When a book, play or movie receives near-universal acclaim, it’s almost mandatory to approach that work with a chip on one’s shoulder, or maybe even a plank. Here are some possible responses to such a work:
“I’ll read it/go see it once the hype dies down.”
“I could tell from the reviews that I would hate it.”
“I saw the author on Charlie Rose and he was such a dick.”
“I’ve read so much about it that I feel like I’ve already seen/read it.”
“Do I have to?”
But sometimes the work lives up to the acclaim, and you just have to get over yourself. Te-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me has been greeted with rapturous reviews, magazine covers and endless op-ed pieces, and it deserves every bit of this attention. It’s an extraordinary book. It’s written as a letter to the author’s son, and it’s about being black, being white, the American Dream and a million other things. It’s not a chore or a diatribe; it’s so well-written, and so essential, that it can be devoured in an afternoon.