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2010 July 20

You’re familiar with this cover, I presume? It started as a low hum, then a kind of insistent buzzing, and then it had descended on Boston like some kind of fever. That ubiquitous yellow cover–one night after work every single other person reading a book on the train was reading a Steig Larsson book (it was rush hour, so that was nearly ten people, in my train car alone).

Clearly, these books have sparked a virtual storm of interest and hype–this NY Times article sums up the frenzy, saying that publishers are scrambling for more Nordic Noir, ransacking Sweden’s resources for the next big thing (Larsson tragically passed away in 2004, shortly after the publication of the second book in the series).

I usually find myself eschewing whatever hyped series the masses are devouring: I HATED The DaVinci Code (I quit about 100 pages in because I couldn’t tolerate it anymore) and was only mildly entertained by the first Harry Potter book, so I’ve all but given up on the trendy books. However, this time around,  I found myself drawn to the idea of reading this massively popular novel, if only just to find out what all the buzz is about. It’s July, and I want to lose myself in an old-fashioned page-turner–the kind of book I could stay up all night reading just to find out what happens.

Using my powers of persuasion, I convinced my book club that this would be the perfect summer pick. We are meeting on Thursday, and I’m only about 150 pages in (the book is 590 pages long), and…I still don’t get it. What is the big deal about this book? People keep telling me it will get better, and maybe I need to be patient, but I don’t wanna be patient! I want it to be good now!

Have you guys read it? What do you think? Without any spoilers, what do you think is the attraction of this series?

9 Responses Post a comment
  1. July 20, 2010

    people like to read about rape. or watch it. they are scared of it and they are interested in it. two contrary impulses! I think that’s why SVU is so popular. there is a lot of really graphic rape in that book — it’s titillating but still condemned. so people can get their fix and still feel good about themselves because it’s contained.

  2. July 20, 2010

    Having read it about a year ago, before all the hype, here are my thoughts: It’s fascinating in it’s story, riveting it’s drama, but the writing is just MEH. However, when i read it i hadn’t heard of it. I had no expectations, while I’m assuming you have very high ones.

    Some of the girls in my book club (we read it) RUSHED to get books 2 and 3 immediately, running to friends in London for earlier publications that the American schedule. I did not. in fact, I only recently bought #2 and read it last month. And although #2 ends on a crazy cliffhanger (#1 does not), I only have a slight desire to buy book 3. but not until paperback.

    I think you have the same issue that I do with most of the books that start a “craze.” These books are written and loved by the masses, and your reading level is higher than the masses, so you find a lot of it really obnoxious. Like me, you’re a literature snob. Once you’ve finished, please PLEASE read Nora Ephron’s take on these books

    These books are the Jersey Shore of Literature. You are drawn to them, you can’t put them down, but they’re terrible and you know it. They’re also an important piece of today’s culture that you should experience. Lisbeth Salander will always stick with me, just like Snooki.

  3. Joe permalink
    July 20, 2010

    Calling Harry Potter the “Jersey Shore” of literature is a pretty gigantic insult, considering one is a massive achievement of the imagination and the other is complete fluff, addicting only in its manufactured mindlessness.

    Anyone who loves books should be very, very careful before they destroy the transformative popular examples of the medium. A film critic might have their doubts about the reverence given to Star Wars, but it would be a big stretch for anyone to call those movies “terrible.”

  4. Dawn permalink
    July 20, 2010

    I just couldn’t bring myself to read it this year. A co-worker read it and liked it, but I’m not sure I trust her opinions, and the subject and the writing style I sampled just didn’t appeal to me. I’ve put it off until further data collection can be made from friends I trust. So… finish so I don’t have to (or do), please. :)

  5. July 20, 2010

    Oh dear Joe. I have not read Harry Potter past book 1, but I was talking more about The DaVinci Code and Twilight ( trendy books I have read). Twilight, for the record, IS complete manufactured fluff, and is pretty terrible. Can you at least agree with me on that?

    Also, I meant “these books” as the Steig Larsson books, not the others Jill references.

  6. Joe permalink
    July 20, 2010

    Oh I didn’t know we were talking about Twilight. Those books suck.

  7. July 22, 2010

    Very interesting. This is our next book for my book club. I’m actually kind of excited to read it because I think it has potential. I have also been told to be patient through the beginning. I have to finish up Harry Potter and then I’ll start in. I’ll get back to you!

  8. July 22, 2010

    I refuse to read any book someone tells me will get better after the first third. If you can’t capture the readers interest right away, why bother. Cut out the boring drivel, find a new way to say it, and chop the length of a the book down .

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