Getting Literary Heavy With The Help


Even though this blog is called The Fashionable Bookworm I know you guys probably expect me to talk about books on here more often.  I was for a while, but if you’ve been following me long enough you’ll know that I deleted the majority of my “opinions” on the books I’ve read, save one and that is Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling.  Why, then, if this blog is partially about books, do I not write about them much?  The reason is actually simple.  I write books and since I do so I’ve come upon a few conundrums.  One, as an author I need to protect my author brand and it isn’t fair for me to write reviews on other people’s works if I don’t have anything nice to say. I’m not saying that all of my reviews were vitriol fueled rages against the writing of others, but I was honest in how I felt about what I was reading. Most book reviewers are, but it must be remembered that most book “reviews” and even most “critiques” are nothing more than opinion and personal preference. Just like some people prefer fall over spring.  Very few reviewers will give helpful feedback on how well a book is written. It doesn’t mean that their word is gold or “right” its just their opinion.  So, I decided that unless I am 100% in love with a book, meaning I can recommend it whole heartily to a friend, then I won’t post about it on this blog. Because, lets face it, I am not an expert in writing, therefore who am I to review or critique another person’s work?

This brings me to my second problem.  Since I’ve read Rowling’s book, back in July, I have not read a book that I felt I could post on here. I’ve read many books from a variety of genres, but I have not been really excited about any of them.  I don’t know why, but the more I learn about writing the less I enjoy the writings of others because I can all of a sudden see the flimsy characters, plot holes, and awkward dialogue. (Once again, this does not mean I think my writing is better, its just I pay attention to these details more and they actually bother me now.)

Last night I finished Kathryn Stockett’s The Help.  Yeah, yeah I’m late on the bandwagon, but I usually always am. For some reason when something hits the stratosphere culturally I tend to shy away from it.  I honestly did not walk into my local bookstore with the intention of picking it up, but when I saw it on the shelf I flipped it open to the first page and read.

I was hooked.

The writing in this book is so different from my own, but in a good way. Everything is simple, precise, and clear without seeming too oversimple or thin….if that makes sense.  I’ve read a lot of books where the sentences are short and quick, but it often makes the pacing seem choppy and uneven.  The story is so rich in this book, that you don’t even hardly notice how simple the writing is.  I’m not saying her writing is simple in a bad way, rather it keeps everything clear and uncomplicated, which is a beautiful thing because the story itself is so complicated. I absolutely love the characters she told the story through, and wanted so many time to reach through the pages to help or comfort them.

I know Stockett said, in the author’s notes, that she knows she will never be able to truly speak in the voice of those women who were maids or went through what they did, but I think she did an amazing job bringing just a sliver of their experiences to life.  I don’t often read big, heavy, literary pieces, but I am so glad that I picked this one up and gave it a chance.  It is a beautiful story, brilliantly written. I am also really glad that, although society is still not perfect, that we have come a long way since those days of segregation.  I just wish they would have never happened to begin with.


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