Today I was having coffee with one of my favorite publishing pals, and we were discussing a Fall 2009 book that's receiving a lot of advance ballyhoo. "But, ugh, I just didn't like it," said my pal. "I know other people did. Maybe it's a case of 'It's not you, it's me,' you know?"

 

I do know. This is why book reviews are such perilous territory! Art of all kinds is viewed partly in context, partly by a set of classic principles, and partly by the individual viewer's/reader's perspective. Any number of people can tell you that a book is a must-read, but if you pick it up and hate it, it doesn't matter: You won't read through until the end.

 

With books, unlike a painting you see once or a performance that can't be repeated, we do have a choice, however. If you know that you've picked up a particular novel while you're in a sour mood, you can try it again at a different time.

 

So today, I'd like to ask you all to share books that you once loathed -- and then gave a second try. Did you find Dickens a drag, then decades later discover that his prose was your favorite thing? I'll confess that I hated Jane Austen for years, and then during a very sad time turned to her books and devoured them (don't flame me, Janeites! I believe NOW!).

 

What book or books did you once turn down cold -- only to read them later and adore them?  

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by Moderator Melissa_W on ‎07-27-2009 05:22 PM

I had to let Emma grow on me, too (but I loved Pride and Prejudice straight off).

 

Catch-22 was one book that I was really blah on at first (school, ya know) but I really liked a few years later.

 

I'm trying really, REALLY hard to re-like The Grapes of Wrath; Connie's got that going right now in the Classics group but I haven't had that much time to sit down and really get into the book (I had a HS American Lit teacher absolutely ruin that book for me with quizzes over the symbolism in EACH CHAPTER *puke*; he should really have a mug shot available with the warning "Do not allow this person to teach literature" to prevent future problems).  I did find myself liking the first few chapters that I did read.

 

Proust and I are having a difference of opinion; it truly is a case of "it's not you, it's me" because I can't scrape together a good chunk of reading time to really make the most of the writing.  Swann's Way is not well-suited to reading in 10 minute chunks.

by on ‎07-27-2009 06:34 PM

I have books that go the other way (loved then couldn't get through again)

 

Little Women was a book I devoured in HS then in college I tried to read it and couldn't get past the first 30 pages.  I think it was because I was going through a Ayn Rand phase at the time.  I haven't tried to read it since but I may give it a try.

by on ‎07-28-2009 04:58 AM

How about books that you remember fondly, but upon rereading you realize your taste has either changed or improved dramatically?

 

I'd add On the Road to the that category. Sadly for me, Jack hasn't improved with age.

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎07-28-2009 02:06 PM

Paul - That's what happened when I went back to revisit the Nancy Drew books I devoured as a kid. I loved them then, but couldn't stomach them now. 

 

I went on a Salinger binge a few years ago, but still can't get that excited about him. I still love Vonnegut, but not Slaughterhouse-5. Sirens of Titan still rocks.

 

I still like Mary Stewart's books, but Kathleen Woodiwiss isn't as addictive as she was when I was in my twenties. Likewise Janet Dailey -- the romance genre has just moved on.

 

With mystery, time hasn't affected my taste much. I still love Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and all the mystery authors I loved back in the day, I've just added to my list of favorites substantially.

 

Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test doesn't thrill me the way it did the first time I read it, but I still love Garson Kanin's A Thousand Summers and Babs H. Deal's The Walls Came Tumbling Down, which I read about the same time. (And no one seems to have heard of Deal anymore, sadly -- she's a wonderful author.) 

by Bethanne on ‎07-29-2009 10:45 AM
PaulH, that's another blog entry entirely! :smileywink: But a great question. 
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