Today Will be Different

“Smell the soup, cool the soup,” Timby said. “Huh?” “It’s what they teach us in school when we’re upset. Smell the soup.” He took a deep breath in. “Cool the soup.” He blew out.” (Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple)

Though I’ve vowed to never again finish a book I dislike, sometimes it’s more work to stop reading a bad book than to keep up the momentum and get to the end. If you stop, you’ll have to go through all the bother of choosing a new book, searching through your many library systems to see how and when you can get it for free, and potentially even making a trip somewhere (which, with a newborn, is easier said than done). Then, you risk again choosing incorrectly and ending up with a second, third, or even a rut of bad books. And, let’s face it, you’re already filled with motivation-sucking bad-book-blues, so it’s probably easier to just stay seated on the couch and try to eke what little enjoyment you can from your current choice.

That’s right, I’ve said it – and judging by the litany of complementary reviews, I might be the only one – Semple’s new book is bad. If you want to get a bit more creative with your adjectives, you could also go with unremarkable, over-plotted, scattered, too-tidy, absurd, hasty, or nonsensical. Additionally, it bears a startling surface resemblance to Where’d you go Bernadette: both novels feature a crumbling marriage where one partner is temporarily missing; both marriages have one child; both female protagonists have old-timey names; both are set in Seattle, etc, etc. The reader can’t help but wish that Semple’s new book resembled her old one for the sake of its inner qualities – its humor and unique characters – rather than its superficial ones.

Fortunately, with its large typeface, thick pages, and thin spine, you only have to sit with it for a few hours until it’s over.

Recommended Action: BuyBorrow Now – Borrow Sometime Avoid
Length: 272 pages
Ending: not an ending
Incidental Learning: Seattle
Further Reading: If you haven’t, read Where’d you go Bernadette immediately.

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