We’ve all heard the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, another should be “Don’t judge a book by its title.” Unfortunately, I’m guilty of the latter. Fortunately, however, I’ve realized my mistake.
Monday, I fell in love with an elephant. And an orangutan for that matter. Granted they are fictional, but nevertheless I absolutely fell in love with them. But that would’ve been impossible to do if I hadn’t gotten over my initial, negative impression of the title: Water for Elephants.
Seriously, who wants to read about elephants and their water? I also didn’t find a romance between the protagonist and a married circus performer during the Depression era to be a very compelling reason to pick up the book either.
Another strike against the book was that Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame was playing the lead in the movie version. A horrible reason, I know, not to read a book but nevertheless true.
However, it was listed on the Amazon Kindle best sellers list and was only $5. So, I downloaded a sample and liked the writing and story well enough.
But to be honest, the reviews within the book convinced me to buy it. One in particular ultimately got me to press the “buy now” button. It was Rona Brinlee of NPR’s Morning Edition. She claimed that this book had “one of the happiest endings you will ever read.”
How could you go wrong with an endorsement such as that? I love books with happy endings. Not to say there isn’t something to be said for sadness because without sadness there couldn’t be happiness. But sometimes you just want to read a happy story. Granted, I’m also the type of person who will flick to the back of the book to see who will die so as not to get too attached to a character (which is why I’ve stopped reading Nicholas Sparks—somebody always dies). Of course with some books that’s just unavoidable. That’s when I choose to rewrite the books in my head. Take Little Women, for example. Um yeah Beth doesn’t die, and Jo totally ends up marrying Laurie. Sorry Louis May Alcott—they were meant to be together.
But Water for Elephants left me smiling after I finished it. And it did so for five specific reasons: the circus; animals; the Polish language; unlikely friendships; and the Happiest Ending Ever.
It’s an enjoyable read from start to finish.
Is it one of the best literary works I’ve ever read? No. But a book doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece to love it. Was it a little soap operaish at times? Well, yes. Yet, I found that just added to my enjoyment.
So, if you’re one of those who haven’t read the book yet and you’re looking for a great, quick paced read for this upcoming summer, I suggest you try Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen—even if the title doesn’t spark your interest. It didn’t make me want to read it, but by the end of the book I had fallen in love with the elephant, the title was actually quite fitting, and the ending was one of the happiest I have ever read.