Have you had this experience? All your friends tell you that you must watch this movie, this TV show. It’s hilarious, it’s so romantic, it’s so gripping. It’s a must. Yet if too many people recommend a movie or a show – or a book – too warmly, there is a point at which I turn utterly reluctant to tackle it. This is the reason why I missed Mamma Mia this summer, and why I never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The friend who recommended the latter sang its praises for what felt three hours, and that did it for me.

I came very late to Mary Balogh for that reason – on all internet forums, people just rave about her, and so I hesitated for several years before buying any of her books – An Unacceptable Offer was my first by her. Equally, it took me a long time to order books by Julia Quinn and Eloisa James. In each case, it was only after about the third or fourth extremely favorable review here at AAR that I took the jump. All three writers have been favorites of mine since then.

My strange reluctance to read books that are praised to the skies everywhere extends to my TBR shelves. There are three Laura Kinsales there, and three Laura Londons. I also have Julia Ross’s The Seduction, Connie Brockway’s As You Desire, and Judith Ivory’s The Proposition. Each book awaits my attention, and when I pick out a new read, I glance at their spines, yet I draw out a book by another, very probably less generally admired, author.

I cannot explain why I’m not grabbing one of these wonders right this moment as I write this. I could be lying down on the sofa and beginning to enjoy. Maybe I’m afraid that I might be disappointed after all the good things I have heard. Maybe I feel I must wait for a good moment to begin such a promising read. Maybe I am waiting of the books to jump at me, taking me by surprise and insisting to be read. Maybe, just maybe, I might get over my apprehension and find myself reading one of them this winter.

Do you feel books can be over-recommended? Are there books that everyone loves so much that you have been reluctant to read them for fear they won’t live up to the praise? Are there ‘classics’ that you have missed out so far because of this reason?

-Rike Horstmann