Water for Elephants – Why I Was Surprised That I Liked It.

Hey ~ V here.  I wanted to write a short review of a book I read, recently, on Casey Wyatt’s recommendation: Water for Elephants.  I was leery of reading this book because it seemed to me (from the cover and title only – I hadn’t bothered to do so much as read the jacket before my opinion was set!) that it was a bit of literary fiction or a drama kind of thing.  Maybe even an Oprah book.  It’s been my experience that Oprah and I don’t like the same kind of book.  At all.  In fact, if Oprah recommends a book, I stay far away.  I find those kinds of books too heavy, too full of reality.  That’s not how I want to spend my precious reading time.  I live reality, I don’t want to read about it.

Generally speaking, I read historical romance, historical non-fiction (I like history) ‘tween adventures, beginning readers and picture books (I have kids), magazines {Time and National Geographic – but I only read it for the pictures 😉 }, a few mysteries, some erotica and the competition (meaning whatever I’m planning to write, I read stuff like it). 

But since I was on vacation with nothing to read (see last week’s post to find out why) and  Water for Elephants happened to be on the bookshelf in the cottage we’d rented, I thought I’d give it a try.  It was enchanting!

It’s a romance of a sort and much of the story is told by the hero as he’s withering away in a rest home at age 90.  Or 93, he’s not sure.  He’s remembering the very beginning of his adulthood.  There is a lot of fun circus stuff and depression-era history stuff built into the story.  It’s very visual and at the same time very sweet.  I can see why they made it a movie (which I am now more likely to see!)  But all in all, it was a lovely book.  If you haven’t read it yet, give it a try.

Today’s secret: we should all re-learn that adage about not judging books by their cover.

Today’s question: what book have you read lately that surprised you?



13 thoughts on “Water for Elephants – Why I Was Surprised That I Liked It.”

  1. I was also hesitant to read Water for Elephants because I feared reading about animal abuse (since the circus, especially back then, was not known for kind treatment of animals). But I was also drawn to the book because I knew someone who grew up with the traveling circus and the book made me think of him. Like the hero, he was in his golden years when I met him and I am sure he would have been able to relate to the book.

    I’m not sure I’ve read any books that surprised me recently but I did enjoy The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Another book, V, that you may have chalked up to the Oprah club, but it’s worth the read. It’s the story of two children (one Chinese, one Japanese) who become friends right before the Japanese internment in WW II. The story flashes back and forth between – Henry’s childhood and his senior years, when a local hotel uncovers a basement full of family belongings left behind when all the Japanese were forced to leave the area.

    1. See again, I’m hesitating cause that doesn’t sound like my cup of tea…but maybe I’ll pick it up at the library and give it a try. I’m working on overcoming my immediate reactions. I just finished The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood and Martyr by Rory Clements – both very good.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation, V. I saw the movie and loved the setting, time period, circus stuff, but the animal cruelty and the romance didn’t do it for me. Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon–not great chemistry in my opinion. Isn’t it amazing though how different the book is from the movie? I loved the book!
    I just read “Drinking Closer to Home” by Jessica Anya Blau. I thought the reality would be hard for me to read as well–especially because the subject matter was so close to the real thing for me, but I loved it. It was hilarious, thought provoking and I loved the characters voices. Great read!

    1. I haven’t been interested in seeing Water for Elephants the movie, even though I like Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon individually. I’ll check out your book recommendation…Thanks!

  3. I loved Water for Elephants! I read it a long time ago, thinking the same things you did, but was so happy I opened it up and read page one.

    Haven’t seen the movie. But I don’t get to the movies much. And if I do, it’s to bring the kids to see something at their level. Will probably see it on rental.

    But anyway, I learned so much about the depression era and the importance of the circus bringing some joy to the people of these depressed towns. Then of course the competition between the circus’ just floored me. Like vultures going in for the leftovers.

  4. Never under estimate the power of word of mouth. Best advertising around.
    I started reading three books this week that perfectly fit my usual reading but I’ve tossed each aside. I’m not saying they’re “bad” books, they just don’t interest me at the moment. I know I’ll come back to them and most likely enjoy them. It’s like I get saturated in a certain genre and need a change. So maybe Water for Elephants is what I need. Thanks for the info.

    1. That happens to me too, sometimes. I’m reading a neat book now, called…well, I can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s a follow up to Martyr, a thriller where the investigator is John Shakespeare, Will’s older brother. It’s a Tudor intrigue. I finished Martyr last night and I’m onto the sequel. Interesting series.

  5. I loved the book too but haven’t seen the movie. I wondered about this one initially as well but was very pleasantly surprised. In terms of your question, I think I was surprised that The Help would be as good as it was but what a good read. Oh and I enjoyed your blog post too! But this was not surprising as all of you “Scribes” are great. 🙂

    1. Thanks! I liked The Help too, and that’s one where I do want to see the movie. Might still have a chance to catch it in theaters since it did well again last week. But there are so many good movies coming out this fall, gotta catch them quick or they’re gone.

  6. I haven’t read Water for Elephants yet, but it’s on my TBR list. Hmmmm, a book that surprised me recently . . . I guess I’d have to say The Hunger Games trilogy. Honestly I didn’t think I’d like these books at all, and it turns out I loved them!

  7. A girl I work with was reading it and loved it. Loved it so much she had to tell me what she read the next morning when she saw me. I feel like I don’t need to read the book now.

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