Books you were "supposed" to like but didn't , and alternate recommendations

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Books you were "supposed" to like but didn't , and alternate recommendations

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1starfishpaws
nov 11, 2008, 9:51 am

I hope you know what I mean by books you feel pressured to like, but don't. The kinds of books that win awards and have terrific reviews. Movies are made of them. Your friends read them and love them. You read them - and don't like them - and then feel vaguely ashamed because you didn't.

I'll start with Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain. When it came out it was everywhere and everyone loved it. I like historical fiction and am interested in the Civil War so I got myself a copy. The result was that on my personal rating scale I gave Cold Mountain two-stars which means that I managed to finish it but would never re-read it and will end up taking it to the UBS. I wish I understood why this book is so well loved. After all, it's owned by almost 5,000 LibraryThingers.

On the other hand, about the same time Howard Bahr published his Civil War novel The Black Flower which I absolutely love and have re-read once already. It's only owned by 126 LibraryThingers.

Do you have any "guilty" secrets about books you feel like you should have liked, but didn't?

Note: This is in no way a slap against Cold Mountain and the readers who love it. It's just personal opinion.

2robbieg_422
nov 11, 2008, 5:00 pm

When I pick up a book that says "National Bestseller" on the cover, I pretty much know I have about a 40% chance of loving it, and a 60% chance of wondering 'what are these people thinking'. I'm very used to this and don't feel the least bit ashamed of myself (when I was younger, I kept my opinions to myself if I didn't agree with the majority, but I've gotten over that for the most part--thank goodness). I guess I'm just enough of an oddball that I can usually tell that if it's on Oprah's must-read list, I'm probably not going to like it that much, although there have been exceptions. I usually just don't choose hers anymore.

There are books that I really WANT to like, but just can't. Cold Mountain was one of them; it's in my library, but I didn't even finish it. I wonder how many of the 5,000 LibraryThingers would say the same thing? Another one is The Know-It-All. I've tried to read this about 5 different times, because I really like the idea of reading through the EB, but I find it sarcastic and annoying every time. I haven't made it through the C's yet. I may get through it, 3 or 4 pages at a time, by the time I'm 50:)

3sgtbigg
nov 12, 2008, 2:35 am

I really didn't like The Road. I generally enjoy(?) post-apocalyptic novels so I read this in spite of Oprah's recommendation. I should have gone with my first instinct and avoided it.

4alcottacre
nov 14, 2008, 7:39 am

There are a couple of classics that fit the bill for me here. One is Wuthering Heights and the other is The Great Gatsby.

I try to avoid anything that is recommended by the Oprah Book Club. I just refuse to jump on that bandwagon, although I have read a couple that I found out were recommended by OBC after the fact.

5valleymom
nov 18, 2008, 12:38 pm

After enjoying Run, I reviewed other works by Ann Patchett. I read many positive reviews of her Bel Canto, so I looked forward to reading it as well. I was very disappointed in how it ended. Fortunately, it didn't put me off from reading The Magician's Assistant but I'm wary of delving further into this writer's works. Don't wish to be disappointed twice.

6ToReadToNap
nov 20, 2008, 8:20 am

There are a couple of good points here. My co-workers and I at the library often wonder about the "best-sellers"; how does a particular book get to be a best-seller when there are often similar books that are far superior. It's the subject of many a thesis, I would guess. The DaVinci Code is one for me that confuses. It's entertaining, but the supposed unsolvable puzzles are ridiculous. (The Will Shortz crowd must have gotten a good laugh from that one.) And the writing is no great shakes. So why the hoopla?

The other point is from valleymom....when an author is extremely variable. For me Elizabeth Berg is like that. I love some of her things and really dislike others. Alice Hoffman is another in that category for me. Oddly, I agree about Ann Patchett but I liked Run and Bel Canto but didn't like Magician's Assistant. Interesting.

As to books I was "supposed" to like: I'll mention The Kite Runner. I'm sorry books about pedophilia are never my idea of a "good read". Also include Cold Mountain as mentioned above and Memoirs of a Geisha. As for alternative suggestions along similar themes. Hmmm, that is a good good question.

7Bookmarque
nov 20, 2008, 10:14 am

My mom has given me various books over the years...Jodi Picoult type stuff and it has taken me a long time to make her understand that while we might me mother and daughter, we don't have the same taste in books.

8Copperskye
nov 25, 2008, 10:34 am

# 5 and #6. I'm another reader who finds Ann Patchett to be variable. I loved The Magician's Assistant, The Patron Saint of Liars and Taft but couldn't finish either Bel Canto or Run even though I tried several times.

9stefc80
okt 17, 2009, 8:58 pm

I've enjoyed Ann Patchett, but have NOT been able to get into Pillars of the Earth. Lots of people have told me how good it is and I like books based in the Medieval period. What is it with me and this book? I've tried it three times and I still have it in the house waiting for the day I'm ready. Any insights anyone?

10Bookmarque
okt 17, 2009, 9:37 pm

it's a giant, sprawling medieval soap opera, nothing more. While I liked it, it was for all the wrong reasons. Like a 70s B horror movie.

11mejix
okt 18, 2009, 2:32 am

for me the most recent example was the blue flower by penelope fitzgerald, a novel about the german poet novalis. it came in fourth in a british survey of the best novels of the last 25 yrs. i have no idea why.

12avanta7
okt 18, 2009, 11:58 am

Mine was A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. So many people whose opinions I respected raved about how fabulous this book was. I found it annoying and coy and, well, here's a quote from my review: "I just couldn't take any more of the author's self-indulgence. Eggers is far too taken with himself and his solipsistic view of the world. The book is narcissistic and self-centered and far too 'cute.' And the 'hey look at me, I'm writing' voice Eggers uses is extremely annoying. I gave up on page 196."

I read one Jodi Picoult novel (Nineteen Minutes) and will never ever pick up anything she writes again. Not because of the subject matter of that particular book, but because I feel her writing is coldly and deliberately emotionally manipulative. There are very few books I hate. That was one of them.

13ca_dmv
dec 13, 2009, 7:26 pm

Mine was "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". It was part of my book club list a few years ago. I will faithfully keep reading a book club book for the entire month whether I like it or not. (I normally get through a book in a week to 2 weeks depending on how busy I am with life. I found many reasons to avoid this book). This one NOT...I was maybe half way through the book when the Club met to discuss. Everyone in the club but me LOVED the book. Normally, I will put aside a book I don't connect with but peer pressure won out this time. Took another month to finish the book but I finally did. Still didn't like it!!!

14crazy4reading
jan 6, 2010, 10:03 am

I guess I would have to say the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It took me a long time to read those books. I enjoyed them but I don't think I will read them again. I found myself getting bored with the talk at times in the story. Now the movies I do enjoy. I just didn't find them that wonderful for myself. I usually love most of the books I have read only a few have I not liked.

15satsche
jan 13, 2010, 2:04 pm

I have to say I was very disappointed by The old Man and the Sea

For the most part I just found it very boring.

16AHS-Wolfy
jan 13, 2010, 6:13 pm

So far I would have to say Brave New World is the one that fits the description so far as I'm concerned. A widely regarded classic that just didn't do it for me. What makes it a little stranger is that I've just read Fahrenheit 451 and thought that an excellent book.

17Anastasia169
maj 31, 2010, 3:26 pm

I have had trouble with The Time Traveler's Wife, I love time travel and I thought the novel would appeal but it just didn't. I agree about Cold Mountain as well, the problem with that book is that the writing is just not that good. Frazier tried for lyrical but didn't have the chops to pull it off, so while he had a good story the poor writing killed it.

18cal8769
jun 29, 2010, 8:34 am

I'm shocked at the number of people my age who like (loved) the Twilight series. Yuck!! I love romance and horror, paranormal or just strange books but I suffered to read those books. I work with educated, well spoken women who after reading these books sounded like a 13 year old.

19thebooky
jun 29, 2010, 9:49 am

Twilight, ugh! James Patterson-doesn't he get ghost writers to write for him? Also, I read The Elegance of a Hedgehog and suffered through to the end. Highly acclaimed reviews and I hated. I thought I must have missed something, but no, I don't think I did.

20anna_in_pdx
jun 29, 2010, 11:02 am

Mine go back a ways.

1. Bret Easton Ellis' "Less than Zero." Ugh. I couldn't stand any of the characters. I've read other modernist novels where characters were unlikeable but somehow you were invested enough in them to care. This one, no.

2. Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises." Rich twits on holiday in Spain.

3. Crichton's "State of Fear." Global warming denialism at its crankiest - and I had read several of his earlier thriller/sci fi books and liked them very much. Felt sorry for the man, he must have gone senile or something.

21beelzebubba
jul 7, 2010, 11:33 am

Anything by Dickens, it seems, for me. I so wanted to like him, since everyone else seems to. Plus, I love depressing books. But I've tried several, and just couldn't get into any of them.

Also, I made it half-way through Moby Dick, and had to put it down. Just couldn't finish it. But, I will probably pick it up again one day, and try to finish it.

22GCPLreader
jul 16, 2010, 3:00 pm

As for the classics, I can't understand why I don't like Jane Austen. I decided to give her one more go this summer with Persuasion, but nope, found it extremely tedious. But the thing is, I absolutely love any Austen movies, with Sense and Sensibility being one of my all time favs.

2 new novels that have been very popular here on LT that I really could have done without reading are Cutting for Stone and The Lacuna. I believe I gave them both 3 stars.

23Yamanekotei
aug 3, 2010, 12:52 am

Mine is "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. I tried it three times so far, and it is still waiting for me to finish. And the point bothers me the most is that this book is less than 200 pages long...

24crazy4reading
aug 23, 2010, 3:29 pm

I would have to say that A Separate Peace is another one that I never enjoyed when I read it in school. I do plan to give it a try again just to see if I actually will like it now.

25BONS
jan 31, 2011, 6:00 pm

The Elegance of the Hedgehog was a torment for me with my bookclub.

Every Last One this one was just too heartbreaking

26LisaStens
jan 31, 2011, 7:01 pm

There are a lot of 'classics' that are often touted as masterpieces I just could not garner any enthusiasm for but there are a couple of books that stand out because their subject matter and style were typically something I should love. The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek is one of them. It was recommended because of another book I loved and by reading the description, it seemed right up my alley but it was so repetitive and laborious! While the other book was delightfully satirical, Švejk was just...repetitive and laborious. Another surprising, huge disappointment was Kristin Lavransdatter by Sidrid Undset. It's Scandinavian, historical fiction, almost my entire family has read it and loved it and would go on and on about what a great, strong heroine Kristin was but I found her to be absolutely insufferable. I did enjoy the historical aspect of it, that was quite fascinating but I was unable to finish the 3rd novel in the series because I had just had enough of Kristin.

27jldarden
feb 17, 2011, 10:19 pm

Gotta second The Road. Couldn't understand it winning the Pulitzer except for it's seemingly forced stylistic approach. As far as the classics I would agree with The Great Gatsby and add The picture of Dorian Gray. Found no likable characters in either.

28KindleKapers
feb 21, 2011, 6:26 am

A recent one for me - Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff. Here's my REVIEW.

29GirlMisanthrope
maj 2, 2011, 7:20 pm

I've been an obsessional bibliophile long enough to realize that books that are pushed through as best sellers are probably lacking something and NEED huge press and false accolades. (Do they actually twist the arms of successful authors they work with to get them to create cover blurbs?) The best of best get word of mouth. Here on LT, the best usually have reviews that say something like, 'I can't believe it isn't a best-seller'. I love the fresh surprise of getting an ARC or in taking a chance on a book in a used bookstore and it turns out to be amazing.

30GirlMisanthrope
Redigeret: maj 2, 2011, 7:24 pm

Oh, and I have so far resisted Like Water For Elephants.

31kimncali
Redigeret: jun 6, 2011, 7:29 pm

I'm really trying to read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I'm hoping it's just a slow start and I'll eventually find it engaging.

32anna_in_pdx
jun 6, 2011, 7:37 pm

31: from all I have heard, you won't. Best to give it up and look for something better written. :)

33MsNick
jun 8, 2011, 11:51 am

Hi, everyone! I just saw a recommendation for this group, so here I am! I can read just about anything, but I could not abide The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. As I said in a post for the 75 Books in 2011 group, I'd rather give King Kong a Brazilian wax than continue reading it. Admittedly, I've read my fair share of rot, but I couldn't stand that novel!

34moods
jun 8, 2011, 9:44 pm

It's been a long time since I've read age of innocence ... but I really don't remember it being that bad. I think I enjoyed it.
I remember I liked the ending...

35darkdanita
Redigeret: jun 28, 2011, 12:38 am

Atlas Shrugged is a hard read, but well worth it. The thing is that there is so much sub-text & layers of meaning that if you want to read for pleasure rather than think- it's not the book for you.

36EBirdy
jun 28, 2011, 12:40 pm

This is a very fun discussion!

I agree about Memoirs of a Geisha - what was all the to-do about? I also was the only one in my book group who loathed Olive Kitteridge. From a writing perspective, yes, I can respect it. But the story? Ugh! I made it through The Fountainhead but didn't "get" it. I'm another who can't get through Pillars of the Earth - glad it wasn't just me! My dad read it and the sequel and loved them both. Never finished Wives and Daughters but everyone else loved it.

On the other hand, I thought Wolf Hall was incredible and can't wait for the next installment, but most of my friends couldn't get through it and/or didn't enjoy it. Books are like wine - everyone gets something different from the same bottle! :-)

37Cecrow
maj 17, 2012, 1:23 pm

I've never read The Da Vinci Code; after reading Foucault's Pendulum I don't see why I would bother.

Tried Outlander and it was a total fail for me - despite being big on science fiction (time travel) and historical fiction (Scotland is as interesting as anywhere.) I had no problem with Pillars of the Earth.

Oprah's recommendation makes me think twice - her tastes are definitely not aligned with mine - but not where her classic selections are concerned. Those were around a long time before she came on the scene, and are still here for good reason. I have The Heart is a Lonely Hunter on the TBR pile for later this year, and I'm aiming to finally sample Faulkner before I join the 50s group.