Sunday, August 30, 2009


Meeting in a café by Constant Désiré Clety ,1899-1955 So I’m back in the grocery store yesterday afternoon (because I can’t organize a week’s cooking menu to save my life) and I’m navigating the extremely crowded aisles at the Harris Teeter. They’re having a Buy 2-Get 3 free Breyer’s ice cream deal, and I was intrigued by the idea of having that much ice cream crammed in my freezer.

My happy epicurean daydream was suddenly interrupted by a conversation two women were having next to me. “Did you know that Nancy has swine flu? She’s horribly, horribly ill. And I just saw her the other day!”

I’m not proud to admit that I got as far away from Nancy’s friend as possible. With two kids in the house, I’m already a germ magnet and there has been an incredible amount of press devoted to H1N1 here in North Carolina. The schools are making automated phone calls about it, the newspaper has a story about it just about every day, and the television news is rife with it. You’d think it was like cholera in The Secret Garden or something---run! Run for your lives!

This hype makes me wonder if I should even care about H1N1 (although I wasn’t taking any chances at the grocery store.) I mean, I already wash my hands about 2 million times a day, and have the dry skin to prove it. I know this virus is serious. But so is the seasonal flu and really everyone is incredibly blasé about seasonal flu. The fact that it’s getting so much press makes me suspicious.

Hype in general makes me suspicious, actually. I also wonder about heavily-promoted books. I usually see hype this way: Literary fiction=no hype unless Oprah discovers it. Chick Lit=lots and lots of hype. Cleverly written novels=cult-like hype that sometimes results in mainstream success. Genre fiction=author generated hype and hype from avid genre fiction readers (which is VERY appreciated by genre fiction authors.) Best selling series=publisher-generated hype .

I was a rebellious child in many ways and sometimes I think I haven’t grown up all that much. The more I’m told by the press to read something, the less I want to read it.

It’s gotten so that the few people I really believe are book review bloggers. Why? They’re devoted readers. They care about the plot and the characters. They’re not making a dime from the process. They are savvy readers who read a ton of books from a variety of genres.

There are some fantastic book review bloggers out there. Some of them are listed in my sidebar. Now I have a to-read list that’s pages long---but I’m excited about the books on the list. And I feel they were recommended by friends.