Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cherry Garcia vs. Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how subjective taste is. What makes one person love something that another person has a hard time swallowing, let alone enjoying? The other night my husband and I sat down to watch a movie. After fifteen minutes he left the room to watch a hockey game on another television. I continued to watch the movie. It wasn’t the best movie I’d ever seen, but it wasn’t the worst, either. I found the character studies fascinating, even if the plot left a bit to be desired. And I enjoyed the movie enough to want to sit through it until the end to see how the conflicts were resolved.

Sometimes that happens to me with a book. I’ll continue reading one I don’t particularly love because I either a) find enough enjoyable about it that I want to finish it, b) am hoping it gets better, or c) am hoping that even though I figured out whodunit by chapter three, the author will prove me wrong and give me a totally different ending I didn’t see coming (and man, when that happens, I love it!)

But there are other times when I pick up a book and toss it aside after a chapter or two. Often it’s a book that has gotten rave reviews. Sometimes it’s even a book by an author I’ve read and enjoyed previously. When this happens, one of two reactions occur. I either a) wonder if there’s something wrong with me that I don’t get what everyone else sees in the book, or b) scratch my head, wondering why everyone else can’t see the flaws in plot and character that jump off the page at me.

Then there are times where I fall in love with a book and recommend it to friends, only to have them question my taste. Or worse yet, my sanity.

For many people peanut butter is the perfect food. For me it sets off my gag reflexes. I’m more a Cherry Garcia kind of girl. Taste. It’s one of the unsolved mysteries of the universe. Why do you suppose that is?


Christie Craig said...


In a nut shell, I think this is why writing is so hard. Everyone's taste is so different. Recently, I was judging a contest, and the coordinators were desperate for paranormal judges. I write some paranormal elements in my books, but I knew there were a lot of elements in the paranormal categories that I didn’t care about. One of them was futuristic/fantasy. I agreed to judge in hopes I wouldn’t get any of those types. Well, I got one. Determined to be fair, I cleared my mind and gave it my best shot.

Amazingly, I totally fell in love with the story. Later, when I tried to think about how the author did it, I found my answer. Character. The author was so good at characterization that I cared about the protagonist no matter what world or time period she was in.

So when I write my novels, I try really hard to make my protagonists loveable. I’m hoping when someone picks up my book, even if they aren’t the biggest fan of romantic comedies/romantic suspenses, they will fall so deeply in love with my characters that they will go along for the ride and never regret the journey.

And by the way, I don’t think you’re crazy, but I do love peanut butter.


Sierra Donovan said...

Christie, I think you've hit it. Give people a sympathetic character -- or even a fascinating villain -- and they'll follow him/her anywhere. It's why, for example, people who don't care a thing about boxing loved Rocky Balboa.

Doesn't explain why nearly everyone loves peanut butter, though. Lois, maybe you're the exception that proves the rule!


Lois Winston said...

LOL! I have come across a few other like-minded souls who can't stand peanut butter, but we're definitely a minority. Even the smell of it gets to me. I used to hold my breath when I made PB&J sandwiches for my kids, and I won't kiss my husband after he eats some (and BTW, both my kids and husband LOVE the stuff!)

Years and years ago when I was at Girl Scout camp, we had a picnic on the lake. The mess hall prepared bagged dinners for us. We rowed out to the middle of the lake, tied our boats together, and dined. Everyone except me, that is. They'd packed us PB&J sandwiches! To add insult to injury, they'd baked cherry pies for dinner that night, and I love cherry pie. I went to bed hungry that night, but I wasn't the only one who didn't get a slice of pie. The kitchen staff had put the pies out on the picnic tables to cool. When they went out to get them later, they discovered they were crawling with ants!

Gail Dayton said...

I grew up thinking men didn't like chocolate. My dad doesn't like it at all, and my brother likes it okay, but he prefers other flavors. Then I married a man who doesn't really like chocolate either--though his brothers love it. And I think there may be scientific studies that show that in general, men don't have the same reaction to chocolate that women do.

That said, I think there's more to it than just character, even though character is The Most important thing. I tend to prefer faster paced books with active plots. I can get involved in the leisurely, sprawling stories, but that doesn't happen as often. And I don't like my romantic suspense to be TOO scary.

Character does make a big difference, but if I'm getting bored with all the leisurely meandering, character isn't going to keep me reading... Or maybe it will keep me reading, but I'll start skipping pages... I'm not that tough to please, tho. Honest. :)

Nancy Morse said...

There's just no accounting for taste - in food, in reading materials or in lovers. What attracts one person to another? What makes one person love peanut butter and another person gag over it? Ah, sweet mysteries of life. As far as I'm concerned, they can remain mysteries. If my husband and I had the same taste in everything, then one of us would be irrelevant.

Kalen Hughes said...

There's just no accounting for taste - in food, in reading materials or in lovers.

Ain't that the truth. LOL!

gailbarrett said...

This is all so true. I recently read a book that had a hero I couldn't stand. I mean, I really despised him, absolutely hated him. I gave the book to a friend -- without telling what I thought -- and had her read it. She loved it! I was amazed that our reactions were so completely different.