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?