Books I Loathed discussion

What was I thinking?

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message 1: by Vanessa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:46AM) (new)

Vanessa | 42 comments I was just wondering if any of you have a book (or books) that you once thought was wonderful/mind-blowing/life changing when you first read it - but upon reading it at a later date your opinion of it took a 180 (or even 98) degree turn?

One that springs to mind for me is "Illusions" by Richard Bach. Admitedly, I was 13 years old when I read it for the first time, but I thought it was so incredibly profound at the time. When I read it again years later I actually felt my cheeks burn to remember how many people I'd raved about it to.

Anyone else?

message 2: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:46AM) (new)

Jessica I feel like that about pretty much all Tom Robbins. Oy.

message 3: by Jordan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:46AM) (new)

Jordan | 10 comments Oh, one shameful name that hangs over a couple of my adolescent years like a rotting shroud: Ayn Rand.

message 4: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:46AM) (new)

Alex (alexinmadison) | 64 comments Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castenda. Of course, I was high all through high-school so that explains a lot.

Tom Robbins. Although Another Roadside Attraction has sentimental value (see comment about being high above.)

message 5: by Christina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:46AM) (new)

Christina | 17 comments Here is my ultimate shame...

Terry Brooks Shanara books: Elfstones; Sword; and Song.

These were my first forays into fantasy literature. At the time I loved them. Now, I cringe in shame. No slight to those who still enjoy it, I can't really take the fantasy genre right now.

Maybe by changing jobs I can enjoy the genre again...

message 6: by Kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:46AM) (new)

Kate (katiebobus) | 136 comments Mod
LOL. I was just writing my review of Illusions and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, both of which I adored as a child, only to grow up and find that they are shmaltzy new-age crap.

I'm relieved to hear people outgrow Tom Robbins.

message 7: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 31, 2007 10:05AM) (new)

Catcher In The Rye

The first time I read it, I was 17, and I loved it. I thought it was hilarious. Used it as the basis for an English term paper I did in college.

Second time through I was in my 30's. Thought Holden was an insufferable little brat who needed some tough love and suspension of his allowance.

Third time was just a few months ago. Holden is pathetic but funny in that way teenagers who can often come up with a unique insight or two are clever. Made me more sad than anything else though.

message 8: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:47AM) (new)

Alex (alexinmadison) | 64 comments I had a similar reaction to Catcher in the Rye after I re-read it in my early thirties. Makes me wonder if Salinger's intention was to write a book that would resonate with (and inspire) teenagers or to write a book that would show adults what a git Holden was.

message 9: by Kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:47AM) (new)

Kate (katiebobus) | 136 comments Mod
Just a side note on CITR: One of my favorite books, the young adult novel "Celine" by Brock Cole, has some hilarious insights by the titular character on dear Holden. I never read CITR because of this book.

message 10: by Vanessa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:47AM) (new)

Vanessa | 42 comments I didn't read CITR until I was 30 and found it to be completely forgettable, and the main character to be a whiny little rich kid that I didn't gnat's prostate about. Perhaps If I'd read it at 15 I would have thought it was life-changing.

message 11: by Hope (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:47AM) (new)

Hope | 3 comments I read CITR when I was 16 or 17, and even then couldn't stand Holden.

But my real shame comes from "The Dive From Clausen's Pier" by Ann Packer. I read it when I was 20, and coming off a melodramatic relationship. I devoured it, and described it to my father as "so good I want to tear the pages out and roll around in them." I related so strongly to the main character. Then I bought it for a friend for Christmas, and decided to re-read it at 22, and I was so ashamed I had forced someone else to read it. Not that it was awful but I desperately wanted to slap some sense into Carrie, the main character, and I wanted to go back and slap some sense into my 20 year-old self!

message 12: by Christen (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:48AM) (new)

Christen | 61 comments Ok so when I was in high school I read John Irving books like crazy...I thought he was a genius. Especially The World According to Garp.

Then I grew up. And I tried to read his stuff again and realized that he's a mysogenist and an arrogant ass. And all of his books, every single one of them, the same elements. It's not a series, John. And he elevates novel writing to the status of like cancer research. I know books can change people's lives, but they probably can't save them. So now I am ashamed. So very ashamed.

message 13: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:48AM) (new)

Jessica Oh yes, John Irving, good one. Bears and rape, rape and bears. Except for when it's incest, bears, and Vienna.

message 14: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Carol | 8 comments There are SOO many books that I loved in my teens/twenties that I know if I re-read them, I won't like them anymore. So that's my dilemna - should I re-read stuff, or use that time to read new books?

But I do know that I have re-read some beat poetry recently, and my initial reaction was "go get a job or volunteer, you big *^$*#*# whiners!"

message 15: by Christen (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Christen | 61 comments In my experience, it's best to let pleasant memories lie. If you go back, and you end up not liking it, you'll feel the shame I feel. Shame is never fun. I vote for moving on.

message 16: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Alex (alexinmadison) | 64 comments Sherri - kinda like spinach or brussel sprouts. I still hate liver though unless it's liverwurst.

message 17: by Kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Kate (katiebobus) | 136 comments Mod
Carol, I sometimes think that Dave Eggers and his ilk weren't born but rather sprung from the collective head of the Beat Generation. They all need to quit showing off and do something useful.

message 18: by Kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Kate (kate-schmate) Speaking of Eggers & co., I went through a pretty shameful phase of loving A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I was 18, getting back into reading after the odd blip in my life that was high school, and, inevitably, feeling certain that I was meant to be a writer (ah, college). I read the Eggers book and thought, "I could do this!" How true. Who couldn't?

message 19: by Andy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Andy | 2 comments Charles Bukowski. What a miserable human being.

message 20: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:51AM) (new)

Carol | 8 comments thanks folks - what I think I'll do is just choose one or two to re-read...and see what happens from there. I doubt that I'll ever re-read say "A Separate Peace" but I do think I'll try "A Catcher in the Rye" again. Maybe that's all I try!

I did a similar thing with the movie "Last Tango in Paris" - watching in first in my early 20s, then in my 30s, and most recently in my 40s. In my 20's I related to Maria Schneider's character, in my 30's to Brando's, and the last time I saw the whole picture.

message 21: by Linda (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:51AM) (new)

Linda I loved Little Women as a girl and reread it devotedly. I read everything by Alcott that I could find at the library. Then I re-read several in my twenties, and was really annoyed by all the moralizing and goody-two-shoes-ness of it all. I found it so cloying! I didn't even notice that as a kid.

Regarding The Dive from Clausen's Pier: I read it in my early thirties and I really loved it. After reading Hope's comment, I wonder what I would have thought in my early twenties. The protaganist probably would have annoyed me-- I would have wanted a tougher, stronger heroine. But I just had such compassion for this girl caught up in circumstances that must have been so overwhelming to a teen.

message 22: by Christen (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:51AM) (new)

Christen | 61 comments Linda you just reminded me of my Anne of Green Gables phase...yeah I even read some of the later ones and some of her other series as well. Shame! But here I have to make a little confession: I just love romance. It's hard wired into me or something. So when you give me someone pining for someone else, forget about it.

Of course later in the Anne series when Anne and Gilbert are happily married and have been for like ever, she tries to throw a little hiccup in by having Gilbert chatting with this attractive woman at a dinner party. The hiccup was just a ploy though. I saw right through it. Anne and Gilbert weren't going anywhere.

message 23: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:51AM) (new)

Alex (alexinmadison) | 64 comments Oh... Bukowski. Totally miserable human being. However, if you watch the documentary "Born Into This" you get a whole new flavor of miserable because you've got visuals to go with the misogynistic words.

message 24: by Clare (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:19PM) (new)

Clare | 53 comments I loved Rod McKuen's poetry when I was very young. I recently looked at one of his books that I own and nearly gagged. How about this: "Volcanos now erupting...down below your belly...are saying that your past due." I still love his gravelly voice though.

message 25: by Lena (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:19PM) (new)

Lena So this is my dilemma. I thought Tom Robbins was brilliant when I was in college (except for Cowgirls, oh, and Frog Pajamas--what on earth possessed him to think that writing a book entirely in the second person was a good idea?) But the magic is long since gone between Tom and me. Still, I've given most of his books high ratings on my shelf, since that reflects what I thought about them when I read them.

But then I feel kind of funny, since even though I have fond remembrances of Tom's books, I wouldn't necessarily recommend them now. I think Sherri is right that some books are perfect for some stages of life but not others, but I don’t know how to deal with this when I give them a star rating, particularly with books I don't remember well enough to write a full review for.

I'm curious how others rate books like this - do you rate them with the innocence of your past self, or the superior literary tastes of the current you?

message 26: by Elaine (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:19PM) (new)

Elaine (urbanbamboo) | 7 comments Lena, good question. The same could go for books we initially hated and now love/like. I think I will rate based on my current feelings, but perhaps add a note with the earlier thoughts.

My mother kept a box of books under the basement stairs when I was in grade school; thus, my love affair with Sidney Sheldon. Now I can't even bring myself to add his books to my Good Reads shelves. Ick.

message 27: by Kristin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:19PM) (new)

Kristin Did anyone else read Holy Blood, Holy Grail when it came out in the 80's? I remember reading that and being blown away by the "research" the authors had done to uncover this big secret conspiracy that has been so closely guarded over the millenia (Jesus didn't die on the cross, but married Mary Magdalene and fathered a dynasty that lived on in France, spawned secret socieites, etc).

Now, 20 years and a one degree in religious studies later, I blush. And when the Da Vinci Code came out I just rolled my eyes. I know what Dan Brown was reading before he picked up his pen.

The world would be a much more interesting place if all these conspiracy theories were really true. But alas, I think we are too endeared to gossip to keep a secret that well, for that long.

message 28: by Ann M (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:20PM) (new)

Ann M | 39 comments I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail recently, to find out what was up with the Da Vinci Code, which I thought was silly. HBHG is a good, thoughtful, book, but all it charts is a persistent rumor. DNA tests have ruled out the possibility of Christ being an ancestor of two houses of French kings. Snobby French rumor at that, but very interesting to realize that people could keep such a myth alive for so long. Kind of like religion, I guess.

message 29: by Cassiel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:31PM) (new)

Cassiel to Lena's question: definitely I rate books based on my past feelings for them. I rated all of Castaneda's books 5s, and still love to sit down with one of them when I want to be lulled into unconciousness by nonsense. I haven't read any Tom Robbins in years, but remember his books with sweet nostalgia.

And my literary tastes are apparently not superior to when I was younger; I adore Neal Stephenson's big silly novels and think A Heartbreaking Work... is amusing and uplifting.

message 30: by Lena (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:31PM) (new)

Lena I’m so conflicted about Castaneda’s books (and the works of his companions, Florinda Donner and Taisha Abelar) I can’t even put them on my shelf. As works of fantasy fiction, I have great admiration for some of those books. They certainly succeeded in pulling me into another world when I read them fifteen years ago. But since James Frey had nothing on Castaneda in the fabrication department, and I (in my more gullible years) made the mistake of believing they were, in fact, true, I was much worse off for it. So it’s really impossible for me to rate them, since, from a writing standpoint, I think they are very interesting. But their misrepresentation as factual has so disastrously affected the lives of many people I know I would only be able to recommend them if they were all reclassified as the fiction they actually are.

message 31: by Lena (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:32PM) (new)

Lena Sherri, Barbara Kingsolver wrote an interesting essay about that. She was amazed at the continual need to explain to people that her first novel, The Beantrees, was fiction, and not autobiography. Her theory was that, because she looked like a nice person, people assumed she wouldn’t lie to them. Personally, I think it’s because if a book really resonates, it reflects something true in our own lives.

That’s what makes the Castaneda books so sticky, I think. There are some powerful nuggets of truth embedded within all that mythology, which make it tempting to believe all the rest. But I wonder how well the books would have sold if Castaneda—and his publishers—had been more honest about their origins.

message 32: by Kay (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:32PM) (new)

Kay | 20 comments Me too on the Stephenson, Cassiel - give me Diamond Age and I'm happy for the weekend!

message 33: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:32PM) (new)

Laura | 29 comments Sherri and Lena, I was assigned "The Teachings of Don Juan" for a religion course in college, so of course I assumed it was fact. Oh well... live, learn, laugh (I mean, what else can you do in that circumstance).

Flash forward 20 years, when I moved Castenada from the 200s (Religion) to Fiction in the library collection where I work. Some people were incensed! But then, these are the same people that got all bent out of shape when I moved "Roots" and "Go Ask Alice" from BIO to FIC, too.

message 34: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:32PM) (new)

Laura | 29 comments HBHG is an interesting look at plausibles - some of which can be ruled out (Jesus founded French dynasties), some of which can't (where did Mary Magdalene go after the Crucifixion? it's *plausible* she went to France). My favorite part of all the research is when you realize that none of the sources are readily available to outsiders: the keystone of good research is replicability. Since then, only Dan Brown seems to have been able to reach the same conclusions/results.

message 35: by John (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:39PM) (new)

John | 8 comments Re: John Irving

I've only read one of his books: "A Son of the Circus". Irving fans say it's the only one they disliked; I liked it. However, I have no interest in reading anything else of his.

message 36: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:51PM) (new)

Meghan I used to love Oh Great! I can't even remember what it is called. It's by Charles Dickens. I reread it a few months ago and boy... "WHAT WAS I THINKING"

message 37: by Darcie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:53PM) (new)

Darcie | 3 comments I read "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn when I was a teenager. At the time, I thought the entire world could be saved if everybody read it. The book has an afterward where he asks people to join him on a commune; I was too young at the time to go, but I fully intended to join him when I was out of college.

Now I'm too embarrassed of it to even put it on my shelf. Youthful idealism just makes me feel naked.

message 38: by Lavande (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:58PM) (new)

Lavande Hey folks. I'm going to ill-advisedly jump (or rather shamble) to the defense of the aptly-labelled Bukowski. Alcoholic, misogynistic jerk? Yes, yes, and yes. But Run With the Hunted (a collection) was truly beautiful. Still, it's definitely true that a lot of his work is mean-spirited and useless.
But I *really* liked the comments about Eggers, Heinlein, and the Last Tango in Paris. So true. So true.

message 39: by Tara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

Tara (tara_n) | 66 comments I can't believe I am about to admit this out loud. When I was between the ages of 12 and 17, I could not get enough of VC Andrews and her Flowers in the Attic series and Heaven series. I think I read all of the books in those two series, and just ate them up. I was way too wrapped up in the incestuous relationships and drama surrounding all of her characters and actually thought I was reading thought provoking, well written literature. I shiver to think that my impressionable mind gobbled that up.

Now looking back, I wonder why my mother didn't take those books out of my hands. Just kidding, but I do completely understand why my mother had a look of shock on my face when I defended the incest between the characters in the Flowers in the Attic series. I reread Flowers in the Attic when I was 26 and only got through 30 pages before throwing it against the wall in complete disgust. Well written literature? I don't think so. I am embarassed to admit that I read those books and, until now, had tucked that knowledge away never to be revealed. Oh well, *shrug* we all make mistakes and (hopefully) learn from them. I saw a new VC Andrews book in the magazine aisle at the grocery store. I hope her ghost writer is getting a lot of money for all those books he/she has put out!

message 40: by Celia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:09PM) (new)

Celia (celiap) I think I read nearly all VC Andrews books - I didn't stop at the Flowers in the Attic series! I was actually remembering the Flowers in the Attic books the other day, and wondering why I found a story about siblings locked up in an attic, falling in love and drinking each other's blood so fascinating. But there you go. Embarassing, but probably not as much as all the Jackie Collins I read as a teenager :-)

message 41: by T.K. (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:09PM) (new)

T.K. Kenyon | 15 comments Pretty much everything I ever read in my formative years, between the ages of 9 and 21, and even some thereafter. My parents, I have now figured out, are anti-elitist reactionaries, and they only read crap. I don't say this as merely a disgruntled grown child, but I had to seriously search out decent literature for myself.

They always made the wrong choice. Heinlein, not Asimov. Louis L'Amour, not McCarthy (though I don't like McCarthy) or McMurtry. Ludlum, not Le Carre. Mitchell, not Austen. Patterson, not Chandler.

My mother read romance novels, the *really* light and fluffy ones. She thought Gone with the Wind and Forever Amber were hi-falutin' literature. She liked Gone with the Wind 2 (Scarlett). My dad read bad SF and bad Westerns. They discovered Clive Cussler a few years ago and were in Heaven.

Anyway, everything I read for about 12 formative years, believing that the good stuff was "too hard, and not fun."

TK Kenyon
"Still shaking it off"
Author of *RABID: A Novel*
Which my parents do
Pretend to like to be nice
But really they don't.

message 42: by Rachael (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:09PM) (new)

Rachael | 10 comments When I first read Left Behind over 10 years ago, I thought it as the greatest book ever. Now, not so much.

message 43: by Jennie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:10PM) (new)

Jennie | 7 comments I don't think any of us should be held to our adolescent reading taste, nor should we be ashamed of it. I read VC Andrews, and I wore too much perfume and makeup, stayed up too late on the phone, and I lied to my parents about how old my boyfriend was. Good decisions? not at all, but they were all formative.

I'm a meek little librarian now, and my students seem embarrassed by the fact that they love Danielle Steele I'm just thrilled they are reading something not assigned to them. I figure they'll probably snap out of it one day...

message 44: by Books Ring Mah Bell (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:11PM) (new)

Books Ring Mah Bell adolescent reading tastes... ug.
I hated Great Gatsby (15 years ago) seeing that everyone raves about it, I may need to try it again with my mature tastes...

message 45: by Melissa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Melissa (melissaharl) On John Irving-

I don't like his wrestling and bear books all that much either, but I do really like his A Widow for One Year. For one, thing the female characters were more richly drawn.

message 46: by Chrystal714 (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Chrystal714 | 47 comments Ok, ok I think I will have to admit to loving VC Andrews as a teen also. I think I liked it because those kids had it worse then me and were surviving... well most of them survived. Also I loved that the main girl character got revenge, even if it was a bit hollow. I was a very angry girl at the time. I haven't really thought about those books in a long time. I guess they really were quite sick and twisted.

I tried to read another VC. Andrews book later on, I can't remember which series, but I just hated the heroine of the story. Then I found out that VC didn't even write it. That she had died and someone had written it from her notes. They didn't do a very good job.

message 47: by Red (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Red Evans | 11 comments I remember well those books and since I've grown much older, in fact, much older I realize with great relief that Tom Robbins outgrew Tom Robbins.

Red Evans author On Ice. To order HERE!

message 48: by Tara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Tara (tara_n) | 66 comments VC Andrews -- I think she had a serious obsession with incest. Does anyone know anything about her? I knew that when she died, a ghost writer took over, but nothing beyond that. Hmm. I'm glad I'm not the only one who enjoyed her books as a teen. I liked the main character in Flowers in the Attic because she was a dancer, and I was a dancer so I thought we had a connection. But, I wouldn't make out with my own brother! Yuck!

message 49: by Mark (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

Mark On Philip's comment on John Irving. Yeah, I really got fed up with the fucking dancing bear bit so I quit reading his books. Maybe I'll try the widow one, though. Gotta give him some credit; he keeps writing.

message 50: by Esther (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:16PM) (new)

Esther (eshchory) I was totally addicted to Enid Blyton especially the Famous Five. This is no great shame except that I carried on reading them into my early teens.

At one point I was reading The Famous Five and Orwell's 1984 concurrently!

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