Books You Love To Hate

Yesterday I gave you some of my rantings thoughts on ‘Mary Barton’ by Elizabeth Gaskell, which I had read (and had to finish) for book group. Had it not been a book group choice I would undoubtedly have given it up, yet book group being book group the very nature of it is all about trying books you might not like/normally read and so I had to finish it, no matter how much it hurt. That said I was in part pleased I read it as it brought up the issue of books that you rather enjoy disliking.

Picture by Teigiser

You see for me an utter dislike (I don’t really want to use the word hatred, but if you should wish to that’s fine I won’t judge you) of anything at all always makes me ask the question of why I don’t like it? It hones the critical skills in some ways and also makes you really appreciate the good things more. So now when I pick up a new book there is a relief after a few pages that it’s ‘not another Mary Barton’, lovely, and I appreciate it all the more.

There is also that rare moment when you get to the point that you are enjoying the fact you love hating something so much. As I said yesterday, it was actually rather a bonding moment at book group when we all held our breathe as Lucy started talking about the book and, slowly but surely, let out sighs of relief as each one of us admitted we hated it. This isn’t to be confused with a bookish version of bullying. We were soon laughing at how tedious, dull and dire we had found the experience. We all then started discussing other books we had loved to hate and it felt quite theraputic and freeing, though the latter could have been the wine maybe.

So I wondered if you would like to share books that you have loved to hate, and what was it about disliking that book so much that made it enjoyable, in a very weird way? I am hoping some of you will give examples or I might fear I am alone in the world with this feeling.

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32 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

32 responses to “Books You Love To Hate

  1. Col

    A couple of years ago I was in a book group with work colleagues. A member of staff new to the group recommended “All Men Are Brothers” which had been written about Gandhi by his son. It became the most turgid, soul destroying reading experience of my life. I battled through pages of quotes from Gandhi’s speeches and excerpts from Gandhi’s writing and it was awful, awful, awful and then a little bit more awful! I was the boss at that time and I kept mentioning how much I was struggling with it. The staff simply nodded, sympathised and muttered about “persevering” and how it was “bound to get better!” I crawled to the last page, disliking Gandhi intensely by the end. We got together and the other staff encouraged me to talk about it first. I told them of the agony I’d found reading this stuff. I asked then if they agreed – at which point they all sheepishly admitted that none of them had got beyond the first chapter! I asked the staff member who recommended it and she said “I didn’t read it either!”. As the only eejit to waste precious hours of life itself wading through it I felt bereft and my dislike of Gandhi multiplied tenfold! I kept the book as a monument to my pig- headedness and to remind me that if I really dislike a book that much it’s okay to give in!

    • Hahahaha. I think that story is hilarious. Hahaha. I am laughing with you and not at you I hope you understand!

      I would have found that book a real struggle I have to say. Though I know nothing about Gandhi so maybe I would enjoy finding out more, initially! But if everyone else hadn’t read it I would have kicked off!

  2. A book group I used to belong to read the Memoirs of Ruth Cracknell the Australian actress who everyone adored (Mother and Son) plus many other t.v. appearances but mainly she was a stage actor. We loved this woman. Everyone loved her. But her memoirs were horrible!!! The book was thick, there was no feeling, no emotion of any kind. It was a who’s who of name dropping and dates, kind of like my 5th grade history class back in 1960. We were so disappointed and the person who recommended it never lived it down but we did compare future books to it and it did make some of them so much better. I also hated Lady Chatterly’s Lover (book group read from my current book group I am in). Writing was lovely but I hated the story. Got to 60 pages and quit. I have a 60 page rule and if I’m not in it by then after Ruth’s memoir, nothing will make me go further. Life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy. I don’t care if it is for a book group!!! Good topic. Brings out the funny experiences.

    • I didn’t like Lady Chatterley’s Lover either. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I think Gav has in a readers podcast, I just skipped to the naughty bits to see what the fuss was about!

      I can’t imaging a memoir without emotion, how odd!

      • Haha funny re LCL. I think someone just thought Ruth was getting old and she should have an autobio. I’d be surprised if she actually wrote it but I guess brilliant actor does not necessarily equate brilliant rider but another book of hers as her husband lay dying Venice (forget name..agh) was stunning.

  3. I have to admit I absolutely loathed Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’, and ‘Angels and Demons’ even more. I felt I had to read the first to understand why it had such a wide appeal. I kept thinking that maybe it was a satire, because of the sloppy writing. I only read the second because it had some tangential references to CERN in Geneva, where I have close connections.

    • Now this will possibly surprise you… But I rather liked The Da Vinci Code! I know, I know, it’s trash. However it was back when I wasn’t reading much and I couldn’t put it down. It made me feel really clever as I managed to solve the riddles along the way and like I was part of the adventure.

      Anyway let’s move on and not speak of this again! Hahaha.

      • I don’t think you need to feel apologetic about it. I’m not a book snob – heaven knows, I’ve read enough crime fiction that people would think was lower than the lowest! I just thought that Da Vinci Code was like a compilation of lots of other writers and books. (I’ll be completely honest with you, that was my first impression of Harry Potter too).

      • That would make a good blog post. Junk food reading. Books we won’t admit we have read or liked that others consider junky fast food.

      • A junk food post could be good, though it falls very close to being ‘guilty pleasures’.

  4. I hate 1984. And Animal Farm. And Lord of the Flies. And The Handmaid’s Tale (though I adore almost everything else Atwood has written). There’s a kind of pattern there I guess, based on the fact that I can’t cope with distopian literature. And I hate, loathe and detest The Old Curiosity Shop because Little Nell is such a prig. And Elnora, in Girl of the Limberlost runs her a pretty close second as the most irritating heroine ever. And don’t get me started on Agatha Raisin again… But there are lots and lots of books that I love. Honestly.

    • Oh I like 1984, but I am with you on Animal Farm Christine, it was a book I loathed at school (possibly as I read it at school and had to re-read and re-read and re-read it). Don’t you feel better for that little rant though?

      • AJ

        I adored Animal Farm after I taught it for a history class (not a lit class — I don’t think it should ever be taught in a lit class) — once I made the connections between the animals and their Russian counterparts, the sense of dread about what was ahead was palpable. Not my favorite Orwell by a long shot, but it’s something more than just a clever parable.

        My love to hate book is Villette. I just could not get past the first 50 pages. I have learned to avoid most junk food reading after succumbing and purchasing both Da Vinci Code and The Bridges of Madison County. Life’s too short. That said — I read The Silence of the Lambs in maybe 2 hours.

  5. Anything by Virginia Woolf (sorry if you’re a fan). Stoopid chick lit, lad lit (with the exception of the superior Nick Hornby), anything with zombies, Jane Austen pastiches, prequels and sequels. I could go on …

    • I will join you in the Woolf loathing, I find her too ‘dreamy’ and she gets on my nerves. I know saying that is a book lovers cardinal sin but there, its out, ahhhh relief.

  6. Although it was voted the best mystery novel of all time, and although I have never seen a negative review of it anywhere, I hated Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. I hated every page. And not because it was boring, but because she was arguing a case, and breaking every rule about how to do that fairly. She pre-emptively sneered at any reader who didn’t accept her case uncritically. But I wanted to hold her to account, I wanted her to justify her assertions, so I found reading the book incredibly frustrating.

    • I hav’t read any Tey, but this made me laugh as I was recommended this very book the other day, I didn’t rush out and buy it, though the fact you disliked it so much and someone else loved it so much does make me want to read it all the more.

    • AJ

      I know that’s the book Tey is known for — and it is my least favorite. I’ve read them all and I’d place The Franchise Affair, Brat Farrar and Miss Pym Disposes at the top.

  7. Sue N

    Th Children’s Book A S Byatt, too long and dreary. If a book bores me I speed read it to get the bones of the story out of it, which is which is what I did with this – no bones to speak of, just the relief of being able to put it in the charity bag. Annoying because Possession is one of my all time favourites.

    I also have also abandoned the type of crime books that try to out gore each other and, after 6 or so the author continuously writes her characters into increasingly impossible traumatising scenarios. There are at least two series that I started off with enjoyment but didnt finish the last volumes I tried. The point of these books seem to be the gore and the trauma, no thanks.

    I also loathed with a passion Les Liason Dangerous when I had to study it for an OU course. That was mainly because I hated the characters.

    • Oh I loved Les Liason Dangereuses because I loathed the characters so much and ended up revelling in their dastardly doings. It was a little long but i generally loved it. I can also be partial to a gore fest crime book, but not too often.

  8. Like we all said…don’t you seem to get a real discussion going so much easier with a book you all hated? If it had been all happy and sunny then well….we would have all ended up much more drunk I think !
    :) Ah Simon, I’m glad you see the positive side of poor ol’ Mary B…I’m even feeling quite nostalgic about that dreadful shared experience now..

    It might say something about me but blazing reviews (which I do rarely write in fairness) always seem to roll of the keyboard much easier…

    • You should feel nostalgic, I think it was very bonding. I think when we realised no one liked it at all and everyone had bile aimed at it there was a collective sense of relief. We must recommend bad books to the W.I tonight.

  9. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I’m a historian and can’t stand how she made Anne into a wicked person. We may not know every fact, but what we do know points to Anne being a good person who was maligned, and it wasn’t that Gregory just didn’t like her or disagreed, which I’d understand, she really laid into her and then tried to propose her ideas were facts.

    • Oh you see I liked that oddly, but I did read it with a strong sense of ‘really?’ running through my head. I like the idea of Anne as being wikced even though I am sure she wasn’t – makes a great character though doesnt it!? Despite possible inaccuracies.

  10. Louise Trolle

    Here are my “strongly dislikes” :-)

    Anything by Bret Easton Ellis, particularly Glamorama, which is the last book I ever forced myself to finish. It just seems like he writes about depraved depression – for no other reason than being gross and depressive. I’ll never read another book by him.

    The Tin Drum by Grass, which I had to read for classes, and Disgrace by Coetzee, which I didn’t understand half of and which left me in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

    Girl with a Pearl Earring, which everyone in my book club disliked. We all thought the main character sounded more like a frustrated 40 y old than a young girl, and was really annoying.

  11. The Time-Travellers Wife, romantic twaddle and Atonement, where there wasn’t enough atonement for my liking

  12. FBT

    Anything by Thomas Hardy. Gah. His descriptions of nature are just so tedius, and all of his female characters make me violent with rage. But I still continue to buy his books, and when I’m in a pissy mood I pull another one out and read it. Note: I do think he’s quite a good writer, it’s just that his style and women folk irk me to no end.

    • I don’t know if I dare admit that I still havent read anything by Thomas Hardy, oops.

    • AJ

      I did an independent study on Hardy’s novels in college and he left me pretty cold. A few years back I read the Tomalin bio — which I had some problems with, especially in regard to her portrait of his first wife. But Tomalin was great on his poetry and I went back to try the poetry, which I loved, and then began on the short works which I’d never read. Now I love his work. My favorite of the novels is The Return of the Native.

  13. gke88

    There are a lot of books I love but I really did not like The Grapes of Wrath or Great Expectations. I just think Grapes of Wrath was too drawn out and boring. I was also forced to read the book about 4 times throughout middle and high school. I’m not really sure why I didn’t like Great Expectations but it just didn’t click with me. Also, just realized the last post was in June so sorry!

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