15 Beloved Books You May Have Hated the First Time You Tried Them

Posted by Hayley on August 24, 2017


A book can hook us from the first page, and it can also lose us at any page. We've all abandoned books—it's part of being a reader. But some books deserve a second chance…especially those classics you tried to tackle as a teenager.

We asked on Facebook and Twitter: What's a book you love now but didn't enjoy the first time you read it (or tried to read it)? Check out some of the top answers below!


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Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

"I got to the part with the first dance when Darcy snubbed Elizabeth, and I didn't like him at all—so I quit reading it. I didn't try it again for years."
-Rita


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Guards! Guards!
by Terry Pratchett

"I was a fool who didn't know a good thing slapping her in the face. I learned, though. Oh, I learned."
-Maggie


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I Capture the Castle
by Dodie Smith

"It seems insane to say it now, but I only got a couple of chapters in before abandoning this book. After I had my baby, I picked it up where I had left off and fell in love with it. So much so that after I finished it the first time I went straight back to the first page and read it again. I've read it countless times since."
-Sian


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The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger

"I found this really confusing, and I didn't get why it was jumping all over the place. I abandoned it pretty early on. But this is one of the very rare occasions when I gave a book another go after seeing the film. Now the book is one of my all-time favorites!"
-Kristy


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One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Garbiel García Márquez

"Only after closely observing the eccentricities of generations of my own family did I realize I could relate to this book."
-Punin


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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke

"I started this again in desperation when I ran out of books on holiday and discovered it's a marvelous read."
-Nina


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Julie of the Wolves
by Jean Craighead George

"My dad tried to get me to read it when I was young, and I totally dismissed it. But the copy stayed with me, and I just finished it—it's a beautiful, intense book."
-Aida


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Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy

"I generally enjoy long books and older classics, but I think it was the Russian nicknaming that ruined it the first time for me. Who did what? Levin? Kostya? This time I'm listening to Maggie Gyllenhaal read it and I'm really enjoying it because she offers some differentiation in voice inflection so that I can tell who's talking. Also, I made a name chart."
-Heather


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In the Woods
by Tana French

"The second time I tried this I got the audiobook version. It was so much easier to get the book done this way. I listened when I walked the dog."
-Del


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The Fellowship of the Ring
by J.R.R. Tolkien

"I read it for the first time when I was 12 years old. I read it again when I was 28, and I saw a lot more bits and pieces and history—I enjoyed the story so much more with my 'grown-up' eye."
-Veronique


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Go Down, Moses
by William Faulkner

"It took me a few tries, but once I got to the third story in the book, I couldn't put it down. Now it's one of my all-time favorite books."
-Andrew


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Outlander
by Diana Gabaldon

"I tried starting this book several times, but the first few chapters bored me to tears. I forced myself to stick with it, and once Claire went back in time, I was hooked. I'm so glad I stuck with it because Jamie Fraser is one of my favorite book characters now."
-Briana


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Les Misérables
by Victor Hugo

"There were so many names and French words. I wasn't used to his prose. The second time I read it I opened the book with an open mind and truly fell in love."
-Tina


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Catch-22
by Joseph Heller

"It didn't do it for me at first. I had the wrong mindset. But I tried again a couple of years later, and now I love it dearly."
-Ben


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The Road
by Cormac McCarthy

"The first five (!) times I started reading it I had to put it down. But the sixth time I loved it. Sometimes it pays off to be persistent. LOL! I usually don't try so many times, but this one was on my 'Books to Read Before I Die' list."
-Titti




Do you have your own tale of second-chance book love? Share it with us in the comments?

Check out more recent blogs:
The Season's Hottest Debut Novels
How to Find the Love of Your Life in a Bookstore: The Ray Bradbury Method
The Best Young Adult Books of August


(Top image credit: The 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini-series)

Comments Showing 1-50 of 239 (239 new)


message 1: by Christa (new)

Christa there's a thin line between love and hate. i hated pride and prejudice beyond belief in high school and now it's one of my forever favorites


message 2: by Lori (new)

Lori Oh god no! I LOVED The Road from the very first line!


message 3: by Carolina (new)

Carolina Gonzalez Rayuela de Julio Cortazar, que maldita pesadilla, lo deje donde dijo que ahí podía acabar una historia y no creo retomarlo, simplemente tedioso.
Hopscotch of Julio Cortazar, what a nightmare! drop it at the part he said it could been finish one story and I don't think I want to try read it again anytime soon (pretty sure NEVER)


message 4: by Silvana (new)

Silvana I don't see any reason for disliking Guards! Guards!


message 5: by Carol (new)

Carol Mundie I could never get into outlander books like the series may try the books again sometime see whether i can get into it again. Tried also the time travellers wife but couldnt get into that either but would not give that another go ever i dont think.


message 6: by Tara (new)

Tara The Great Gatsby I read it in high school English, as every high schooler probably did. The sentences were too long and structured funny; I didn't understand subtext and subtlety; and the story and concept of class struggle didn't really resonate with me as a 15-year-old. Having read other Fitzgerald works since then, I gave it another try in my late 20's--when I was about the same age as the characters--and I fell in love with it for all the reasons I hated it before. Tenth grade is too, too young to make this required reading.


message 7: by Nina (new)

Nina Genco On a related topic, theres a list somewhere on the internet of amazin reviews of classics written by students forced to read them it has gems like, "Somebody should put this Marquez guy in solitary for a hundred years."


message 8: by Duarte (new)

Duarte Martinho Naked Lunch looked like word vomit when I first tried to read it.
Only one a more concentrated second reading did I get how brilliant it is.


message 9: by L. (new)

L. McCoy Question: If you hated a book one time you read it, why are you reading it again? That just seems like a huge waste of time.


message 10: by Alissa (new)

Alissa I had to read A Semester In The Life of a Garbage Bag, by Gordon Korman when I was in 7th grade. The author was visiting our middle school and each of the English classes had to read one of his books. At the time, I thought it was stupid.

Several years later, when I was cleaning out my bookshelves, I stumbled upon my copy and re-read it...and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now it is one of my favorites and something I go back to whenever I need a laugh and/or quick pick-me-up.

Think my original reaction had to do with being a stubborn teenager and having to read the book as opposed to reading it by choice.


message 11: by WendyB (new)

WendyB There are simply too many books I want to read to waste time with a second try at books that I didn't like the first time.


message 12: by Robert (new)

Robert I dreaded A Tale of Two Cities in high school, but recently read it at my own slow pace and loved it.


message 13: by Megan (new)

Megan Lavelle Trainor I watched the Outlander series first and then read the books. Knowing how important those first few chapters were to the rest of the story thanks to the show, it was easy to get through the "background" chapters in the first book. (The series storylines don't match the book's, but are still good.) I really liked listening to these books on Audible as they have a terrific reader telling the stories.


message 14: by Tara (new)

Tara L. wrote: "Question: If you hated a book one time you read it, why are you reading it again? That just seems like a huge waste of time."
In my case, it was because I'd seen a play based on This Side of Paradise, and read the book afterward, and was really into it. And read a short story or two of Fitzgerald's, as well. It occurred to me there were several assigned high school reading books that I'd had to reread in college that I appreciated more the second time, so I figured maybe there was something I was missing about Great Gatsby. Plus, it's a short book.


message 15: by Softness (new)

Softness Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell has always been a favorite!!


message 16: by Aurora (new)

Aurora I hated gone with the wind as a teenager, but as an adult i love it!


message 17: by Karla (last edited Aug 24, 2017 09:26AM) (new)

Karla I hated P & P so much when I first tried it that I don't know if I can ever reattempt it. Same goes for Jane Eyre. Even the constant references to Austen & Bronte as fictional characters' favorites continues to make me eyeroll whenever I come across one. I want a heroine in HF or romance who reads penny dreadfuls and trashy American dime novels and thinks Austen & Bronte are dull, dammit. A heroine who speaks to ME. :P

But I tried The Name of the Rose again after many years and that one hooked me on the 2nd try. Didn't hate it the first time, though. Just way too young to appreciate it, I guess.


message 18: by Miko (new)

Miko Pride... I took the F in high school - refused!!!! to read that bilge! A couple of these I have read, more than once as well, but most I've not bothered to read, nor will I.


message 19: by Walkerke (new)

Walkerke Walker I couldn't get through A Tale of Two Cities the first time I tried, but now it's in my top 10. I also regret that I've never made it through Les Miserables. I will keep trying.


message 20: by Julian (new)

Julian Vargas I hated Les Miserables!!!! We had to write so many essays based on it.


message 21: by Kris (new)

Kris Nope, still hate Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell, that woman needed an editor NOT afraid to cut the extra crap and a plot would have been good too.
No forceon Earth could get me to wade into the hot mess of abandonment that is The Time Traveler's Wife.


message 22: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth The Scarlet Letter. I hated this book as a sophomore in high school. Had to read it for a college class and fell in love. It is one of my favorite books now. I try to read it once each year now.


message 23: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Mine was The Night Circus. I started it like 3 times before I got the audio book and I'm still not sure I actually read all of it. Everyone else loved it.


message 24: by Kate (new)

Kate When I read "Jane Eyre" in college, it didn't make any impression on me. I read it almost 15 years later, a few months before I got married, and it blew me away. I've read it twice since, and now give a copy to each of the girls in my life as a 12th Birthday gift/guide to adulthood. My own daughter, now 13, reveres Jane as a model for independence and self-esteem. NB. Also my 86-year-old mother's favorite novel.


message 25: by Heather (new)

Heather Pride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell are both on my "gave up on" list. I made it through The Fellowship of the Ring, but I stopped before I finished The Two Towers. I just... couldn't handle it any more.

Guards! Guards! is on my "to read" list, but I've read other books by that author, so I at least have an idea what I'm getting into there.

I didn't even attempt Outlander. That one was one my sister couldn't finish. If she couldn't read it, I'll never make it through.


message 26: by Heather (new)

Heather L. wrote: "Question: If you hated a book one time you read it, why are you reading it again? That just seems like a huge waste of time."
Sometimes, I just got stubborn about books that were assigned reading in school and decided that I hated them. Other times, I just wasn't ready to read them (mentally, emotionally, etc.), so I hated them the first time I picked them up. Then... there are those times when a book is so well loved, you feel like there's something wrong with you for having not liked it, so you go back and try it again.


message 27: by Heather (new)

Heather The Scarlet Letter was one book that I had to read for a term paper in tenth grade. I could not make myself finish it, even with a paper hanging over my head. I ended up having to get Cliff Notes for it and read those. It was assigned again in eleventh grade and I absolutely loved it that time! I just needed to read at a different pace, I think.


message 28: by Iris (new)

Iris Oh this is easy, Dune, by Frank Herbert. I think I was 14 or 15 when I first picked it up. I thought it was so boring; not at all engrossing or remotely intriguing. But I picked it up again this year and finished it. I respect it now. is it one of my favorites? No, but I'm glad I read it and will readily recommend it to other SciFi fans.


message 29: by T. Renee (new)

T. Renee Doty I tried to read I Capture the Castle when I was in high school, but I wasn't used to books in a journal or letter format, so I set it aside. I tried it again last year (now an older more experienced reader) and it really spoke to me! I love it!


message 30: by Audrey (new)

Audrey Tara wrote: "The Great Gatsby I read it in high school English, as every high schooler probably did. The sentences were too long and structured funny; I didn't understand subtext and subtlety; and t..."

I had to read this in 9th or 10th grade and just didn't get it. Maybe I'll give it another chance.


message 31: by Fariba (new)

Fariba Christa wrote: "there's a thin line between love and hate. i hated pride and prejudice beyond belief in high school and now it's one of my forever favorites"
There's hope for me then. I've tried to Austen works P&P and S&S. Both bored me to tears.


message 32: by Iris (last edited Aug 24, 2017 10:20AM) (new)

Iris Heather wrote: "The Scarlet Letter was one book that I had to read for a term paper in tenth grade. I could not make myself finish it, even with a paper hanging over my head. I ended up having to get ..."

Oh! How could I forget! The Scarlet Letter! Yes! I actually tried reading it in 9th grade, didn't get more than 20 pages in and set it aside, but let everyone think that I read it. Then in 10th grade Easy A came out and Emma Stone shamed me with the line "For those of you who said you did but really didn't," so determined to exit that category, I read the book. It is now one of my all time favorites. Funny how that happens, isn't it?


message 33: by Fariba (new)

Fariba Heather wrote: "The Scarlet Letter was one book that I had to read for a term paper in tenth grade. I could not make myself finish it, even with a paper hanging over my head. I ended up having to get ..."
Yeah. Also, skip the Custom House chapter. It's quite unnecessary. I love The Scarlet Letter.


message 34: by Martha (new)

Martha Those books on the list I've already read I loved from the first time, and some of them I read when I was quite young. That being said, at this point in my life I don't finish what isn't pleasing me. There's too much still to read.


message 35: by Reading Faerie (last edited Aug 24, 2017 10:35AM) (new)

Reading Faerie I felt this way about Twilight. The first timed I picked it up, I was like "meh". But then a friend of mine said how much she liked it, so I tried it again. I got past chapter three, and I was hooked for the whole series. It's now a guilty pleasure of mine.
: )

I agree that people who don't give some books a second try can miss out on something great!


message 36: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Furtado I really didn't enjoy "Wuthering Heights" on the first go, but I am hoping to give it another try because it just seems like the type of book that I would normally love.


message 37: by Ornella (new)

Ornella The first chapters of Outlander bored me too to be honest. Luckily I knew beforehand that it gets better once you're done with them so I didn't even think to quit reading it.


message 38: by Audrey (new)

Audrey I love Wuthering Heights now.


message 39: by Kristin (new)

Kristin Walcott Figueroa ER wrote: "The Scarlet Letter. I hated this book as a sophomore in high school. Had to read it for a college class and fell in love. It is one of my favorite books now. I try to read it once each year now."

I am with you on this one. I hated this book in high school. But I had to read it again in college and loved it!


message 40: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White. Must have tried to read it 3 times over the years. Finally gave up and read his book The Moonstone instead and fell in love. I tried again with the Woman in White and persevered. It is quite a gem.


message 41: by Tobias (new)

Tobias Zielinski Me too ;D I was hooked


message 42: by Karla (new)

Karla I loved both Scarlet Letter & The Odyssey in school despite the teacher being a terrible authoritarian creepy perv, so a testament that the failed instruction didn't tarnish the literature.


message 43: by JoAnn (new)

JoAnn Usually I'm a fast reader and love a long book, but it's taken 6 months to slog through half of Les Misérables. It's SOOOO wordy and has many sections where I wonder "what is the point of this?" Still I loved the play and am trying my best to get through it. I hated Anna Karenina, I suppose because I despised the character. I saw nothing redeeming in her.


message 44: by Yi-nien (new)

Yi-nien Lai Carolina wrote: "Rayuela de Julio Cortazar, que maldita pesadilla, lo deje donde dijo que ahí podía acabar una historia y no creo retomarlo, simplemente tedioso.
Hopscotch of Julio Cortazar, what a nightmare! drop ..."


Can't agree more!


message 45: by Rachel (new)

Rachel The first time I read The Red Badge of Courage, in college, I thought it was the most boring book ever written. I read it again a few years ago to see if it was as boring as I remembered. The second time I read it, though I can't say I loved it, I did appreciate what the author was trying to say about the futility of war. That all went over my head the first time I read it.


message 46: by The Batman (new)

The Batman L. wrote: "Question: If you hated a book one time you read it, why are you reading it again? That just seems like a huge waste of time."

Because tastes change and because one's dislike of a book could be the result off a misconception or preconceived prejudice.


message 47: by Brooklyn (last edited Aug 24, 2017 11:43AM) (new)

Brooklyn Regeneration The Regeneration Trilogy I still haven't been able to read Pride & Prejudice -and now I've tried 3 times - bores me to tears even though I have many friends who love it and Austen. I put down War & Peace and never picked it up - the endless battle scenes wore me out - I'm willing to try it with a different translation (it made a difference in Anna Karenina).

I put down Vanity Fair, and absolutely loved it second time round. I dragged myself through Regeneration by Pat Barker (and trilogy) and reread as well as rest of trilogy and loved. I read Return of the Native in college and hated and then reread recently and loved. I couldn't get through the first chapter of Name of the Rose (that damned description of the cathedral doors) - and then retried another time (knowing I had to replow through that chapter) and loved it.

I have learned now if I am not feeling a book the first 50 pages or so - to put it down and MAYBE try again later - I just wasn't in the mood or had too much on my mind.


message 48: by Linda (new)

Linda Doggett Neuromancer by William Gibson was highly recommended to me by a friend and I tried, several times, to read it. It seemed so gloomy I just couldn't handle it! Once I did, of course, it became a favorite.


message 49: by Marta (new)

Marta Barrales I'm afraid I'll never like The Time Traveler's Wife no matter how many chances I give it :(


message 50: by Marble82 (new)

Marble82 Never made it through "The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen and tried a few times. I put it in the yard sale!


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