Episode 18

When Books Cause (Rather Than Solve) Problems

Welcome to the Dear Book Nerd podcast! This is a biweekly show that answers your questions about life, love, and literature. My guest co-host this week is the remarkable Marc Tyler Nobleman! We answer the three listener-submitted questions below and discuss issues such as: what do you do when the back of a book isn’t an accurate portrayal of what’s IN the book? Is fiction inherently “dishonest”? And how do I get back my love of reading after loss?

Marc Tyler Nobleman is the author of Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman (which made the front page of USA Today) and Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman (which inspired a TED talk) as well as others. Upcoming picture book titles include nonfiction: Thirty Minutes Over Oregon and fiction: The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra. You can find Marc on Twitter @MarcTNobleman and you can find his books on Indiebound (as well as the usual places). Thanks, Marc!

This episode was sponsored by I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre and Matched by Ally Condie.

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QUESTIONS DISCUSSED:

Dear Book Nerd,

You know the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” What about judging a book by its “back”? I recently read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl because (so help me!) the back of the book summarizing the plot made it sound “interesting”. I finished it and for lack of a better word, hated it. The story was NOT what I thought and hoped it would be about at all. A few weeks before reading Gone Girl I had read a sci-fi novel called Blind Lake by Robert Charles Wilson. The book was good but I sadly realized that the back of the book gave away some major plot points and the story was spoiled for me. I then remembered one of my English teachers in college saying “One of the worst things any reader could ever do is read the back of a book.” I thought this advice was silly up until now. I wonder if I would have liked Gone Girl if I had zero expectations of what the storyline could have been. I know I would have been more surprised and invested in Blind Lake‘s story and characters if I didn’t already know the outcome! What are your views on reading the backs of books, and have you ever had moments like mine?

Back of Book Blues

Dear Book Nerd,

I just started listening to the podcast, and I love it! Here is my question: When I was in college, a philosophy professor who I greatly admired said that he never read fiction because it is composed of “lies.” This was dismaying to me, as I adore fiction of all kinds. I don’t see how fiction is dishonest; the fact that it didn’t actually happen doesn’t mean it can’t speak to deep truths about life, love, human nature, etc. (and I find that good fiction often does explore these themes). What do you think? Is it just academic pretension, or is there a real lesson here? Thanks!

Lana

Dear Book Nerd,

I am a reader and an amateur writer who is working on getting a career as a librarian. Books have been my passion for almost all my life.

Over the past several years, I have gone through several losses that have affected my entire life. I have been going to a psychologist and it has helped me move on in my life in other areas, though it is a slow process.

One thing that has been an issue is that since these losses started happening, my desire to read has diminished considerably. It is very hard for me to be interested in a book let alone excited about it. In the past two years, I can only think of one book that I read from beginning to end with excitement and no lagging in the middle. I am able to read for school work and can slowly read some books, but overall, there is no spark. Not even my favorite books are helping me.

What should I do?

The Depressed Reader

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LINKS DISCUSSED:

7 Secrets to Writing Persuasive Back Cover Sales Copy (The Book Designer)

Why Fiction is Good For You (Boston Globe)

How To Dump A Reading Slump (Book Riot)

A Useful List of Books About Depression by Someone Being Treated For Chronic Depression (Book Riot)
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NOTE:

If you are feeling depressed/suicidal/like you want to hurt yourself, please know that you are not alone and there is help. In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). Click here for more information.

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