Friday, September 14, 2018

For Love of Books We Didn't Want to Read

We're supposed to talk about books we didn't want to read and then ended up loving and I've got nothing. I'd like to tell you it's because I know my own reading tastes enough that when I don't want to read something, it's because I bloody well know I'm not going to like it and to this point, I've been right. 

Everything I've read that I did not want to read I really didn't like. A few, I detested. The rest were entirely mediocre. I turned into a DNF (Did Not Finish) reader early in my career as a reader - the first book in Stephan Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series cured me of pushing through a story I hated. From that point forward, I figured out that I'd know whether I' be able to stomach a book within the first several pages. Thus began my habit of lurking in the aisles of bookstores reading and flipping through the first couple of pages. 

So it turned out that everything I was forced to read for high school English classes I knew I wouldn't like and only a few who surprised me into appreciating them. (Albert Camus, James Joyce, Joseph Conrad - Shakespeare, even.)

Am I sorry I read any of the books school made me read? A few of them, yes. I was a teenager. I did not need to be reading depressing books. I had a lock on all kinds of angst of my own. I didn't need all these major downer books adding to it. Most of the books, though, I am glad I read. Even if I didn't actively enjoy them. I mean, honestly. Who *reads* Shakespeare? That's not how you learn to appreciate the genius of those texts. It's only in performance of them that you appreciate exactly what Shakespeare did with meter and rhyme to imply stage direction and action.  

If you asked which of the writers I most learned to appreciate as I grew older, I'd say James Joyce - just for the beauty of his words and images. That The Dead was turned into a movie with Angelica Houston in it that mesmerized me helped a lot. NOTHING HAPPENS in that movie. Nothing. And yet. The words were so gorgeous. So I guess that's the story of the book I hadn't wanted to read that ended up pleasantly surprising me - a story I didn't think I actually had. 

You see, I think my brain is melting. I think we might be unexpectedly and sort of accidently be buying a house. O_o Stay tuned. Cause I have no clue how this roller coaster is going to get us back to the safety of solid ground. 

What I want to know is which book (if any) cured you of reading all way to The End in a book you don't like. 

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