Books, movies, games, Oscars, Tonys, Broadway...seems to me we need a solid knowledge of books to truly enjoy all the facets of modern media, because so many other forms of media spring from books--great books (Anna Karenina), popular books (Life of Pi), and infamous books (Fifty Shades of Grey).

My problem? I just don't really like any of those books! There are books for all tastes, of course, but not all books are for all tastes. What's the "best" book you can't stand?


Okay, so I don't really hate Tolstoy. But there's something both endearing and insufferable about most of his characters. Try as I might, I have not finished either War and Peace or Anna Karenina, although other long 19th century classics like Stendhal's

The Red and the Black  , most of Balzac's multivolume The Human Comedy, and the near-complete Works of Charles Dickens have never daunted me.


Similarly, modern allegorical tales of the human search for meaning leave me high and dry, notwithstanding the immense, and to me inexplicable, popularity of Life of Pi or The Alchemist, both mega best sellers and beloved by millions. Admittedly, I've never made it through many classic allegories, either. Spenser's The Faerie Queene  and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress are best read in college survey-size samples, unless one's got a real taste for that sort of thing. 


However high my tolerance for long-winded fantasy--hey, I devoured every work of Tolkien's I could get my hands on, translating the Elvish runes on the title pages of the The Lord of the Rings by the time I got out of my preteens, diving into all the Dune books of Frank Herbert like a sandworm, and even wading through Stephen A. Donaldson's works, starting with Lord Foul's Bane and ending . . . somewhere . . . those were some long books . . . , I just could not tolerate the fantasy of E.L. James. Nothing against erotica--in my youth I read plenty of Olympia Reader and Erica Jong works--but James's trilogy just left me cold. And laughing, alas. 


Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against the books that don't work for me. But they just don't. I hope they work for you--they certainly do for many others! Curious to know: What are the greats that are notsa great, in your opinion?




by Fricka on ‎02-11-2013 10:39 AM

Good question, Ellen.


Ok, here's a starter list for me.

1. Everything by John Steinbeck, EXCEPT for Travels With Charley. Of course, my hatred of John Steinbeck started in high schook, when we were forced to read "The Red Pony". As a horse lover, I found his descriptions of the dying pony so off-putting that I had it in for him from then on. Nothing I read by him ever changed my mind, except his real-lfe tale of traveling the US with his standard poodle.


2. Almost everything by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I can take some of his short(if you can call them that!) stories, but the novels? I even have tried reading some of them more recently, to see if there's something more to them that I can enjoy. Nope. Hated The Scarlet Letter when I had to read it for a college class, and still don't like it much.


3. I did read some of James Fennimore Cooper's Deerslayer/Longstocking books, and just could not put my finger on what was wrong with them. Then one of my college professors read to us, aloud, Mark Twain's "The Literary Offenses of Fennimore Cooper," and then I knew.




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