Monday, December 29, 2008

Books I Wish I Never Read

As a book reviewer, I have the choice of my reading material. But in my younger years I was forced to read books I never would have willingly chosen, and there are times when I think back to those years and wonder how I ever developed such a love for reading after enduring such titles as these:

* Lord of the Flies by William Golding - This book tops my list of books I wish I never read. Forced to stomach this material as a freshman in high school, I honestly could never understand why people think this book is so great. Even though TIME Magazine declared in 2005 that this book was one of the 10 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present, I found Lord of the Flies to be the stuff that nightmares are made of and it's certainly a reader's nightmare.

* The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Another title that is popular high school reading material, I spent most of the time totally confused as I tried to figure out what was really going on. Daisy grates on my nerves, people are happily sleeping with people who aren't their spouses, and the utter decadence portrayed in this novel would make me keep it away from my children until they turned 25. I must have been 14 or 15 when I read it and I am still pondering why I needed to.

* Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Raleigh - I wonder if the passing of time would make me enjoy this book any more. Honestly, when I attempted to read this, it was the worst time in my life: my mother had cancer and by this point we knew she was dying, so reading was not high on my list. My European History teacher could not quite understand my lack of desire, however, and I failed most of the tests for Ivanhoe. Though I might try reading this one again, it remains right now a book I could find absolutely no interest in.

* All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque was another title my European History teacher foisted upon us. Paul Baumer, is the narrator of this story about Paul and his classmates, who enlist in the German Army during World War I and experience all the insanities of war. This is another title that I might enjoy more as an adult than when I read it as a 14-year-old girl, but World War I has never been my favorite time period to read about, so I'm not sure my feelings would change. But this author is worthy of admiration since he is a veteran and his experiences must have influenced the writing of the book.

Feel free to share your comments on these books or any others you might have read that didn't live up to your expectations.


Kim Smith said...

The Iliad and the Odyssey and Gulliver's Travels... eeek.

Cheryl said...

Oh yeah, Odyssey didn't do it for me either.


Anonymous said...

I had to read The Lord of the Flies twice. Once in middle school, once in high school (the first time, they told us they were assigning it because we wouldn't have to read it in high school... lies!).

Others include The Death of Artemio Cruz, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and The Heart of Darkness. In fact, I disliked most of the IB English reading, except for the Shakespeare (Hamlet and MacBeth, I think) and some of the ones where they gave us a bit of a choice.