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.
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.
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.
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?
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Books by Rainbow Rowell:
Mentioned above. Great writing, yet too real for me.
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.