but I haven't ever consciously paid attention. I suspect the reverse is true, too - you just finish a spectacularly awesome book and the next one you read is constantly being compared to it (even if only at a subconscious level). Maybe books you'd otherwise have quite enjoyed end up falling flatter because they have to follow up that great book.