Nicholas Sparks is Pretty Much the Worst: My Most Unpopular Opinion as a Woman

I’ve made it no secret that I really just can’t get into reading books. I prefer to stick to my liberal-leaning music and entertainment magazines (to which I really do need to renew my subscription…) and humor books. The last two books I’ve read were Bossypants by Tina Fey (my new favorite) and William Shatner’s autobiography, Up Till Nowwhich I can’t help but read in Shatner’s voice. I also enjoy the classics, and my bookshelves are inhabited by Vonnegut, Orwell, Huxley, Vidal, Albee, and Shakespeare, to name a few. I enjoyed the Harry Potter series immensely, but beyond all of those, I can’t get into those books that young women are “supposed to” like.

As a middle schooler, I wasn’t into those coming-of-age books that were so sacred. Sure, there were the ones we had to read for class, like Island of the Blue DolphinsHatchet, and others — those were ok. Then came high school, and we started reading edgier books. Where a lot of girls went the romance route, I went down the path of the dystopian novel, and I’ve never quite looked back. (I’ve been very “fight the power” from a young age.) However, when I shared with a girl in my class that I had never read or watched A Walk to Remember, I was called un-American. Pardon me? I can see where my choice of literature could have been considered subversive at the age of 15, but by no means does my failure to take in chick lit make me an enemy of the country.

I’ve never, ever understood the appeal of Nicholas Sparks, or any other book or movie basically designed to illicit tears from the consumer. I refuse to willingly expose myself to “entertainment” that makes others cry, whether it’s inspiring or sad. That’s why I hate videos and links that others post on Facebook with comments like “literally just cried reading that” or “what a touching story!” — I avoid those at all costs. Maybe I’m just not a very emotional person, but I think I’m fairly well-adjusted person when it comes to my feelings. I know that many readers will not agree with me when I say that I think Nicholas Sparks books kinda suck. But that’s just my prerogative, and you’re also quite welcome to yours. A source I turn to daily to read well-researched, informative, and hilarious articles probably summed up my feelings about these books best:

Read some of the articles on this site… I would love nothing more than to write for them.

I’d like to think that this man survives off of the tears of groups of lady friends going to the theater to see these movies together, or women of any age reading the books with a bottomless glass of wine. I have seen a couple of the movies, and just didn’t think much of them. However, I have learned a few things from these movies:

  1. You have to hold on to someone’s face if you’re going to kiss them and mean it. (Brian will probably think I’m attacking his head.)
  2. When you cry, still try to look as beautiful as possible. (I know for a fact that I’m an ugly, ugly crier, and no one should have to see that.) 
  3. Someone always dies. (Cliché.) <– I originally had something else as my third point, but I decided it actually was too harsh of a criticism of this genre, and stands to be the only thought I’ve ever omitted on this blog.

Who wants to cry? Am I missing out on some kind of female bonding experience? It’s just not for me. Sorry if I’m offending anyone, but I won’t be upset if you don’t get my particular forms of literature. I’m not the only one who has considered how cheesy these books and movies are: check out Anna Breslaw’s Reality Index Reviews of The Vow and The Lucky One from Glamour. (Anna is probably my new girl-writer crush.) This article on Cracked also outlines another reason why I think these books are straight up crazy: remember when Noah threatened to let go of the Ferris wheel if Allie didn’t agree to go on a date with him, while she was sitting there with her current date? That’s a form of domestic abuse, my friends; in no way is threatening to kill yourself a romantic gesture.

Can I take a minute to suggest a couple of alternatives to these movies?

I’m ok with shedding a tear or two to this movie. If you don’t know, it served as an inspiration for Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle.

Perhaps the most realistic romantic comedy I’ve ever seen, and the only one I’ve been able to get my boyfriend to watch.

A lot of people have probably seen the second one, but the first film is an absolute classic. I don’t judge women who read Sparks novels, but I don’t particularly get it, and subjecting myself to sadness on purpose is just not my thing.


Our Ohio Success Stories, Revisited

Of all the fashion articles, in all the online women’s magazines, in all the Internet, I found another Youngstown blogger who wrote about Nanette Lepore this past fall. While perusing Glamour’s Slaves to Fashion blog last night, I found this article about Youngstown’s favorite fashionista and her “Made in the USA” values. It includes photos from inside her NYC Garment District studio and factory, where all of her pieces are designed and assembled.

I want this dress in my closet, stat.

I wish I knew how to wear these colors! (Photo from Glamour article.)

I posted a comment about how I’m sure Ms. Lepore’s work ethic is a reflection of her Rust Belt roots, and posted a link for Joni’s article featuring the fashion designer. This afternoon when I went to see if anyone had replied to my comment, I found two lovely surprises: 1. Nanette Lepore is bringing her line to JCPenney (although, it’s a junior’s line, which I read as, “Not so much for you, curvy girl” —  however, accessories like bags and necklaces are one size fits all!); and 2. Someone had responded to my comment! Natasha, another Youngstowner, posts about fashion on her blog, Cardigancouture. It turns out, she also wrote a post last fall about this hometown success story. What are the odds? Anyway, I highly suggest you check her out. Her most recent post about brightly colored denim is a a territory I’m not sure I could ever approach, but I love her creative suggestions!

Last fall, I also wrote a post about my personal favorite Ohio success story: a little rock and roll band from Columbus, Ohio, called Red Wanting Blue. Well, the day I’ve been waiting for since the start of last semester is just about here. Tomorrow, they will be performing at the first Penguin Pre-Party at YSU, and I have to try to not turn into a total fan girl.  Yesterday, the band released the first music video to accompany their new album. Their song, “Audition,” is a remade version of the same song which appeared several years ago on one of their early albums. The structure and sound are still generally the same, which just goes to show that this fan favorite is a solid tune. At live performances, they add in a throwback to Lou Reed’s “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” (do, do do, do do, do-do-do…). And speaking of those live performances, tomorrow also kicks off a 3 concerts in 9 days streak for myself, my sister, and her fiance. Though they can’t make it tomorrow night, we’re all going to Cedar’s this Saturday night for their show. I also bought Carmen and Josh tickets to their House of Blues show in Cleveland for next Saturday. Like I said in my original post, not all people can afford to go see their favorite band multiple times a year, and its even more unlikely that their favorite band makes multiple appearances in the same region in a year.

Here’s the video for “Audition,” filmed at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus. They asked for fans to send in the videos they took that night of the performance to be included in the video. I think it turned out pretty well.

Red Wanting Blue – Audition (Official Music Video) from Red Wanting Blue on Vimeo.