Thursday, September 29, 2005

Books I Hated

I'm one of those people who reads "The Reader's Digest" in the bathroom. Once, for fun, I decided to read a novel, but only in the bathroom, when nature called. I read the newspaper almost every day. I scan cereal boxes, junk mail and the fine print. My two bedroom bookshelves hold hundreds of books, but that doesn't stop me from browsing the bookshelves at thrift stores, hoping to score more books for less money. My policy is to read the book before I see the movie, but if that strategy fails, I read the book after I see the movie. (Sometimes the changes in plot are jarring.)

I just love books. I like the papery smell, the weight of a volume in my hands, the promise of pages unread. The first job I really desperately wanted was at the public library. (My brother got the job and I went on to work at Taco Time. I'm not bitter. Much.)

I have hated a few books in my day, though. Without further ado, I present a short list of books I have hated.

Waiting to Exhale. I threw this book away when I finished reading it. The movie was entertaining, but I recall despising the writing in this book.

Bridges of Madison County. Someone told me that someone she knew considered this the worst book ever written. So I had to read it. Again, the movie was beautiful--the plot itself is fine, but the writing . . . horrible. And laughable.

Four Blondes. A truly awful book. I'm just glad I only paid a quarter for it at a garage sale.

The Beans of Egypt, Maine. I bought this book while living in Connecticut when my husband was in graduate school. I attempted to read it three separate times and carted it across the country to the Pacific Northwest, then over to Michigan, then back to the Pacific Northwest. I tried again and again to like this book, to plow through it. Finally, I stuffed it into a box of books destined for Goodwill.

Boy, do I feel better now that I've confessed. I'm a hater.

On the other hand, I am against banning books. Did you know it's "Banned Books Week"?

(Update: I should clarify. I am against the general banning of books in our society. That doesn't mean I think every book should be in every school library across America. And I also believe in family book banning--that is, in my family, I reserve the right to monitor, censor and ban certain books, just as I do movies and music.)

15 Comments:

Blogger Elizabeth said...

If your 12 year-old, public school student came home with 'Naked Lunch' or 'American Psycho' or 'Awakening The Virgin: True Tales of (Lesbian) Seduction' that he/she found in the school library, this would be ok with you?

Considering you have concerns with age appropriate material I would think you might be one of the 'book challengers' that the website refers to.

I, personally, wouldn't care if my son read any of those books but I can understand why some parents wouldn't want them in the school library. I think banning a book from a school library is much different than banning a book from the public at large.

4:46 AM  
Blogger Darla said...

I must disagree with you on the book Bridges of Madison County. Loved the book and movie. On the other hand the book I hate is Cold Mountain this book was long, boring and just a horrible read. The movie was okay, I guess. I'm with you on reading though, it is a great pleasure.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Julana said...

I hate books that leave violent, ugly images in my mind that it takes me weeks to forget. These are usually mysteries I pick up in search of a puzzle and a thrill, and only get through the first few chapters.

I also dislike/hate books that put me inside the mind of a criminal.

I hated James Joyce's Ulysses, at least the parts I had to read for class. I don't like stream-of- consciousness books.

5:50 AM  
Anonymous jennie said...

I remember begging everyone in my high school English class to NEVER read Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. I gave a book report on it and said it was the worst book I had ever read. I've always wondered if I would like it better now, but I'm too afraid to pick it up again.

6:10 AM  
Blogger tab said...

IMO banning books is generally not a good thing. However, keeping books that are not "age-appropriate" out of the "school" library is different.

It's been too long since I've read novels or books just for fun.

Worst books that come to mind that I have read are "The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy" (her attitude towards pregnancy and birth are horrid and most of what she writes is her opinion which I feel is completely uneducated) and "What to Expect While Your Expecting" (this title should be more like "how to be a nonthinking, turn every decision over for someone else to decide and not look at your options pregnant woman").

6:14 AM  
Blogger Sis said...

I too hated Four Blondes. Thankfully I saved myself a quarter and checked it out of the library. I should have done the world a favor and lost it ;)

6:42 AM  
Anonymous mopsy said...

_Bless Me, Ultima_ is #1 on my list of books I hate.

I would never ban it, though.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Perhaps wrt Elizabeth's comment more than anyhting.

Every teacher, school, and school board bans books, but in an unofficial way. What I am saying is that we are all our own censorship board. I guess when the topic of banning books hits the headlines, it's usually about some people wanting to ban books that others, probably the majority, think are fine. Harry Potter for instance. So, I think the books that E mentions would not make it onto the shelves in the first place (I trust) and wouldn't be subject to some sort of hearing. (I think I'm finding it hard to express my point today, so I'll quit while I'm only somewhat behind.)

7:48 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

Mel, I used to work in a library. I got hired as a page and then got promoted to the person who stands behind the counter and checks your books out for you.

Other than the fact that I was surrounded by books and could pretty much grab anything I wanted, it basically boiled down to working with the public. Which almost always sucks. Oh, that and endless alphabetizing and numerizing....

But perhaps it didn't suck as much as working at Taco Time, I have to agree.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Taco Time? Hahahaha. Did they have little Taco Time hats and Taco Time polyester uniforms? Were you a good taco maker? Did you spit in people's tacos?

Anvilcloud...yes, I agree. School libraries wouldn't have those books to begin with. Public libraries might. So I suppose the question is, do you ban them from public libraries? If taxpayers sustain libraries then should they contain books suitable for all ages and tastes? Should there be an adult section?

I think generally when it comes to book banning, it has everything to do with public funds and some people not wanting their tax dollars spent on books that they deem immoral etc. Book banning doesn't really cross over into the realm of free enterprise although I understand that it's illegal to sell books about homosexuality in Canada which I find weird considering homosexuals can get married in Canada.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Ugh. "The Beans of Egypt, Maine" is on my 'hate' list too. I paid a dime for mine.

I've never been able to understand the reason for the ban on Catherine Paterson's book "Bridge to Tarabithia".

I banned my children from certain books. Those that I knew would keep me up with them at night. I'm selfish that way.

I have a beloved copy of "And Ladies of the Club" that has soooo many errors in the last quarter of it that I nearly broke out into hives. Wrong names, bad grammer, loads of obvious errors in editing - REALLY unbelievable. That bugs me to no end.

I also have a bad relationship with a book on books that lists a particular book as 'fifth in the trilogy'. Come on! How stupid is that???

10:53 AM  
Blogger elswhere said...

As a school librarian, I struggle with the issue of censorship all the time. I personally feel there's no such thing as universal age-appropriateness-- it depends on the family and on what the individal kid is interested in and can handle. But in my job, I go with generally-accepted notions about particular books' age-appropriateness when selecting books for the library. It's tricky, because there's not always a consensus. Sometimes I feel like a censor, which I hate, especially when middle-school kids ask me about books that I know are fine for them but that I've decided are too mature for inclusion in a K-8 library.

For public libraries, the general line is that parents are in charge, which means that parents can decide that a book's not okay for *their* kid, but can't make that decision for *everyone's* kid. You'd be surprised how many people don't get that.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

That's what I don't get about book banning: if you don't like it, don't read it. Don't let your kids read it. But don't tell ME or MY KIDS not to read it.

As for books I hate: UGH! Bridges of Madison COunty gets my worst book ever award, hands down. Also hated Cold Mountain. OH, and The Confederacy of Dunces. I never could get through that one, and I didn't find it funny, and to this day I absolutely do not understand why it is so well received.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Hmmm E, I am not aware of books on homosexuality being banned. Because I don't know, I'm not going to claim anything for sure, but I rather doubt that this is so. Certainly anything that smack of child porn is taboo, but I doubt that we're unique in that.

I imagine that public libraries also have their own criteria of taste. So, once again, for the most part, we are probably left with books that are on the fringe -- accepted by most but not by all.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Vashti said...

I didn't care for Bridges of Madison County either. I agree with one of your readers...I've also never been able to get through Mrs. Dalloway, although I loved The Hours.

7:51 PM  

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