Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Books I Didn't Like

As I was glancing over my reviews, I find that, for the most part, I enjoy most of what I read.  I just started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (really, with a title like that, aren't you a little interested???) and so far I'm on the fence with it.  I'll let you know. 

But, just in case you think that I'm the person who just likes everything I've ever read, I thought I'd provide some of the books I've read that I just did not like.

First - books I did not like at all until I had to read them again.

1. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne

I'm of the firm opinion this book should only be taught in high school by a teacher who can point out all the hypocrisy and imagery and demonstrate the amazing qualities of Hester Prynne.  Most just try to fly through it as fast as possible to end the misery, but this really is a beautiful book (Go ahead, if you hated it in high school, really, try it again)

2. Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka

When I was first taught this, the introductory activity was to take construction paper and create what we think we would look like if we were a bug. Now here's a story about a man who turned into a bug.  The End.  This really is a great story, but it needs more guidance or a more mature reader to figure it all out.

3. Hamlet - William Shakespeare

First time - so there's this ghost who is really the prince's dead dad and he is telling the son to figure out why his brother is wooing the mom.  Oh yea, and the prince's girlfriend?  She's nuts.
I really think high schoolers can "get" this play, but again, they need guidance and time to have things pointed out that are the true essence of this masterpiece.

Books I'm not convinced I would read again if you paid me....

1.  Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

Yup, I'm going to take some crap for this one because there are several different people who read this blog who I know love this and have worn several copies out.  I've started the first one four different times, psyching myself up and getting all excited about reading the epic fantasy.  The last time I made it to page 100.  That was 100 pages of torture.  I felt the same way about the seventeen million hours of the movie too.  

2. The Good Earth - Pearl Buck

I sometimes wonder if this is a book that, if I went back and re-read it, it could be bumped up to the other list.   I just haven't got there yet.  I remember enjoying parts of this book, but was really put off by the stupid mistress with tiny feet who sat around and got fat while the wife worked her stinking tail off.   Maybe an appreciation of the culture and overall maturity will change that.

3. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

Just kill me now.  End the misery.  I had several different professors when I was getting my degree tell me that they thought this was a classic because a bunch of brainiacs were sitting around one day and decided we needed classics.  I think Ray Bradbury is the only author I have heard of who really enjoyed this book - for everyone else it is required suffering.

4.  A Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I HATED this book.  I get that there are some elements of the fantastic in it, but when a grandpa dies but then comes back and somewhere there is an angel that people beat up and the dead come back grandpa impregnates his granddaughter to keep the purity of the genetic line and her husband knows, but doesn't care....yuck, yuck, yuck.  Incest, crazy jumps in plot, things that just don't make sense.  I would have to have an offer of at least seven figures to think about reading this again.  

Your turn - go ahead.  Sure, some may judge you or argue you didn't really read the book, but we all know everyone doesn't like everything.  Let me know what books you just didn't like or discovered you did after time and a re-reading. :)


Charlotte said...

I'm with you on the Lord of the Rings.

It's so nice not to be alone!

As to a book that I didn't appreciate the first time, but did an about-face the second time . . . (perhaps I shouldn't admit it)--Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmadge.

Ti-Cup said...

I loved this post! I'm with you on Tolkein (ugh) and 100 years (ugh ugh ugh). I haven't actually made it to The Good Earth yet, but the thought of having to read any of the whaling chapters of Moby Dick ever again makes me want to throw up.

Can't wait to see you on Saturday!

Daniel B. said...

Can't agree with you on LOTR. I read it at 9, and i liked it as much then as I did at 14, 17, and 23...yes, I'm a geek.

I love Hamlet, and I could read it and watch it over and over. Every time, and every time i watch a different rendition, I get something more. Sometimes I like to just watch parts of Branaughs rendition, just to listen to the words.

Metamorphosis...what a dumb book. It may be symbolic, but I think really Kafka was just making it up as he goes. I think think maturity will not help the reader enjoy it more. In fact, it might hurt. I think really it is as bad as it looks.

Moby is a better musician than a whale, and I still can't get past a chapter or two. I feel like my eyes start to bleed every time i try delving into Ishmael and his self-destructive quest for that white whale.

And last: you actually finished Marquez's weird little history "A hundred years of solitude?" I think i picked it up because it was recommended or a pulitzer, or something, and i couldn't have disagreed with it more. What a waste of paper.

One more to add to your list that i thought, if not dumb, was at least over rated? The Road. OV-ER-RA-TED.