To the Book Snobs, This One is For You: The Danielle Steel Edition

The public likes rooting for the underdog. We can (as the 99 percent) identify with the underdog because, like us, they weren’t given jet-setting trips to Rome or a free ride to college; like us, they had to work for everything they have. That’s probably why books like Harry Potter are so monumental: we can identify with Harry because he has to work on himself every day to be a better wizard. Yeah, magic isn’t real, but the human condition is.

I hate to admit it, but it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who has everything when they’ve hit a rough patch, especially in books. I think I may have been one of only a few people who didn’t like Melissa Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” because it felt like she was having a pity party. I couldn’t get past the first 50 pages, and I tried reading the book several times. But who am I to judge her on her journey? Why did I care that she was name dropping? If that’s what she needs to do for herself, so be it; but still, I cared. Here it is: we’re all still flawed human beings, in some cases extremely flawed. It’s our experiences that are supposed to help us make informed decisions, but if we haven’t had to handle a particular situation before, making the “right” decision doesn’t just jump out at us, and that’s something we (okay, I) have to remember. So instead of giving up on a book because I disagree with how the story is being told (again, who am I to be so critical?) I need to just sit down and read it because either way, it’s teaching me lessons about human interaction.

Set the Book Down, and Take a Breath

People up against a hardship is a popular storytelling device. We see it in film, read it in books and learn about it in history (remember, only the dates are facts, question everything). When a character faces a problem (or runs from it) we make a judgment. We either stand behind their decision, or we don’t. How many times have you stopped reading a book because the main character was immediately made unlikeable by a split-second decision he made? How many authors have you stopped reading because the characters they wrote read pathetically? Don’t worry, it’s okay to admit you’re a book snob, a lot of us are. It’s in books where we can more freely judge people (because they’re fictional) without feeling like we’re being unfair or callous to their circumstances. There are still some writers though who can write a character that maybe in real life we wouldn’t like, but on paper, well on paper they read just fine.

Give Danielle a Chance!

Danielle Steel is very talented at creating characters that on the surface aren’t always all that likeable. They have everything at their disposal, and yet they still seem to have issues in their everyday interactions; but so do most of us, right? Danielle Steel books remind me to be more compassionate. Just because someone looks like they have their life together on the outside doesn’t mean everything isn’t coming crashing down on the inside.

It’s human nature to put up a front to the outside world, and Danielle Steel illustrates this in her novels. Her lead characters are beautiful, yet flawed. She describes them as handsome or stunning or charming, but they all have a deep-hidden issue that makes them irrevocably human. We can identify with such characters because they are experiencing heartache, financial turmoil and family strife. They have to deal with grief and learn to walk away from toxicity, and sometimes (like us) they have to put themselves first.

Danielle Steel reminds us how to do this without sacrificing ourselves. Through her novels, Danielle Steel teaches us how to be more aware and empathetic, even of people we wouldn’t have looked twice at before.

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