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HOW NOT TO JUDGE BOOKS AND MY DISCOVERY OF NANCY ROBERTS September 22, 2010

Posted by lycan librarian in book reviews, Books and reading.
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     We have all heard the expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” which is wise advice, but there are so many other ways we judge books that keeps us from reading some really great titles.
     Having written a mash-up, I fully realize that a great deal of people see mash-ups as the work of Satan, himself, and now view me as a hack who can’t come up with her own ideas. They think each and every mash-up is a cut and pasted glob consisting of the original book and a touch of the modern monster tucked in here and there. Were this true, there would be thousands more mash-ups than those which exist, because anyone could and would write one. I also have to hear the genre get trashed from people who merely thumb through the books in a bookstore. There was actually a writer who did that to LITTLE WOMEN AND WEREWOLVES recently on his blog. I have come to expect it, but not from a fellow writer. This particular writer is unpublished, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but in this case I think it might, since  he also said he had to dumb down the novel he was writing so readers could “get” it since the work is so extremely brilliant and complicated. 

     Personally, I have a bad habit of dismissing anything in the romance genre and certain popular authors. I know I have missed out on numerous wonderful mysteries because I have found some to be aggravating reads. If there is not enough of a parallel or supporting story outside the mystery to keep me reading, or if I don’t absolutely adore the writing style, I often get too antsy wanting the mystery solved, and skip to the back of the book. Once I have the answer to the mystery, the book is ruined for me. I have read plenty of mysteries which I loved and recommended to others, yet  I still hesitate when I see “mystery” on the cover.
     The other day I picked up a book from the library that I had put it on hold from another branch. It’s a 1993 title that was in its seventh printing in 2002 entitled BLACKBEARD AND OTHER PIRATES OF THE ATLANTIC COAST By: Nancy Roberts. (Yes, another book about pirates.) Flipping to the back and looking at the author photo (the black and white to the right) almost made me put the book back. The author looks to be a mature, extremely well-groomed woman who exudes wealth and etiquette. How could she possibly relate to pirates? I read her bio and saw this book is one of over twenty titles that have collectively sold well over a million copies. That convinced me to bring the book home, and I found the Blackbeard book to be fantastic! Roberts has managed to pick out incredible details that were missing from every other pirate book I read — including those penned by Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket, the inventors of Talk Like a Pirate Day. (Seriously, their books are fun, but not the best selections for serious pirate research. Apparently the wench Roberts be able to hold her own well against the men!) 

     I looked Roberts up after being impressed with her book, and, sadly, she died in 2008. Her books are all about extremely interesting subjects like ghosts and the haunted South, and she was known as the First Lady of American Folklore. It would have been quite a loss for me to have never discovered a woman who had the creative vision to write a kids’ book called BLACKBEARD’S CAT about a time traveling cat who winds up (in one tale out of nine in the series) as a mouser on Blackbeard’s ship.

     As a small tribute, I have included the colored photo, which is a much more suitable, and saucy, portrait of the author.

     I have learned a lesson here, and may even pick up a mystery or two, although I still don’t feel quite ready for a romance novel.

     By the way, I am such an idiot. I missed National Talk Like A Pirate Day! The day came and went before I realized it. Arr!

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