There have been times where I have had to argue why I dislike a book. And it was a draining and exceedingly frustrating experience. Any bookish person has probably had similar arguments or arguments in which you had to defend a book that you loved. My question to the literary world is this: Why do you care whether I like a book or not? My book preferences have nothing at all to do with what you read. Therefore, I am here to comfort all those book lovers who’ve dealt with the same situation and say it is perfectly acceptable to go against the grain when it comes to your book choices and the authors you choose to either binge or avoid like the Black Death.
Just because it’s in the canon doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, I don’t like most of the books that make up the canon i.e. J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. I cannot express just how much I hate this novel. It was required reading for me in high school and I am sure that it was required in most schools and that many have read this work. I read the book and read essays on Holden Caulfield and his mental health issues and anxiety. The essays I had to read only added wood to my ever-burning flame of hate for this novel. Don’t get me wrong, I have read other works by Salinger that I actually enjoyed but no matter what I tried, I could not enjoy this particular work. In fact, I recall my teacher claiming that I would enjoy it once I had become an adult. I tried reading it and put it right back down. Rereading those first few pages as an adult was just as awful as when I read it as a teenager.
On the other hand, there are dozens of books that I enjoy that others just can’t seem to get into. I enjoy fantasy and love long works. And if you are new to this blog, I’ll inform you that I also love suspense and horror. Here is a new fact for all, I love academic books as well (certain topics of academia). Random knowledge, yes! One book that I know most in my circle wouldn’t even pick up is a book entitled The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker. I first read this book in middle school and then again in grad school. Both reads were enjoyable because I picked up on different nuances and noticed different things, most likely due to my maturity. Temple takes place over various time periods, in various locations, with multiple narrators. The books discusses marriage, agency, religion, spirituality and so much more. Each character has a unique set of perspectives because of their unique experiences and in my opinion, it is Walker’s finest work. But that is just my opinion. I know that there are those out there who dislike stories with multiple narrators and novels that jump in space and time often but it works well in this novel. I could go on and on about Temple but not everyone likes it and many people that I come across do not.
Everyone has different tastes. Some like action-packed books with little to no plot, others like stories that are basically just meta, every one is unique in their writing preferences. Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments.
Some authors are boring. Walt Whitman makes me want to take a nap with just a few sentences yet he is supposedly one of the most remarkable writers to come from the U.S. of A. There are hundreds of authors out there that seem to use flowery words for no reason or never reach the point that they said they’d be making. There are some authors that you try to like simply because everyone else enjoys them. And so, you read book after book from fiction to memoir to short story collection and yet none of it suits your fancy. Sorry Mr. Big Shot Writer but your books are dreadful and will always be dreadful to me. One of my colleagues on Scribophile was talking about an author I’ll get to later and said something along the lines of, “I know he’s the write-iest writer to have ever writer-ed but I just can’t stand him.” This may just be your opinion and that is fine. Don’t force yourself to read something simply because everyone seems to enjoy that author or because they have great reviews and were in Oprah’s Book Club.
Other authors make use of awkward writing styles that you can’t get past. In your mind you think, “They could have made this point in a simpler way.” or “Why does this person use em dashes as though they made up for every other type of punctuation?” No matter how good a work may be personally I cannot get past awkward style or off-kilter punctuation. That may work good in lyric form but I don’t want my science-fiction suspense thriller to read like an Emily Dickinson poem. I give every book a chance to win me over but if I still cannot look past it at the end of the first chapter, that book shall never again be graced with my readerly eyes. Simple as that. You can usually tell if an author’s style is why you dislike them after an adaptation.
One big writer who I often hear this with is Stephen King. His books are usually a bit hard to work one’s way through because of his unique style (that is also infuriating). And while many cannot get through even the shortest of his novels, they adore the film and television adaptations. In fact, they may even enjoy reading a plot summary but the thought of reading the actual novel strikes fear in their hearts.
People say that geniuses are often misunderstood, maybe that’s why you couldn’t get through a Stephen King novel if someone paid you $1,000. And you know what, that is perfectly okay. You are you and you can like or dislike whatever author you choose.
Now that you’ve heard my opinion, I want to hear yours. Are there books you abhor that everyone loves or vice versa? Comment down below!