Book shelves in coffee shops, Little Free Libraries, rummage sale that advertise books. They are hope dashers. Hopes Dashed on the Parkway. There, that’s a great name for a penny romance. I bet I can find a copy of it in the local coffee shop book shelf. It’s written by Catherine Coulter, I think. Or is it Nora Roberts.
For those of us who enjoy a nice novel, who enjoy browsing books stores and libraries, who love cracking open a lovely piece of fiction, we cringe whenever we pop open the neighbor’s Little Free Library door. Regret at the Library Door. There’s the name of another pocket book to read while walking on the treadmill at the gym.
You’ll know how to spot one of these pocket books. They are mass market paperbacks that are approximately 4×7 inches. They usually have a busy cover; warm, pastel colors; and are well worn and well loved. Based on my mother’s habits, these books were passed from friend to friend in a plastic grocery bag, read, and passed to the next friend.
My mom loved Mary Higgins Clark and probably read all 51 of her bestselling suspense novels. Not sure she bought any of them new. All were paperbacks. Do Higgins Clark or JD Robb ever get published in hardcover? They must but seeing one is a rarity. What are the steps for Nicholas Sparks to go from the supermarket shelf to the free giveaway? How many years does it take?
If you think I’m unfairly picking on the romance genre, I’ll concede that Dan Brown, Brad Thor, and Stephen King are not immune to this congenial brand of recycling. Nor are the popular series and trilogies: Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and Twilight are popular in these outlets. But even when you see them you think, “C’mon, been there done that.”
Some say publishing books wastes trees. But when you open a Little Free Library to find Moon Over Mist, Secondhand Bride, 18-year-old paperback children’s books, The Migraine Cookbook, and the copy of Dr. Spock that survived the movie Raising Arizona, you’re witnessing the worst waste of 2x4s, plexiglass, roof shingles, and anchoring cement.
All of this criticism comes from my admitted deep sense of snobbery, pretentiousness, and other keen senses that prevent me from enjoying things I deem below me. This highhandedness mostly pertains to books and food in my case. That said I don’t understand why you’d build one of these book nooks or have a bookshelf in your shop and have the most undesirable of books for people who like to read. People browsing these sites are looking for a satisfactory read, a book to add to their Goodreads list. Not a let down.
Step up your game, people. I’m not Looking for Love or Terrified in the Daylight, nor do I need Dr. Oz’s Insomniac’s Guide to Good Health. I’m not looking for Faust or Kafka; I’m looking for something good enough to give at least three stars and to recommend to my sisters.