The true university these days is a collection of books.
-Thomas Carlyle

Sunday, 19 October 2008

In the bin!

Over at bookchase this week Sam was talking about books that everyone seems to love except you. This conversation started over at Faemom's and both came up with 10 examples. While I can't quite get to 10, I have printed my own examples below to continue this train of thought.
I would never throw a book away, preferring to pass them on, but metaphorically, I put loads of stuff from life in the pedal bin that lives in my mind. The following were consigned there...
1. The biggest offender, the one that is often accompanied with "don't get me started..." from me, is The Magus by John Fowles. I was recommended this book by quite a few people as 'amazing' and for the duration (and it was an endurance) of time that I read it people would come up to me and say things like 'that book changed my life' and they would go all dreamy eyed. On holiday in Greece you could go on a Magus tour of Spetses island, where the book is meant to be set. Someone even told me her ex-boyfriend had Magus tattooed on his arm after reading it. Wow, I thought, this is some book. However I was struggling through it, mainly because I found it difficult to follow (this is a story where nothing is as it seems) and I was also bored stiff, but another friend told me it all comes together on the last page. It took me months to finish it. The book had wafted me through re-plays of classical mythology, to an underground courtroom where everyone is dressed up as animals, and no one is who they say they are, playing mind games with the main character and you. The last sentence was in Latin, it bore no light in translation. I have asked the people who loved it to explain it...they all went a bit quiet, 'I'm not sure I remember it now' they said evasively. I have begged others to read it and enlighten me. One day I will come across someone who will adequately explain why they loved it so much and put me out of my misery. Until then I will always view this book as a self-indulgent tome that was a waste of time to me. Deep breath...
2. Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens. I love Dickens (I have not read them all), and after totally enjoying Great Expectations I was pleased and excited to see this one on my course list for the final year of my degree. It was so awash in sentimentality and gender stereotypes I just got bored. I didn't even batt an eyelid for 'Poor Paul'. Another tome that was so unreal I was glad to reach the finishing post and put it behind me.
3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Another course book, for obvious reasons, and I understand why, the gothicism, written by a woman, and the concept is truly amazing. But actually reading it...the coincidences were too much for me and I got bored.
4. The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger. One I share with Sam from Bookchase, I didn't hate it, but felt it passed me by without moving me in any way. I would love to go to a seminar about it to find out what I missed out on.
5. Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen. We did this one for our reading group and everyone loved it, were quoting bits from it and finding it hilairious. Except me. I couldn't get into it and never finished it.
Which books have you read that everyone else loved except you? Which ones would you put 'in the bin?' Any Magus lovers who can shed any light and convince me otherwise???


sarah b said...

Leah - Not sure if this the right place to leave this comment - but anyway! Have just bought Book Thief and Time Travellers Wife for my holiday reads after reading your blog so I will let you know...... Sx

Anonymous said...

Am with you on Frankenstein - I wonder if its because the imagery has become cliché wasn't when Shelley wrote it but to a modern reader the drama is all melodrama in that novel...

lunarossa said...

Hi Leah, I "bumped" into your blog by chance and I find it very interesting. I am a keen reader too and I regret the fact that I do not have enough time to read as much as I'd like to. To go back to the theme of your entry, one of the worst books I've read lately is "And Then We Came to the End" by Joshua Ferris. I'd read some positive reviews and it was supposed to be very funny...well, I totally hate it. Maybe it was the use of the “we” or the completely uninteresting characters, but it did not engage me at all and I feel I wasted my precious time. I do not “bin” books but I tend to pass them on or to give them to charity shops. Recently I have also discovered Book Crossing, a fun way to share your books ( All the best. Ciao. Antonella

60GoingOn16 said...

Hello Leah - found your blog via Tea Leaves and was struck by your comments about The Magus. I was one of the people who raved about it when it was published but would be hard pressed to tell you why, all these years later. (And I read it twice. . .)

My nominations would be the 'rediscovered' novels and short stories of Dorothy Whipple, recently published by Persephone. Dating from the 1930s and 1940s, they drew admiring comments from many genteel book bloggers but left me absolutely cold. The worst was Someone at a Distance, which was what one of my blogging chums would describe as a load of old tosh.

(PS, I'm an OU literature, plus a bit of art history, graduate too. What an amazing experience the OU was.)

Leah said...

sarah b - I hope you enjoy those books as much as I did. Have a great hol, I look forward to hearing all about it.

incurablelogophilia - I took Frankenstein on holiday, it wasn't the right choice I have to say. I wanted to like it...

lunarossa - thanks for dropping by, I am glad you found something interesting here and I hope you call back. The bin is only a metaphor, a saying, I don't really bin books, but pass them on. Good luck with the new blog, its a lot of fun!

60goingon16 - I am really glad you dropped by and I hope you visit again. The OU is fantastic isn't it. I miss it loads and got so much out of it. I also did 1 year of Art History in amongst the literature courses, sounds like we followed a similar path!

Holly said...

Books that everyone loves and I didn't? Oh let's see...Twilight and New Moon, Catcher in the Rye, anything by James Patterson and Nicholas Sparks, Bridget Jones. Funny, I enjoyed Frankenstein though!

Anonymous said...

I just found this. And I'm wondering if any one actually likes Catcher in the Rye because I totally agree with you there. I remember reading Frankenstein and thought it was ok, but I've read more books playing on the Mary Shelley's idea and they did it better.

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