Jul 31, 2013

30 Day Challenge: Day 11

Day 11: A Book You Hated

I have a lot of respect for authors. To pick a book that I hated? That seems a little pointed, a little extreme, a little violent. So, maybe, rather than refer to it as a book I hated, I’ll just say it was the furthest thing from my personal taste that I can possibly imagine.

Typically, I respond to beautiful, romantic, gothic prose. The type of writing that builds a nest in your body, slowly unwinding and crawling through you until you’re completely wrapped in the moment. That is what I love to read. The antithesis would be minimalist, boring, rugged writing that just observes without interacting. That is why Hemmingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is a book that I—gulp—hate. I thought it was boring, stale, empty. I just didn’t care one little bit about the man, the marlin, or the boy. I can appreciate the book, but I’ll appreciate it from far, far away.

It' hard to say the word "hate" when it comes to a book. If I didn't think I would like it or it didn't come highly recommended, I probably would never have picked it up. It's safe to say though that there are at least a few books out there that I couldn't even force myself to finish.

The most distinctive one that comes to mind is Vineland by Thomas Pynchon. I really wanted to like Pynchon's writing style as a professor of mine described him as eclectic, electrifying, complex. I thought I was going to read some stark and satirical social commentary, but instead I was utterly dismayed. I couldn't even make it halfway through the book I was so put off by the twisted and inane plot line that was meant to be the satirical social commentary on America's politics. Maybe eventually I'll attempt to re-read with a better mindset, but for now, I'll leave that book to collect some dust.

One book that I picked up at an airport was Churchill’s Secret Agent by Max and Linda Ciampoli. It was around the time all the Jason Bourne movies were popular, and I assumed it was going to be something like that, so I had a lot of high hopes. No matter how far I’d get in the book I was always waiting for something cool to happen, and it was always the same. Nothing exciting or shocking happened. There may have been one part in the book when thought, “Okay, that was almost worth all this reading I’ve been doing…” Halfway through the book, I just couldn’t take it anymore. If you are ever considering reading that book, my advice, just don’t.

I'll never forget the first time I didn't enjoy reading. I was in fifth grade and was assigned The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane and I hated it. Up until then, reading had been my favorite pastime and it had never occurred to me that there might be books I wouldn't want to read. So it was a rude awakening, to say the least. In hindsight, the main problem may have been that I was just too young for it. My teacher that year (who was one of my favorite teachers ever) had us reading a number of books that were perhaps a little advanced for our grade, including The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and The Call of the Wild. The only one I had a problem with was The Red Badge of Courage. Since then I have thought of picking it up to see if I would like it as an adult, but I just can't bring myself to do it. 

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