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Books You Hated, But Then Loved

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03-24-2014, 10:33 AM
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Richard F Schiller
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Books You Hated, But Then Loved

Not every book I read will be immediately loved by me like Lolita, Crime and Punishment or Native Son was. So, throughout the evolution of my literary tastes, there are a lot of texts I've really disliked at first, but then really enjoyed after a second read. In most of these cases, it's either that the text is using a new literary style or is simply too difficult for me to understand on a first crack.

Examples:

As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner : I grew up reading literature that was deliberately meant to be beautiful, Oscar Wilde's works as examples. Reading this was a big shock because the prose was incredibly ugly and the narrative kept shifting between multiple characters. Eventually, I came to love the fragmented narrative style and enjoyed the subtle humour as well.

Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf : I had a lot of trouble understanding why anyone would write in stream-of-consciousness. Woolf would have her characters thinking about something profound and then insert little random bits of them thinking about what kind of flowers they should buy from the store or what they were having for dinner. It was very frustrating to read at first, but I eventually began to appreciate the realism behind this type of writing.

The Turn of the Screw - Henry James : This text was so confusing at first, due to the sheer excess of details given by James. He also makes the actual themes of the book incredibly difficult to pick up on if it's your first time reading his works. At first, I thought it was just a badly-written ghost story but then I eventually found the sexual undertones of the story that make it worthwhile.

Books that I Hated, and Still Hate: To Kill a Mockingbird, Beloved, Great Expectations, The Crying of Lot 49, Uncle Tom's Cabin.

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03-24-2014, 10:39 AM
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kihei
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The older I got the better Joyce got. Imagine that. I was very lukewarm about A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in my youth, but once I reread it after I turned 50, I quickly realized that the fault was mine. On the other hand, I seem to have less patience with some of Gunter Grass' seminal works now than I did when I was younger, so I guess it can work both ways.

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03-24-2014, 10:53 AM
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No Fun Shogun
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If memory serves, I strongly disliked the Horatio Hornblower books when I first read them in early middle school, so I stopped a few books in. By the time I reached junior high and high school though, I went back to them and found that I loved the series immensely.

Granted, the "prequel" books were the weakest in the series for me aside from Admiral Hornblower, which just so happened to be the first ones I read for obvious reasons, but still good.

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03-24-2014, 12:32 PM
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The first time I read Game of Thrones I only got through about 100 pages. I didn't necessarily hate it, I just had trouble keeping tabs on all the characters and found it overwhelming (I was 13 or 14 at the time). I waited about a year and picked it back up again. I have since read all the books at least twice. Easily my favourite novels.

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03-24-2014, 02:25 PM
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Richard F Schiller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kihei View Post
The older I got the better Joyce got. Imagine that. I was very lukewarm about A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in my youth, but once I reread it after I turned 50, I quickly realized that the fault was mine. On the other hand, I seem to have less patience with some of Gunter Grass' seminal works now than I did when I was younger, so I guess it can work both ways.
I'm 21 right now and I hope I have this revelation as well, seeing how well-received his works have been and how much they have influenced other authors. I actually enjoy his short stories quite a bit, particularly "The Dead", but I tried to read Finnegan's Wake and I got destroyed.

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03-24-2014, 03:39 PM
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I didn't care for Nineteen Eighty Four or Brave New World when I first read them, though was 16/17 at the time respectively, I think. And on second/subsequent read-throughs/study I appreciated Brave New World more for that... aside from that, there's nothing I flat-out loathed or changed my opinion on too greatly. I mean there's stuff I loathe right now and would like to see wiped off the face of the earth, but I'm content with that and don't have a pressing need to try to change.

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03-24-2014, 06:44 PM
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kihei
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard F Schiller View Post
I'm 21 right now and I hope I have this revelation as well, seeing how well-received his works have been and how much they have influenced other authors. I actually enjoy his short stories quite a bit, particularly "The Dead", but I tried to read Finnegan's Wake and I got destroyed.
I love Dubliners even more now than I did when I first read it at your age, but I haven't worked my way up to Finnegan's Wake again. I strongly suspect that is one mountain that will always be just too hard to climb no matter how much experience I acquire.

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03-26-2014, 01:47 AM
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Oscar Acosta
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I was 16 when I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and I probably rolled my eyes into my head. As a teenager you know everything.

Read it again at 21, and instantly became my favorite book and Hunter S. Thompson my favorite author of all time. I read everything he wrote within 3 months. I wrote him a long letter addressed simply to "Hunter Thompson, Woody Creek, Colorado" on the envelope. Got a weird marker scribble on 5 by 7 inch' paper back saying "Read Everything HST" Now framed and on my wall. Took that to heart. I've read every Watchtower a Jehovah has handed me, etc.

Beyond that, I first read Michael Ondaatje's "In the Skin of a Lion" and thought it was good but had no substance. I'd have given it a 3/10 (I often worry my review of Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam will do the same).
Ended up in a book club that had us re-read it, I wasn't looking forward to it, but on a second go it was suddenly great. March of last year, Ondaatje was in Edmonton for a book reading of The Cat's Table, so I went got him to sign that one and my worn out copy of In the Skin of a Lion.

He actually laughed, why would I want that ragged book signed? It was my favorite of anything he wrote I said. He signed it and was like "Me too."

Now one of my prized possessions. Not just because it's signed - I have Jane Goodall - Africa in My Blood personally signed, ****** book.


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03-26-2014, 11:23 AM
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I won't say I hated it at first or loved it the second time, but in college I took a science fiction course and read about 100 pages of Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun before giving up hopelessly due to the complexity of the plot and the high-level language use. After graduating I forced myself to read it through, and now I just want to be able to write like he does. Fantastic wordsmith.

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