Why I Don’t LOVE Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell has been super popular recently. Her books are relatable, occasionally funny, very emotional, and well written, but that’s my problem with them. :) To give a bit of backstory, I should probably explain how I read.

How I Read

I mostly read on Friday nights and Saturdays, since the rest of the week I am able to use technology and really need to pack in all my work. Why? Because I am Jewish and observe Shabbat (sabbath). If you’re not interested in this or feel it is forcing religion on you feel free to skip down to the Why I Don’t LOVE Rainbow Rowell section!

On Shabbat, I am not allowed to do any “work.” What does work mean? I won’t go into all the details because there are so many I actually don’t know all of them. The basic rule is that you are prohibited from creating and/or doing what the priests did in the temple way back when we had one (and then another) in Jerusalem.

I cannot use electricity because it creates a spark! What I can do is leave lights on in certain places, set timers in others, and leave the oven on so I can warm food up a bit, but not cook it because that’s creating.

two candles jonas nordlund

So on Friday I make sure I stock up on reading materials and then later really go to town. Because I don’t have any distractions, my mind is ridiculously active. I’m not inventing genius apps or solving world hunger, but I cannot stop thinking.

If I’m upset about something, on Shabbat I cannot distract myself from it. So reading anything that is a bit too real is really unpleasant.

Another difficulty? You’re not allowed to cry on Shabbat. It’s supposed to be a happy restful break from work and worries. When I was younger I thought that was silly because how could you not be happy on a day off? I realized now that it’s actually hard because of how free you are from so many distractions.

I am grateful for it though. I am certainly a workaholic and a mandatory break is very helpful for me.

Why I Don’t LOVE Rainbow Rowell

Lydia recently wrote about how reading can be helpful when you suffer from depression, even if the books are dark or intense. I don’t suffer from depression, at least, my therapist never indicated it, yet I find the opposite true for me. I need to read light and simple stories on Shabbat when there’s a chance I may feel sad.

self help books how I read

I read a lot of business and self-help books. When I get into them I start thinking about work/common room and my behavior. Did I do that? Do I do that? Should I do that? How do I implement that? It’s exhausting because I can’t release the thoughts anywhere (writing is also not allowed). So the thoughts and ideas brew and I’m not really resting, I’m stuffing my brain.

Rainbow Rowell’s books, especially Attachments, activate my brain and emotions too. In Attachments, almost everyone is a bit sad about their life. Our main male character feels like he’s in a limbo situation at an age he feels he should have things figured out. Oh boy, can I relate. I sometimes feel really pathetic, and so that book did not help make me feel any better. Yes, there’s a happier ending, but it’s real and grounded not approaching fairy tale status.

how I read

So to be honest, Rainbow Rowell is a fantastic writer, but her truth is not something I can swallow all the time. I read all of her books besides Carry On, but I’m assuming her style stays the same there. Her books are not escapism or neatly encouraging as they end. And that’s why I don’t LOVE Rainbow Rowell.

How Do You Feel About
Rainbow Rowell’s Books?

As you’ve noticed, on Common Room we don’t have traditional ads. The only way we are financially supported are from my bank account, affiliate links, and our Redbubble store! So here are some more, just in case you were feeling generous.

Books by Rainbow Rowell:

attachment rainbow rowellrainbow rowell carry oneleanor and park rainbow rowellFangirl rainbow rowelllandline rainbow rowell

Mentioned above. Great writing, yet too real for me.

Carry On
Have not read. It is the novel version of Cath’s fan fiction mentioned in Fangirl.

Eleanor & Park
Two teens fall in love despite one’s really tough family life. Well written and pretty sad.

The first one I read from RR. A great coming of age story. Wonderful.

Time travel, entertainment writers, marriage. It’s almost retro and I love it.

Candle Image Source


  • I LOVED Fangirl but here’s something interesting, I wasn’t really into the wizard school side of Cath’s fan fiction. I’m still a Harry Potter n00b, so maybe that’s why. I DID appreciate the passion Cath had for writing and creating characters. It was the first Rainbow Rowell book I read too.

    Eleanor & Park was sad but I enjoyed it and could really visualise it being set in a council estate somewhere in London. I think it would make a good film.

    Landline was a bit of a snooze fest for me compared with the other two I read. The time travel was great but I just found it a bit slow.
    Can’t wait to read the rest of her books. I only read a little each night, so it takes me ages to get through a book.

    Thanks for sharing about Shabbat, it’s interesting to hear about different religions. I’ve learned something new. The idea of switching off a little on the weekend is something maybe we should all do now and then.

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    • I totally get that Vikki! I am a Harry Potter fanatic, but I also wasn’t super drawn to the fanfic book. Maybe one day I’ll pick up Carry On and be very pleasantly surprised, but no big desire now.

      Ooh interesting idea about Eleanor and Park. I feel like a lot of teen shows are based around those areas (Skins, Misfits, Casual Vacancy- okay two shows and a mini series).

      Switching off work is so necessary for me, but hard for my brain to adjust to ha. I read on shabbat almost exclusively so I finish a lot. Must be the years of practice! There’s only so much resting you can do. :P

  • I didn’t mind Fangirl, there were parts of it that I liked and parts I didn’t. I haven’t read any other Rainbow Rowell though so I can’t really comment on her other books. That’s interesting about how Shabbat affects how/what you read, thanks for sharing :)

    • Thanks for the comment Emma. What are you reading right now? Any recs? (Going to stalk Novelsee soon :P)

      • I’m reading The Farseer Trilogy at the moment, just finished the second book and I’m now onto Assassin’s Quest. I love it, it’s great if you’re into fantasy :) (and thanks haha)

      • I’m reading The Farseer Trilogy at the moment, just finished the second book and I’m now onto Assassin’s Quest. I love it, it’s great if you’re into fantasy :) (and thanks haha)

  • I have Fangirl to read but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    • Have you read any of her other books? Fangirl is a fun one!

  • I used to really enjoy Rainbow Rowell’s books when I was a little younger, and re-reading them now, I can’t stand them? Same for John Green… There’s something about their stories that just makes me mad and I can never quite explain why!

    • Wow mad? I get why you would be mad about JG’s books because while I like that his teens are smart, sometimes they are too smart. But RR’s just make me super sad hahaha.

      • I don’t know, I think for the most part those teens are idealized, if that makes sense. Or maybe it’s because I’m not American, it always somehow seems fake to me.