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Booking Through Thursday 8/28/14: Enmity

August 28, 2014

Booking Through Thursday asks

Any books or authors you hate? Why? Is it the writing? The stories? The author’s personality? And—would you read their work anyway?

Good question. I can think of a few. The Magicians by Lev Grossman. I hated it because the main characters were whiny and disaffected, so that I thought they squandered their opportunity to go to a magical school and didn’t deserve access to a fantasy world.

Twilight. I only got through the first book, and that was a struggle. In addition to being poorly written, I think the construction of Bella and Edward’s relationship as a romance is problematic at best, dangerously abusive at worst.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. I read it under duress, at the insistence of a college boyfriend. I disliked the sparse writing style and I think I also hated the main character.

Those are the ones that I can think of where it’s pure hatred. And then, there are a few others, where most of my experience was ire and dislike, but it was tempered by something else.

I remember hating Pride and Prejudice because I remember wanting to reach into its pages and throttle Mrs. Bennett. But, that was tempered somewhat by the fact that Elizabeth and Mr. Bennett likely shared my opinion of her.And I could appreciate how well Austen captured the awfulness of Mrs. Bennett’s  shallowness and social aspirations. So, mixed feelings there.

I remember seething with annoyance at Holden Caulfield’s character when I read The Catcher in the Rye, also in high school. But at the same time, I can look back and appreciate that it was beautifully written. I would read something else by Salinger, with a less irritating narrator. Suggestions?

But I think my all-time favorite love-hate of a book was when I read The DaVinci Code. I knew at the outset that I was probably going to hate it. But I read it because everyone was reading it at the time. And also because I read it in tandem with someone who had completed almost all of the studies necessary to become a Jesuit priest before doing a 180 and pursuing a career in law. We shared the cost of a used copy. I read it first, and wrote critiques in the margins, annoyed at the terrible writing and stupid plot twists. “Author badly wants to be Langdon. And/or Harrison Ford!” I seethed. “Oh, of course there’s a stupid albino villain!” Then I handed it off, and had a great time watching as the normally fairly composed law student fumed and waved his arms, outraged at all the Church history, symbolism, and canon law that had been butchered in service of the plot. I really, really enjoyed the rants. There was scowling and wavy arms!. There was the night where we parted company and he called me to continue his tirade on the drive home because he really hated the book. It might be my very favorite memory of book hatred.

That was fun.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2014 8:10 am

    Given our divergent takes (I’m only happy when it rains), your piece tells me I might like the Grossman. I share your response to Holden Caulfield to this day (recommend FRANNY AND ZOOEY instead) and had the SAME Da Vinci Code story, though I admired the way his fierce plotting kept the pages turning.

    The books I hated that few have mentioned: THE LOVELY BONES, THE SECRET HISTORY. Don’t get me started.

    Thanks for the invitation to play!

  2. August 29, 2014 1:29 pm

    I share your hatred of Catcher in the Rye, and really, I’d have to re-read it to know if I could appreciate the writing (it’s been a very long time).

    The Da Vinci Code…ugh. Man, that was awful. I was finally talked into it by a girl I was dating, plowed through it (hating every minute of it), and was then assured that the movie was marginally better (spoiler: it’s not).

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