Misadventures in Bookland

Make a mistake once, call it an experience. Make a mistake twice, write a blog post about it. So, here I am to tell you that sometimes I read the wrong book. I know, it’s like saying you went to the cafe for a sandwich and accidentally ate a cupcake for lunch. Well, not quite since reading is a much bigger time investment than eating lunch. But in my opinion reading is like travel, seldom is time spent doing it regrettable. And I’m not here to tell you I regret reading the wrong book, I’m here to explain how it happened and why it felt like taking the wrong but scenic road on a long drive.

The first book I ever mistakenly read was an audiobook I read in 2009 which I thought was a murder mystery set in the American Civil War era. A character passed way, but no mystery to pursue. I read half the book still waiting for a murder. As it turned out, the book is not a murder mystery. It was interesting though because it was about the use of quilts in the Underground Railroad. It had some cheesy undertones. But it takes A LOT for me to not finish reading a book. So, I listened to the entire book and I must admit I enjoyed it once I accepted there was no murder mystery. Oh, and in case you’re interested, that book was The Sugar Camp Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel by Jennifer Chiaverini (available from Amzon.com and Amazon.co.uk).

The second case of mistaken book-identity happened this past week. A friend (actually, several friends) recommended the book Outlander as a good read, explaining it was recently adapted for television. The basics from my friend Arlene were that a 1940s nurse who was married flees while being chased and runs into a formation of stones (like an ancient circle or something) and is transported back in time. So, I had the title and a basic summary. I didn’t bother with a search to find the author. How many books with that title could there be? I searched my library’s ebook holdings and found a book called Outlander by Gil Adamson (available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk). The library catalogue didn’t have a summary. Again, I didn’t think it was a common book title. Foreshadowing, isn’t it? I borrowed the ebook, amazed that such a highly recommended book had no wait list. As I read the book, I looked for clues that this was the correct Outlander. The main character was a woman, running from men (her brothers-in-law) with guns. Guns existed in the 1940s and she was married according to Arlene, so I thought I was on the right track. I read another 100 pages before doubts rose in my gut. Wasn’t she supposed to travel back in time? When will I see a sign she is a nurse? Why have they not mentioned World War II if this is set in the 1940s? Another 100 pages and it seems she’s in Canada and still no time travel. She stole some valuables and I just kept thinking, “What good will that do when you travel back in time?” Since it is an ebook, I searched for “stone” to look for the time portal. A few results! I didn’t want a spoiler so I trust I’m on the right track. Since Arlene mentioned it is a book series, maybe the first book is heavily based on everything leading up to the time leap to show why this is such a beneficial mistake? I keep reading. Around page 500, I consider this the longest lead-in ever. The book was 700 pages in the digital format I was using with no hint of time travel. But I read it because even though it wasn’t what I expected, it takes a lot for me to not finish a book. And it was interesting to see the character development of someone who lived outside society.

Now, I will read Outlander I was seeking initially, which is so well-known it has its own Wikipedia page. This time, I know I have the right book in my sights. Now, I must decide whether to go with the public library (I’m fourth in the queue to borrow their copy), Amazon.com, or Amazon.co.uk (where it is available under two different titles, but the same content: Cross Stitch and Outlander).

Have you ever read the wrong book by mistake? What did you think of the unintended read? Have you read either Outlander? Is it worth all this effort?

So, to summarize, if you want to read the Outlander from the TV show, don’t read:


Read one of these:


One comment

  1. Kim C. says:

    There are 8 books in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Cross Stitch is the UK title for Outlander. They are also available as audiobooks, read by Davina Porter.

    Happy reading!

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