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Other Hot Book Discussions > I re-read The Great Gatsby. Was I drunk before? *spoilers*

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message 1: by Mary (new)

Mary (MaryBT) | 336 comments I read The Great Gatsby in high school (about 17 years ago). I remember that I LOVED that book. Recently, someone made a reference to it and I realized that the only details I remembered were the eyes on the billboard and Gatsby's parties. I didn't even remember that Gatsby died. So I re-read it this weekend.

That book was depressing as he11 and the characters were horrible people! WHY did I like that book so much?!

Does this ever happen to you? I'm so disillusioned. lol.


message 2: by Megan (new)

Megan  (trixieKitten) | 46 comments Mary, yes. I loved that book in HS too, but all I remember is that he kills himself and he obsessed about a green light. And this was 11 years ago... I wanted to see the movie of it because I love the director, but if it's just about a bunch of annoying, horrible rich people I might reconsider. I wanted to re-read it too, now maybe not so much. Times change though, maybe back in HS we were just used to everyone being a jerk and loved parties?


Elizabeth (Alaska) I think you should label the title to this thread "includes spoilers."


message 4: by Mary (new)

Mary (MaryBT) | 336 comments Elizabeth - I changed it. I didn't think about the spoilers since I thought everyone read it in high school. lol.

TrixieKitten - I had it in my head that he killed himself too (why did we think that), but he didn't.

Maybe you're right - we were just used to everyone acting like jerks. haha.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I have read it, but it most certainly was not something offered to me in high school. I think Fitzgerald was probably considered inappropriate for people my age.


message 6: by Mandy (new)

Mandy | 251 comments you know, i hated this book when i read it in high school. and i've wondered for a long time if i would like it now if i read it. i think you've answered my question! :*D


message 7: by Dimity (new)

Dimity | 87 comments I read it on my own when I was around high school age because we didn't read it in my school and I distinctly remembering hating it. I don't remember much of the details anymore but the lingering sense of hating all the characters and thinking the story was just generally stupid remains. The classical cover is awesome but I don't know why it's so popular. Another classic read I didn't like in high school was Frankenstein. It totally seemed to me like bad pop literature that had somehow remained popular for a century and a half, but not really a legitimate "classic" to me.


message 8: by Sherin (last edited Dec 08, 2011 07:51AM) (new)

Sherin Punnilath (Shery_7) | 3158 comments I read it very recently and liked it.
I'm from the opposite side of the globe& this book's not part of our syllabus ;)

It has a mix of characters which seemed real enough to me.
(Unlike many other classics) more than the gaieties of the parties and rich life, it concentrated on the fate of Gatsby whom people resent and insult even while they’re enjoying his hospitality! He was always totally alone in a crowd.

His selfless love and what he gets in return, the way his father feels how important a man his son has become followed by his unpopular funeral, the way he comes to riches and doesn’t even have a single person by his side,his childhood diary,Daisy's dilemma in choosing Darcy over Tom etc. made the novel realistic.

Though I 'm never going to reread it, I definitely liked the book.


message 9: by Mary (new)

Mary (MaryBT) | 336 comments The fact that no one came to the funeral and the dad kept looking for people broke my heart.


Jayme(the ghost reader) (JaymeILtheghostreader) | 4461 comments I only read it the once in HS and I don't remember much about it anymore.


message 11: by Julie (new)

Julie (julmille) | 389 comments It must not have been a memorable one for me in high school. I think I hated it, but I have had it on my TBR pile forever. I remember loving books from high school...Grapes of Wrath, Huck Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men...wonder why they make us read Gatsby if everyone seems to hate it?


message 12: by Lori (new)

Lori Baldi | 184 comments NOT everyone hates Gatsby! And the whole idea of reading books in high school is to broaden the mind, right? How would we know what literature is if we aren't made to focus on it at some point in our lives? My personal experience in school was that I read absolutely NOTHING that was asked of me -- and I was a reader then too! But I wanted to read me easy stuff. Like Harlequin romances and other series reads. The literature that we were asked to read was skimmed through and I was able to squeak through the exams. And I usually say "I've read that". But for some reason Gatsby was a book that I really read and "Got". The Steinbecks, Twains, Tolstoys & Harper Lee books got the skim by me.


message 13: by Mary (last edited Dec 08, 2011 08:13AM) (new)

Mary (MaryBT) | 336 comments I have re-read Grapes of Wrath, Huck Finn, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Of Mice and Men. I enjoyed all of them the first time through and even more the second time. Actually, I re-read Huck Finn every few years and each time I get even more out of it because I develop more life experience and see it through different eyes. I read it to my daughter when she was a baby and there were times I was laughing so hard I could barely read!

It's just funny how our tastes and outlooks develop and change over time.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Lori, I was a skimmer, too. Or sometimes just listened to class discussion.

I don't seem to remember most of my high school reading assignments, but forgive me, because my 50th reunion will be coming up in a few years. I do remember Huck Finn, but I also remember Macbeth and A Tale of Two Cities, which was one of the skippers, but read in my 20s and loved.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I never liked The Great Gatsby... I didn't root for any of the characters, very reflective of F.Scott Fitzgerald's companions in real life. They disgusted me.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Ok, so do you have to like the characters to like the book? Is it possible that a book can be well-written and be full of persons with little redeeming value? Can reading about persons with little redeeming value let you see your own life (and loves) differently?


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Honestly, Elizabeth, I don't care for fiction with this motif, I can gain so much more by reading about real life.


message 18: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Dec 08, 2011 07:24PM) (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) I think Gatsby was about real life. That doesn't mean you have to like it. I've read some books about real life that I detested. Mudbound comes to mind, and that was one where almost no one had any redeeming value. But I thought the question might provoke an interesting discussion.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, it is an interesting discussion, but when I mention real life, I meant a non-fiction or historical book as opposed to a fictionalized account of the Roaring Twenties. I'm not saying that one can learn from fiction because it many times a reflection of the world at that moment, but I just prefer non-fiction pieces when it comes to reading about unethical people. I may be biased though since I went to college for history. ;)


Elizabeth (Alaska) Ah, well, the non-fiction I've encountered has mostly been sanitized, white-washed, and rarely reflects what happened unless you read multiple accounts of the same incident. Sort of like eye-witnesses to an accident - if you have 25 people, you'll get 25 versions.


message 21: by Sherin (last edited Dec 08, 2011 10:07PM) (new)

Sherin Punnilath (Shery_7) | 3158 comments Jennifer wrote: "I never liked The Great Gatsby... I didn't root for any of the characters, very reflective of F.Scott Fitzgerald's companions in real life. They disgusted me."

Even I didn't like most of the characters (Except Nick and occasionally,Gatsby).
For me,it was a good novel with not-so-good/vile characters.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "Ah, well, the non-fiction I've encountered has mostly been sanitized, white-washed, and rarely reflects what happened unless you read multiple accounts of the same incident. Sort of like eye-witnes..."

That is a shame... :(


message 23: by Mary (new)

Mary (MaryBT) | 336 comments Oh, yes. The book was well-written. And I think it's possible to learn something from it - off the top of my head, I think it's very telling how the selfishness of Tom and Daisy effected the lives of so many people around them. You don't have to be intentionally evil directly to a person to effect them in a negative way.

It just depressed me and I don't know why I always remembered it with such fondness. lol.


message 24: by Sherin (new)

Sherin Punnilath (Shery_7) | 3158 comments Mary wrote: "Oh, yes. The book was well-written. And I think it's possible to learn something from it - off the top of my head, I think it's very telling how the selfishness of Tom and Daisy effected the live..."

Same with me,Mary.. :)


message 25: by Mandy (new)

Mandy | 251 comments Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "Ok, so do you have to like the characters to like the book? Is it possible that a book can be well-written and be full of persons with little redeeming value? Can reading about persons with little ..."

Elizabeth, that is a question I have often asked myself. And for me, the question is mostly, yes, I DO need to like (or be able to identify with) at least the narrator or main character to enjoy the book.

For example, I really disliked Gatsby and that made me dislike the book. I didn't identify with the kid in The Catcher in the Rye, so I didn't much like the book. I found Lavinia in The Kitchen House to be weak and too subservient, and it really detracted from my enjoyment of that book. Maybe this phenomenon is why I also wasn't crazy about Room when so many people adored it.

Contrast that with my enjoyment of Little Bee and The Hunger Games (both with strong female protagonists) and it is clear that who is telling the story - or the character from whose perspective the story is written - has a big impact on me.

Can't say whether this is a bad thing. I think I might enjoy more literature if this weren't the case. But I accept that this is true for me. Is it true for any of you?


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

It is true for me too and I can still learn a great deal about time periods and social interactions and the psychology of people without subjecting myself to books or movies that I know I won't enjoy.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I've thought about this since I asked the question. I'm not absolutely certain what makes me either like or dislike a book. I prefer characterization over plot, but I know I don't have to like the characters to like the book. I think I just have to find it all believable.


message 28: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments Jennifer wrote: "Oh, it is an interesting discussion, but when I mention real life, I meant a non-fiction or historical book as opposed to a fictionalized account of the Roaring Twenties. I'm not saying that one c..."

Hey Jennifer since you're a history major, I'd love some biography or autobiography recs if you don't mind. Since this is off-topic, feel free to email me at violetsme@gmail.com if you want! Thanks.


message 29: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments I didn't read this book until recently but I liked it not one bit. I do not understand the hype. I prefer classics out of England, the American ones don't do a whole lot for me as a rule (and I'm American).


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Laura wrote: "Jennifer wrote: "Oh, it is an interesting discussion, but when I mention real life, I meant a non-fiction or historical book as opposed to a fictionalized account of the Roaring Twenties. I'm not ..."

Laura, I haven't read too many biographies, I read more about historical events.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "I've thought about this since I asked the question. I'm not absolutely certain what makes me either like or dislike a book. I prefer characterization over plot, but I know I don't have to like the ..."

A merited question with different answers from everyone :)
I don't care for characters that I can't relate to or poorly developed plots. I also prefer a healthy balance of description and dialogue. As for genre, I don't tend to read a great deal outside of my preferred genre (i.e. haven't read a great deal of romance or sci-fi).


Elizabeth (Alaska) Right, Jennifer! There is no "right" answer to my question, which I think is fortunate. If we all liked the same things, I think we would all be impoverished.


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Isn't that the truth and who knows, we may learn a thing or two along the way :)


message 34: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2526 comments Mod
Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "Ok, so do you have to like the characters to like the book? Is it possible that a book can be well-written and be full of persons with little redeeming value? Can reading about persons with little ..."

I don't have to like the characters but I have to be able to identify with them in someway. I didn't care for Olive in Olive Kitteridge but I identified with her in someways so I think that is why I liked the book. I don't know if I like plot over character or character over plot I just like to feel like I can connect or relate to what I'm reading. Even if it's about a place I've never met with people of a different time or background I think when I find a connection even in a fantasy I will see it through and hopefully like it.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Poor Olive. She was so unlikeable.


message 36: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments Aw......I loved Olive. Does that make me a weirdo? lol


message 37: by Nancy (NE) (new)

Nancy (NE) | 1210 comments Olive was pretty unlikeable, but I loved her anyway. There was so much dimension to her character and she held so much redemption by the end. To me that was a strength of the writing - to make her one you could still connect with and not like at the same time.


message 38: by Nicolette (new)

Nicolette (cocopuff09120) This board makes me sad. It seems like a lot of people are basing whether or not they will read it/read it again off of the opinions of others. "The Great Gatsby" is a classic for a reason. It is full of symbolism and a lot of other valuable literary devices. If you decided that you don't like it, maybe try reading it with that in mind. You might notice a lot more that you didn't see before. Give it another shot!


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

Nah, I've read it twice and didn't like it either time.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Nicolette wrote: "This board makes me sad. It seems like a lot of people are basing whether or not they will read it/read it again off of the opinions of others. "The Great Gatsby" is a classic for a reason. "

Yes it is. It's the opinions of others.


message 41: by Nicolette (new)

Nicolette (cocopuff09120) Jennifer, that's not exactly what I mean. I'm not saying that people have to like it. I'm saying to try to look at it differently. A lot of people are talking about how they don't like it because they hate the characters. But if you think about it, it seems that the point is that they basically suck at life. Some books are great because they show you how to live life, others are great because they show you how not to.


message 42: by Nancy (NE) (new)

Nancy (NE) | 1210 comments Nicolette! Well said! Good point.


message 43: by Nicolette (new)

Nicolette (cocopuff09120) Thanks, Love!


message 44: by Nicolette (new)

Nicolette (cocopuff09120) (p.s. I just joined this book club! I hope to get to know everyone and have great discussions. If you want to know more about me I posted on the board for introductions today!)


message 45: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3120 comments Mod
Nicolette wrote: "This board makes me sad. It seems like a lot of people are basing whether or not they will read it/read it again off of the opinions of others. "The Great Gatsby" is a classic for a reason."

Hi Nicolette. Welcome to Chicks On Lit! We are happy to have you join us. :o)

I just wanted to comment a little about your remark that this thread was making you sad, because of the negative comments some were posting about The Great Gatsby. I checked out your bookshelves, and see you have rated this book 5-stars, so apparently you love this book. :o)

One of the great things about discussions in this group though is that it is okay, acceptable, and even encouraged for people to discuss books whether they love them, or whether they hate them. All opinions are welcome.

I also noticed on your shelf that there are books you rate 1-star, which means you didn't like them. Books such as The Catcher in the Rye, The Giving Tree, Mrs. Dalloway, and Twilight. I'm sure there are many members of this group who have rated these books 5-star, so in all honesty, loving or hating books is all a matter of personal opinion. And if there was a discussion thread on any of those books, you would be welcomed to comment as to why you didn't like them. All opinions are always welcome.

So please don't feel sad that some members didn't like a book you love. The longer you are a member, the more you are going to see a huge range of feelings about all books from our members. And we welcome that here. Love a book, hate a book, it doesn't matter. You are welcome to discuss the book. :o)

And again, welcome to Chicks on Lit.


message 46: by Nicolette (new)

Nicolette (cocopuff09120) Oh, it's not that at all! I'm sorry if I came across that way. I more felt that people should give books a try before saying that they don't want to read them. I choose books that I like because of literary value. I was just suggesting that people should try looking at the book from that perspective. To me, discussions are designed to share opinions and to listen to the opinions of others. I was just trying to point out that it can be read from other perspectives.


message 47: by Mary (new)

Mary (MaryBT) | 336 comments The comment came across as pretty holier-than-thou. I'm sure you didn't mean it that way, tone can be very difficult to interpret on a message board.

Just because something is a "classic" doesn't mean that everyone who ever reads it will get anything out of it. I've read many classics which I adored and some that made me want to barf. My enjoyment or non-enjoyment of a book really has nothing to do with if I grasped the concept of the symbolism or not; I'm not an unintelligent person.


message 48: by Nicolette (new)

Nicolette (cocopuff09120) I'm sorry about that. I was just meaning that you can look at it straight forward with the plot, or deeper. I don't think that the way that you choose to read something has to do with your intelligence. Quite often I just don't feel like reading that way and only want to read for pleasure. I'm also not trying to say that you didn't read it that way, I was just making a suggestion.


message 49: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Dec 21, 2011 09:53AM) (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) You wanted people to discount the opinions of others.

It seems like a lot of people are basing whether or not they will read it/read it again off of the opinions of others.

My comment above was that people who liked it have an opinion, too, but you seem not to want those opinions discounted. You will see, after being here awhile, that I read a fair amount of classics. I don't like them all, but I do like a goodly number of them. In any case, all of us use varying methods for choosing the books we read. The opinions of others - good or bad - can be one of the criteria we use.


message 50: by Mary (new)

Mary (MaryBT) | 336 comments Nicolette wrote: "I'm sorry about that. I was just meaning that you can look at it straight forward with the plot, or deeper. I don't think that the way that you choose to read something has to do with your intellig..."

No need to be sorry. Like I said, I'm sure you didn't intend for it to come across that way. It was just a bit of a shock to the system. lol. (I have the same problem because I have a terribly dry sense of humor which comes across fine in person, but doesn't always translate in writing.)


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Books mentioned in this topic

Mudbound (other topics)
The Catcher in the Rye (other topics)
Little Bee (other topics)
The Kitchen House (other topics)
The Hunger Games (other topics)
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