Perhaps you’re familiar with this situation to which I am referring in the title of this post. You buy a best-selling book that has been talked about everywhere, you read it and love it and think “goodness me, this writer is amazing. When they release their next book I am certainly going to buy that and read it and love it and stare lovingly at it whilst sipping my morning coffee, as well.” And then that particular author publishes their next book, and you rush out and buy it, perhaps still in hardback, and with more excitement than you know what to do with, you put it on your shelf, intending to read it in the next few days, and then promptly forget about it. The days pass, turn to weeks, then months, and suddenly you realise you’re actively avoiding reading these follow-up books (not necessarily sequels) and you’re not even entirely sure why.
Anyway, if you don’t do this, don’t worry, maybe I’m just weird (please, someone, tell me you do this too). But I thought I would briefly mention a few books I bought after reading a previously published best-seller, only to accidentally not read the follow-up.
The predecessor to this book was Gruen’s hugely successful Water For Elephants, which has since been adapted into a film (the book is a lot better, of course). I loved this book about the circus life during prohibition era, and found the writing was well researched and highly evocative, completely warranting the hype. Ape House was the next book Gruen published (yes, she has a thing with animals in her books), and the description on the back makes it sound more than interesting:
“Six extraordinary bonobos who know sign language, a scientist who understands (and likes) animals more than people, animal rights protestors who liberate the apes right into the hands of an unscrupulous TV producer who produces a reality TV show which becomes the biggest phenomenon in the history of modern media…who will save the bonobos from this parody of human life?”
Once again, this book was highly researched from first hand experience, including actually communicating with great apes, and I have heard nothing but rave reviews about the novel. I even have this sneaking suspicion that I would prefer it to her previous book, if only I got up off my butt and read it (or maybe sat back down and read it – standing and reading would become tiresome eventually).
Hosseini’s first book, The Kite Runner, is one of the most loved books of the last decade, and has also been made into a film, which was actually quite decent for a nice change. Likewise, A Thousand Splendid Suns is also set in Afghanistan and around the time that the Taliban take over the country, changing the lives of everybody as they bring nothing but brutality, fear, and suffering. The book revolves around a friendship between Mariam, who had been sent to Kabul for marriage as a teenager two decades prior, and Laila, a local teenager, and presumably this friendship is tested with the arrival of the Taliban, leading to acts of love and heroism and so on and so forth. The story does sound great, and many reviews have declared that this is an even better book than Hosseini’s first, so why on Earth have I not read it yet? There’ll be a third book by this author soon no doubt, so I need to hurry up and read this.
Niffenegger shot to fame a few years ago with the enormous success of her debut novel The Time Traveller’s Wife, a novel which I must confess I really enjoyed, and which combined the elements of a romance story and time travel story in a simple but effective manner. Again this was also made into a film (I hadn’t realised this aspect of all these authors until I found myself almost finished this post – oh well), further cementing the appeal of the story. In Her Fearful Symmetry, she has taken a different turn, instead writing a ghost story based around a pair of identical twins who inherit their estranged Aunt’s flat overlooking Highgate Cemetery in London upon her death, only to find themselves entangled with the various personalities found with the apartment block. No doubt the similar themes of love and loss come into play, but the story itself sounds significantly different and intriguing, and again I wonder why I haven’t yet read this book. Soon my pretties, soon.
While I contemplate why I haven’t read these books, I can’t help but think that maybe it’s precisely because I was impressed by the author’s earlier works – my expectations are already heightened and so I don’t want to be potentially disappointed, which is a silly reason not to read a book, if ever there was one.
Do you have any follow-ups to best-sellers that you haven’t read but have wanted to read?
Have you read any of the books I mentioned here? If so, what are your thoughts?