Taste in books – Short review of Memories of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon

This Monday, I was travelling back to Bangalore from a week-long vacation at home. I had about half an hour to kill at Kolkata airport before boarding, so I decided to check out the book-store.

I picked up two books: Memories of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon and A Train to Pakistan by Khuswant Singh. I had not bought a book for myself in the longest time – thanks to the online library facility, Kwench, that my company provides. Besides – I had not read something really interesting that would make me want to invest financially and space-wise.Β But this time I wanted a good way to spend the two and a half hours flight (too used to having internet, and flight mode basically sucks), so ended up purchasing these two books.

I can’t remember if I have read other Sheldon books, but needless to say, he’s a popular author. Even if I have not read his works, I remember reading such fast paced, mystery thriller books growing up – I was quite a fan of the genre at the time. I loved Gone Girl when I read it in 2016. However, when I revisited the genre through Memories of Midnight, I can’t say I was quite excited. Some of the key traits that jumped out for me are:

  • The fast pace of the writing, which is characterized by more telling than showing
  • While the character development is not poor, it does not feel like a priority, but more like a secondary requirement
  • The primary focus is on mind-boggling actions, bringing people back from the dead, showing larger-than-life (and in my mind, sometimes quite impossible) victories in business deals or courtrooms
  • Lastly, there are multiple scenes which leave nothing to the imagination on the reader’s part – with too many obvious paragraphs which can easily be dropped to make the narrative stronger

While I have nothing against the writer or people who enjoy such writing (thrill is always exciting), from a writer’s perspective, a lot of the book felt like poor, lazy writing. I realize that over the years my taste has changed towards more muted, and closer-to-life narratives. I am interested in the story of the common man, the trials of regular life that s/he faces. Which is why I avoid most of Bollywood flicks, unless I am really in the mood for some drama.

However, I must credit the writer for his research on how different professions work: from information on oil fields to courtroom dealings to a psychiatrist’s clinic – this book covers a lot of ground.

All that said, I guess each author has a specific audience. In fact, even though the writing was poor, I did end up finishing the book, because I wanted to see it through to the end. Moreover, even though I had another book to choose from in the flight, I started with this one, coz, well, I was looking for a popcorn style book, made for light read! πŸ™‚

How do you feel about these popcorn-style books? Should publishing houses continue to publish such books? Which are your favorite authors in this genre?

6 thoughts on “Taste in books – Short review of Memories of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon

    1. Arpita Post author

      Hey, Swetha! πŸ™‚ I’m sure they are better, but it will probably take me a while to get back to any Sheldon books. By popcorn style, I mean mostly light reads which you probably wouldn’t go back again. I’m guess you’re a fan of the author? πŸ™‚

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      1. Arpita Post author

        I understand – which element of his writing excite you most?

        I am inclined towards more serious reads, as I mentioned in the post, which is why I didn’t quite find this to my taste. I’m so glad you shared your thoughts here, though. I enjoy listening to different opinions on a given topic. πŸ™‚

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      2. Swetha Sadanand

        He explores a wide variety of topics in his books. Like there’s the movie industry in one, hospital in another and aliens in the next. I’m a murder mystery fan so it’s nice to read about the possibility and techniques of crime in different settings. 😁

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