Reading Meme – Day Five

Day Five – A book you hate

I have a pretty even tie for this recognition: Mary Shelley’s The Last Man and Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life.

Both were required reading for me as an undergrad, and if I’m honest, I hated them both so much that I couldn’t bring myself to finish either one. I couldn’t sell these back to the bookstore fast enough at the end of that semester.

I found Eugene, of Look Homeward, so thoroughly disagreeable at the outset that I couldn’t get past it. On a certain level I can appreciate the prose that Wolfe and his editor, Maxwell Perkins, crafted, but what it comes down to is that I had no sympathy for or way of identifying with the protagonist. There were whole passages of the story that made me want to throw the novel at a wall in irritation.

I still don’t understand how the same person who wrote one of my favorites, Frankenstein, could trot out something as painful to read as The Last Man. I get that Shelley was at a bad point in her life when she wrote it, I do, but that doesn’t excuse the boring pacing and forgettable characters. The most I can muster up about this novel is “blah,” and if I hadn’t had to write a paper on it, I wouldn’t have read as much of it as I did.

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About Jessica

Dork extraordinaire, that's me! An unhealthy knowledge of Star Trek, a love of books, a fondness for purring cats.
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9 Responses to Reading Meme – Day Five

  1. I *hated* Beloved. In fact, I don’t believe “hate” truly captures the loathing that rises up within me when I even see the cover.

    I had to read it in my 2nd year of university. I wrote an entire paper about why the book sucked. The prof told me that, with maturity and experience, I would come to appreciate the book. A few years ago, I re-read the book. The loathing had increased. Clearly, I’ve lost maturity and experience since university because the book is less tolerable now.

    • Jessica says:

      I haven’t given Beloved a try, yet, but I you describe perfectly how I feel about Look Homeward. I used the cover art for a different edition here simply because seeing the edition I had to read makes my blood pressure rise.

      *snort* “With maturity,” huh? I’m so glad my professor didn’t try that with Look Homeward when I told her I hated it.

  2. My mother does say that I’m regressing, so perhaps there’s something to that…

  3. Redhead says:

    i don’t wanna say a book i hated, because it’s still getting glowing reviews all over the SF/F interwebs, and there’s so much bad press going around about reviewers who trash books. here’s some hints: it’s the first in a series, and generally I found that women who reviewed it didn’t care for it, and men who reviewed it loved it.

    • Jessica says:

      This makes me super curious, since your hints aren’t triggering anything in my brain. If you don’t want to say on a public forum (which I totally get), I think I’ll send an e-mail and ask. I can’t not know.

  4. Andy says:

    Harry Potter, and a close second is To Kill A Mockingbird, which could be subtitled “A Patronizing View of Black People and their Place and Society”

  5. PurdueLiz says:

    The Scarlet Letter. Read it in an Honors English class in HS, not once, but TWICE, because we had to debate it. I detested it.

    • Jessica says:

      There’s not much worse than being forced to read something you hate more than once. You have my sympathies. I rather like Hester, but I also read the novel on my own, not as an assignment, so maybe that made the difference. Heaven knows English classes can utterly ruin perfectly good stories.

      I’m lucky I’m only indifferent to Hamlet, and I never got to the point of hating it, ’cause over the course of high school and college I was forced to read it three times. By the end of it, I was really.damn.tired of that play.

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