DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Aug 27 2010

ShareReads: You will totally love this book! NOT!!

by ShareReads

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

I recently came across One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and shuddered as I remembered slogging through it after several dear friends praised it to the rafters.  I managed to read the entire book over the course of many months of picking it up, getting annoyed, putting it down, feeling guilty about putting it down, whining about it and picking it up again.  It was a vicious cycle!

I have yet to figure out why there is so much love for One Hundred Years of Solitude.  As other people have shared their fondness for the book with me, I have stopped and asked why they feel the way that they do.  And, I am still baffled after all these years.  I know that I found the book dull, pointless and a bit annoying.  I do not see or understand their reverent chattering on the masterful use of magical realism, poetic prose and powerful plotting.  Nope, sorry, I did not feel the earth move under my feet as I turned the pages.

Other books that folks have told me are their absolute, most favorite, top-10-on-the-list-of-must-have-items-if-stranded on a desert island, that I have arched my eyebrow at:

  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.  I have attempted to read this three times (in earnest, I promise) and have yet to make it past page 53.
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  I loved the start of this book, but lost that love and feeling when she started proselytizing Objectivism in the middle of the book.
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.  The main character is way too whiny and lazy (and, this is coming from a proud self proclaimed lazy whiner) for me to stomach or relate to.
  • Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart.  See the comments above.  This is A Confederacy of Dunces set in Russia.  Blech.

But hey, I love Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, which others have found to be totally convoluted and depressing, and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight (not the whole series, just this one; Breaking Dawn definitely falls into the category of ugh), which others have found to be absolutely atrocious and vapid.  Every book has its reader, no?  What are some of the books that you’ve been told are the bestest but leave you cold, bored, or just scratching your head?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Veronica W August 27, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Thank you, thank you , thank you,nameless ShareReads author. I have a sister who is the acclaimed genius in the family and is very well read. She keeps sending me book recommendations which I try but cannot fathom or enjoy. To make it worse, they are usually bestsellers or written by Pulitzer Prize winners. I’m sorry but I didn’t like “Confederacy” either…or “The Shack” or “Olive Kitteridge”, just to name a chosen few. So there!

Jesse M August 27, 2010 at 10:43 AM

I have never understood the appeal of The Alchemist by Coelho, despite it being one of my significant other’s favorite books. I was also underwhelmed by Salinger’s much celebrated Catcher in the Rye. I read it as a teenager, so perhaps I should give it another try and see if I’ve matured enough to enjoy it, but at the time it just didn’t grab me.

Sara August 28, 2010 at 12:19 PM

“Life’s too short to read a book you don’t love. At age 50 or younger, give a book 50 pages to see if you like it. Over 50, subtract your age from 100 and that’s the number of pages to read before you bail on a book you’re not enjoying. And when you turn 100, you get to judge a book by its cover!” This Nancy Pearl quote has been floating around book blogs for a few years now and according to my recent google search for the exact quote, has also been in the hands of carry-out Starbucks coffee drinkers. Although it is hard to not see a novel through to the end, it has saved me from finishing those books that failed to pull me in and helps me feel better about moving on.

Hi There August 31, 2010 at 5:50 PM

I thought “The Lovely Bones” was okay, until the little dead girl decided to leave heaven to get laid.

Lynne September 2, 2010 at 11:28 AM

Thomas Hardy is one of my favorite English authors. Far from the Madding Crowd is a super read. Can you tell I’m a card carrying member of P.O.E.M. (Professional Organization of English Majors)?

priscillad September 2, 2010 at 2:06 PM

I enjoyed Water for Elephants very much. I could not put it down and the characters, especially the animals, haunted me for days. I highly recommend this book but be ready for some tragedy and joy.

Heather S September 2, 2010 at 3:34 PM

I love Water for Elephants. I think it may qualify as a “perfect book”. I was also excited to see that Sara Gruen is coming to town to speak about her new book. If you’re curious, information posted below.

From the Eagle Eye’s Book Seller’s email newsletter: An Evening with Sara Gruen

New York Times Bestselling Author of Water for Elephants and Ape House, on Thursday, September 16th. The event will take place at the Aurora Theater, 128 Pike Street in Lawrenceville.

Ape House available September 7th.

Ticketed reception will begin at 5:30pm; doors will be open to the public at 6:30pm.

Leigh P. September 10, 2010 at 10:47 AM

“Confederacy” remains one of my favorite novels of all time, as does “Lolita.” I agree with you, though, about the Garcia Marquez book. Slogging through that for a book club was akin to divorce for me.

I couldn’t understand the appeal of “Middlesex” or “Olive Kitteridge” or for that matter, most of the Pulitzer winners. There are some real gems in there, but I’m not sure they’re worthy of such a prestigious award, IMHO.

Leigh P. September 10, 2010 at 10:47 AM

Oh! I forgot ANYTHING by Carol Shields or Barbara Kingsolver.

Nolan R September 15, 2010 at 1:15 PM

I have a lengthening list of books that were my (hefty) summer reads over the course of a few years. I’ve read half of each one, and while I enjoyed what I read, I somehow haven’t found the time to get back to them.

The list includes:
-One Hundred Years of Solitude
-Anna Karenina
-White Teeth (only have 20 pages left in this one!)
-Great Expectations

I agree with Jesse about Coelho, and I HATE Catcher in the Rye. There, I said it! Hated it, hated it, hated it. But maybe I’ll reread it and see if I’ve changed my mind.

But I loved Middlesex!

Nolan R September 15, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Forgot to add…a friend from Colombia told me once that you have to read One Hundred Years of Solitude in Spanish to fully appreciate it. Kind of like when he told me he’d read Shakespeare (in Spanish!) in high school and didn’t “get” the appeal of it. No wonder!

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