Books I Loathed discussion

Read the books twice, have two different opinions?

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message 1: by Susan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:05PM) (new)

Susan Lantz (susanlantz) | 4 comments I read *Gone With the Wind* in my teens and thought Scarlett was a terrible person.

I read it again in my 20's and thought Scarlett was the only character in the novel with any sense (and the person I'd most like to be stuck in a life or death situation with. . . provided she didn't eat me, she'd get me out of it!)

I'm in my thirties and afraid to read it again for fear that the race issues will get on my nerves.

Anyone else gotten a new perspective from reading a novel for a second or third time?

message 2: by Norman (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:05PM) (new)

Norman (normanince) | 48 comments I first read The Great Gatsby when i was 18 and thought it was pointless drivel. Coming back to it in my thirties, I found it to be beautifully written and fascinating.

My first time through The Satanic Verses was a bit of a slog. Confused by the details, lost in the style, and unable to make the connections, I forced my way through and heaved a sigh when i finished. But then two weeks later i wanted to give it another shot...and I loved it!

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep didn't really thrill me until the THIRD time I read it, and now I can pick it up, turn to practically any few pages, and savour every word.

message 3: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:05PM) (new)

Carol | 8 comments I agree w/Norman about "The Great Gatsby". Same with a few others by Fitzgerald. Now that I think about it, why are some books designated for high schoolers to read when they haven't had the life experience to truly appreciate them? Edit: I'm NOT knocking high school readers at all...I'm just saying that personally I could enjoy some 'classics' much more after I have lived and loved and in my specific situation, raised a child.

message 4: by Xysea (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:05PM) (new)

Xysea  (xysea) The Lord of the Rings trilogy was incomprehensible to me when I first picked it up, probably when I was 19 yrs old. There had always been people who had recommended it to me and so I thought I should try. I didn't find the story entertaining or engrossing at all. I found it stodgy, boring and a big question mark.

Flash forward 14 years.

The movies were coming out. Someone gave me the books and I thought - okay, maybe there *is* something I'm missing. And there was. A lot of understanding of myth, mythology, a whole appreciation for the battle of good vs evil, the nature of humankind, etc. That was understanding and education I had picked up in that 14 year time span between the two readings. It made all the difference.

I won't say the books were life-changing, but I did get way more out of a second attempt than I though possible. I'm no huge fan of fantasy, but no longer with I automatically reject it out of hand any more, either.

message 5: by Rachel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:06PM) (new)

Rachel even though i'm a huge shakespeare fan, it took me three reads of "king lear" to appreciate it. the first time i absolutely hated it, the second time i thought it was alright, the third time i really liked it. i guess it just took me a while to really get it.

message 6: by Vanessa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:06PM) (new)

Vanessa | 42 comments I mentioned this in another thread "What Was I Thinking?", but I once thought (at the age of 13) that "Johnathan Livingston Seagull" and "Illusions" both by Richard Bach were the most profound pieces of writing in the whole goddamned universe. When I read them again in my twenties I laughed out loud at how simplistic and adolescent they were (not to mention blushed because I'd recommended them to so many people).

message 7: by Nate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:07PM) (new)

Nate (innatejames) | 11 comments Catcher In the Rye was the book that changed for me most between my first and second readings. The first time I read it, I was 18 and just graduated from high school. I thought it was the only book that really "got me." I took a lot of comfort in finding the words for what I was feeling. I read it again when I was 30. I remember rolling my eyes a lot at myself and being thoroughly annoyed at Holden for being so dense. Now at work whenever it comes up, I usually mention Perks of Being a Wallflower as an updated similar CitR. It has the angst with the added frustration of living in a cell phone age.

message 8: by Lori (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:41PM) (new)

Lori (tnbbc) i cant say that I have had this happen with a book, mainly because I tend to not reread them... to me, first impressions of a book are hard to duplicate. Its always been a bad experience for me when Ive rewatched a movie I've loved as a teen (Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Last Unicorn, Dark Crystal)... Those were the highlights of my childhood, now I watch them and think... OHMIGOD, what was I ON???

I dont want that to happen to a book Ive loved. Books are much more personal than that....So, I read it once, and let whatever emotion or memory of it linger throughout my life untouched, unblemished....

message 9: by Bronwyn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:51PM) (new)

Bronwyn | 29 comments To Kill a Mockingbird was abook I read in High school and totally hated it. I reread it a couple of years ago and it's one of my favorite books. I resented most of the books I was forced to read in High School.

message 10: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:51PM) (new)

Meghan You know, the only books I read agian are books that I totally loved. Maybe I should reread some that I didn't like and see what I think of them now.

message 11: by Teri (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

Teri G Re-reading books we didn't like ... hmmm. Books we hated in HS/college and liked later ... hmmm.

I might try it ... but I promise I'm not re-reading the following HS/college assignments (some of these, I couldn't get through the first time, lol!): *Siddhartha *Life on the Mississippi *anything by Melville, Alexis de Tocqueville, or Aeschylus *The Plague *Red Badge of Courage

I was assigned The Moonstone at one point, and absolutely did not have the time to wade through it (I had a social life, you know!), but I might try it again.

I do tend to re-read things I loved, and have to agree that sometimes - rarely - they're just not as good the second time around.

message 12: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 15 comments Carol- I agree that a certain amount of maturity and experience increases our enjoyment of literature. However, if we had waited to read great literature until we were mature enough to fully appreciate its contents most of us would have missed the boat entirely.

In my opinion, one purpose of high school education is to make students aware of what the world has to offer in spite of the fact that at 18 years old much is beyond a student's comprehension.

I personally have revisited many books, plays, works of art,historical and scientific writings,and great musical compositions as an adult that I was exposed to as a child. If I had not been made aware of these works as a young girl I'm sure that I would not have examined them later in life:)Cheers to the teachers who forced us to learn about life despite our objections!

message 13: by Michelle (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:07PM) (new)

Michelle (literarilyspeaking1) I have read Gatsby several times and loved every word of it.

As for ones I've re-read and had my impressions changed, the biggest one for me was Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I had to read it in my junior year of high school, during a super-busy semester, so I think I just kind of resented that fact and didn't like it from the get-go.

I then spent the intervening four years professing how much I hated Hardy, and was even called the spawn of Satan (in good jest) by a professor because I was so contrary. However, I picked up a copy at a library sale and decided to give it another go. I absolutely loved it.

Lord of the Rings was a difficult one for me to get through when I first started it. I liked the plot and characters, but didn't really look much beyond it. A few years later, when it came time to find something to pair with C.S. Lewis' Ransom trilogy in writing my honors thesis, I immediately turned to LoTR. I am now such a huge fan, I could be one of those guys who made their own chain mail in order to be in the movie!

message 14: by Jennie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:08PM) (new)

Jennie | 7 comments My perceptions have changed on two books, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Diary of Anne Frank, both for the same reason. I read them both as a young person (10 or 12), and I found them fascinating and funny and sad, in the appropriate places. I read both again in my thirties, and I find them terrifying. I think parenthood changed my perspective. I'm no longer identifying with Scout and Anne; I'm now with Atticus and Mrs. Frank (Edith?).

message 15: by Jan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:08PM) (new)

Jan | 5 comments I devoured and loved "One Years of Solitude" the summer after I graduated from college. I told everyone I knew to read that book. Loved, loved, loved it so much I suggested it for my book group 20-some years later. And I didn't get it at all. It was like I was suddenly dumb and dense and non-magical. This is one of the saddest experiences . . . I felt like I could no longer hear Santa's bell in "The Polar Express."

message 16: by Maria (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:08PM) (new)

Maria | 19 comments I had the same experience with Catcher in the Rye as Nate, except I was fourteen the first time and twenty the second time. This happened to a few of my friends, too.

The only other thing I can think of right off the bat is a little-known Silver Age Russian author Nadezhda Teffy. Loved her writing in my late teens. Picked it up again a few months ago (I'm twenty-three) and couldn't stand her characterisation of women.

message 17: by Carolyn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:08PM) (new)

Carolyn (carolynho) | 1 comments completely agree with you Carol. my mother went out and bought "Jane Eyre" when i was 13, and it flew by me- like a really fat seagull. the most i gained from it were exciting kissing scenes and a more intimate relationship with my dictionary.

even more interesting WAS my adoration of "The Woman Warrior" when i was starting high school, the whole relating to the text from a cultural perspective, only later to read it again in college with a fierce and new found loathing. the book actually offends me now! a lot. perhaps it would less if i weren't asian.

message 18: by Erica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:09PM) (new)

Erica Poole | 65 comments Norman, thank you for saying that about the Satanic Verses, I have a beautiful copy at home and really want to read it - and like it!- but have not been able to pick it back up! Maybe I will give it another try over the break!

message 19: by Erica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:09PM) (new)

Erica Poole | 65 comments I have been thinking this for a long time, but now it is time to say it, I must have gone to a horrible High School! Because I swear we were not required to read most of the classics that everyone says they had to read in HS! Ugh. I read 1984, voluntarily for a book report, and a bunch of Shakespeare, but To Kill a Mockingbird? Nope. Read it on my own. Catcher in the Rye? Nope. Of Mice and Men, nope. And so on and so forth. Did only AP & Honors classes read these? Because I was not in low level reading classes or anything. I feel very cheated. Blech! But I am catching up on my own.

message 20: by Jennie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:10PM) (new)

Jennie | 7 comments We didn't have AP or honors classes in my teeny tiny high school. However, I had ancient English teachers (with the exception of one) who probably hadn't read anything published after 1940, thus the preponderance of Melville, Twain, et. al.

message 21: by Lisa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:10PM) (new)

Lisa Ponti | 12 comments I think choice of books has more to do with the instructors personal likes and dislikes a lot of the time (any English teachers care to weigh in?). But even having read a lot of these books in middle and high school, I have found I've really enjoyed the ones I've reread and gotten more out of them as an adult.

message 22: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:12PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I think I need to give The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye another chance. Sigh.

message 23: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:12PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Also, Erica, I was in AP English and didn't read many of the books you'd think we had to read. We did read The Catcher in the Rye and Of Mice and Men, but not To Kill a Mockingbird. We also read Huckleberry Finn, Great Expectations, the Lord of the Flies, and excerpts of Jane Eyre and Moby Dick.

One of my goals is to find a list of recommended reading for high schoolers and read everything on it.

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

The only books I had to read in high school were Great Expectations and Of Mice and Men.

I was a Reading teacher and I can tell you that it depends largely on the school district. Some schools have a set curriculum that you have to follow--including certain books your students must read. In other school there is more freedom to choose books, but you pretty much have to pick from the existing classroom sets unless your school or department has some money you can talk someone into giving you. Generally speaking, teachers in smaller schools usually have more freedom to choose different books because they may well be the only teacher teaching that class (however, they are also more likely to run into pressure to stay away from certain books because of the conservative base in small towns). In bigger schools teachers often have to all use the same book.

Two of my children went to the same high school I did and they were still reading the exact same two books (although they had added a few more to the curriculum--particularly in the AP classes).

message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

message 26: by Claire (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:14PM) (new)

Claire (deborahclaire) | 17 comments Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but a book on which I definitely have a different opinion is The Awakening. I read it sophomore year of high school and really didn't like it. I thought decisions made of the heroine were just really immature, and I guess I didn't "get it" at the time. We were required to read it again for my senior year, and my opinion changed drastically - I now give it 5 stars.

The only environmental factor that I can think of that made me so change my opinion between the readings was that I had a first serious boyfriend. Maybe I realized the desire for feminist independence? I have no idea. Probably totally irrelevant anyway.

message 27: by Andrea (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:14PM) (new)

Andrea (outlanderbookfan) | 10 comments I haven't re-read Catcher in the Rye, but our neighbor girl/babysitter is 16 and just read it for English class and she hated it too. She and I discuss books quite often, she is a smart, articulate girl and all I got when I asked her about this one was a very large eyeroll. I don't think I will be reading it again!

message 28: by Recynd (new)

Recynd I know I'm like a month behind (story of my life), but I'm going to join in anyway:

My contribution is "A Road Less Travelled" by M. Scott Peck. When I first read this book, I was unimaginably impressed by Peck's wisdom and insight regarding human nature. So astute!

Recently, after reading a damned harsh review (here on GoodReads), I went back and reviewed my once-beloved "Road Less Travelled" (if it's one "l", forgive my misspelling)...and shuddered. Peck's not "wise", he's "insufferable". And that's not the same thing, at all.

message 29: by Carrie (new)

Carrie "Catcher in the Rye," same as a few people on here... Thought it was clever and insightful on the first read as a teenager, now that I'm over 30 it reminds me of why I dislike teenagers!

Most of Shakespeare had the opposite effect. As a high school student, I could barely keep up with the plot because the language was so unfamiliar. In college, I found it much easier to understand plus I realized that there were sexual references on just about every page!

Chick lit, alas, seems to be for the younger reader too. I was 21 when I read "Animal Husbandry" and couldn't put it down. It's your typical story about a young professional woman who works at a publishing house (could that be the author's job, by any chance?) who goes for the wrong guys and can't talk about anything else when she calls her best friend like 5 times a day. I found a used copy this year and found it very easy to put down. I also don't call my friends to chat about my love life anymore!

message 30: by Melody (new)

Melody (runningtune) A Confederacy of Dunces. I read it in the early 80s when it first came out and LOVED it. We just recently re-read it for a bookgroup and found it very tedious.

message 31: by Skylar (new)

Skylar Burris (skylarburris) | 32 comments WUTHERING HEIGHTS.

Read it as a teenager – oooooh, ahh, how romantic. Deeply moved.

Read it as an adult – ewww, horrible, how pathological and moronic. Wait, oh, maybe that's the point! Real love isn't this crazy obsessive romantic crap, it's the quite growth shown in the second couple of the second half of the novel—how did I miss the second half of the novel? Still, vaguely bored.


Read it as a teenager -- oooooh, ahh, how romantic. Deeply moved.

Read it as an adult – Rochester is a jerk. But wait, this book isn't really about the romance. It's about moral fortitude and the true meaning and purpose of morality. It's about finding that perfect balance between passion and duty. There's a lot more too this than I thought. My heart wasn't moved the second time, but my intellect was.

message 32: by Abi (new)

Abi I didn't like Lord of the Rings the first time round either. It was too complicated for me to really follow or to properly hold my attention, because I was too young when I tried. The Hobbit was one of my favourite childhood books and I think I was hoping for more of the same.

My appreciation of Robinson Crusoe has increased as well, mostly because now I understand the colonial and materialism themes and don't just see it as the tedious chronicle of a boring man doing very little by himself.

message 33: by k (new)

k | 9 comments I bought Crime and Punishment when I was 16. I couldn't get through the first chapter. I was young and pretty and somewhat popular in the *we hate jocks and sing in school musicals* group, I was fairly happy and couldn't understand why a guy would sit in an attic all day brooding.

When I was 17 I was forced to leave my grandmother's house in Boston in exchange for a crappy rented place in VT with my alcoholic father. I hadn't made new friends yet and didn't have a job. I was relatively angry and brutally closed minded about the entire situation. Crime and Punishment became my new favorite book.

A lot of times, whether we enjoy or understand a book has more to do with our circumstance and less to do with how well the book is written.

message 34: by Gail (new)

Gail I couldn't possibly agree more. You've expressed it perfectly.

message 35: by Tess (new)

Tess My mother loves Mary Stewart's books, and when I was younger (13? 15?) I tried to read Nine Coaches Waiting which was one of her favorites. I think she just liked saying the 'nine coaches waiting, hurry hurry hurry, aye to the devil.'
But anyway, couldn't get through it. Lied to her and said of course I loved it.
Ten years later and I am trying it again and hey-it's really intriguing!

To everyone who liked Catcher in the Rye when young - yikes. I hated it. It made me so depressed! I can't imagine reading it again and liking it. I did love The Perks of Being A Wallflower. I highly recommend that for a dose of teenage-ism.

message 36: by Krista (new)

Krista (dancingelfmaiden) | 4 comments Heart of Darkness was a book that I had to read a couple times to truly like. I read it for an English class and the prof told us not to show up if we hadn't finished the book. Being the good little student I read it but was so boring. When about a third of the class showed we got into crazy in-depth discussions. I re-read it a week later and it was like a new world.

message 37: by Rachel (new)

Rachel i had to read "king lear" three times between high school and college. i loathed it in high school (much to my ap english teacher's dismay...), i tolerated it freshman year, and i loved it junior year. i mean, how did i ever not appreciate "king lear"? it makes me ashamed of myself....

message 38: by Randi (new)

Randi (The Artist Formerly known as Guitar Chick) (guitarchick) | 79 comments I read Twilight the first time through and was obssesesed for two days. Read it again...

message 39: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 76 comments I liked The Life of Pi the first time I read it, then when I re-read it last year for a group read I realized how stupid and preachy it was. How did I ever like it?

message 40: by Laura (new)

Laura (Avid7Reader) | 60 comments The Fire Within series by Chris d'Lacey. I think this has something to do with my age at the time. I read them once, though they were fabulous. Went to reread them in order to read the sequel, found them incredibly childish and pitiful.

message 41: by Laura (new)

Laura (Avid7Reader) | 60 comments Lisa wrote: "I think choice of books has more to do with the instructors personal likes and dislikes a lot of the time (any English teachers care to weigh in?). But even having read a lot of these books in mid..."

I'm not an English teacher personally, but my mother is and I can tell you that she hates teaching whole class books like this. It's forced because of the curriculum they are required to teach, they don't get a choice in the matter. I think this is true for most English teachers. All of them in my school district, anyway.

message 42: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jpnwt) | 21 comments The first time I read Katherine Patterson's "Jacob Have I Loved," I was about 12. I felt so sorry for the main character. Her parents were uninterested and uncaring, but lavished love on her twin sister. Her best friend ultimately rejected her and ended up marrying her twin. I couldn't understand why everyone was so awful to her.
I read it again when I was 30, and I still felt sorry for her. But this time, it was because she made life so difficult for herself. She caused all her own problems and pushed everyone away with her abrasive personality.
I couldn't believe how differently I saw it as an adult. Still a great book, though.

message 43: by Maria (new)

Maria Elmvang (kiwiria) | 72 comments "Wuthering Heights". I read this as an emo teen and quite liked it. Don't ask me why though, because I really don't remember, and when I reread it 10 years later for a book club I HATED it!

Ever since then I get almost angry when it's recommended in books - Ann M. Martin, Stephenie Meyer, Allyson Noël and several others all have their main characters read it as "one of their favourite books". It makes me want to shake them. It's a horrible, horrible book, filled with horrible, horrible people.

message 44: by Randi (new)

Randi (The Artist Formerly known as Guitar Chick) (guitarchick) | 79 comments Kiwiria, most of the fans of those authors are emo teens. I myself haven't read it (too many mixed reviews) but the book influenced those listed. And quite frankly, the listed aren't that good either.

message 45: by Maria (new)

Maria Elmvang (kiwiria) | 72 comments Ah, but I actually rather enjoy both AMM (BSC nostalgia FTW!) and Stephenie Meyer (probably because I discovered her before the hype took over). Hate Allyson Noël though. It does make me think a lot less of the authors that they'd recommend WH though.

message 46: by Cobalt_Cin (new)

Cobalt_Cin | 23 comments Me it was LOTR and some of Shakespear's plays. I tried in my teens and a few years ago when the first movie came out to read the series. I have never got through the first book the first or second time. I did manage to read and finish the second and got half way through the third. Interestingly, it was the Twin Towers movie that was my fave of the 3 as well. But I just could not read the books. I haven't a clue why and it seems quite a few people struggle with these txts. My dad did and a few of my friends, but his second time reading them - again in time with the movie releases, he got them. Perhaps reader age has a factor in these books as I am 26.

We used to always be stuck with Romeo and Juliet in high school, once we got to do the Merchant of Venice and King Lear. I've never got why nobody likes King Lear, first time we did it, in my last year of high school, I enjoyed it. But then again it was more for the fool, I like Robin Hobb's books for the same reason, both Fools are such complex, complicated and enigmatic characters. I believe the movie made Romeo and Juliet so popular, but for me I never really liked it. Hopeless love stories with tragic suicidal endings do nothing for me, especially as the real Juliet was actually 12 . . .Once I learned that Ive always hated Rome and Juliet.

message 47: by Randi (new)

Randi (The Artist Formerly known as Guitar Chick) (guitarchick) | 79 comments Really? That's perverted. But times were different, I suppose.
I tried reading Lord of the Rings at age 8. Once they got past the Inn at Bree I couldn't stand it and started watching the movies for a while. (I had first seen them at age 6, thanks to my big brother).
I read the books again at age 12 (the age I am now) and I absoloutly loved them.

message 48: by stormhawk (new)

stormhawk I dislike LOTR every time I read it, so that doesn't change. One book I do think changes based on your life and experience is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values. I used to love it, not so much anymore.

I work in Mental Health, so I know how crazy Phaedus was. Makes the ideas totally different with that perspective.

message 49: by Minnie (new)

Minnie | 30 comments k wrote: "I bought Crime and Punishment when I was 16. I couldn't get through the first chapter. I was young and pretty and somewhat popular in the *we hate jocks and sing in school musicals* group, I was ..."

That is SO true! I hated Hedda Gabler as a student but when I grew older I read it again with greater understanding because I could identify with Hedda. Not sure I'll feel the same today though.

message 50: by Minnie (new)

Minnie | 30 comments I'm reading Anna Karenina for the second time. I initially approached it with great resistance remembering how much I had loatherd all the characters all the long Russian names all the petty personal interactions and above all how I had loathed Anna. The present reading is absolutely captivating! I'm enthralled by all that I previously loathed. It's a miracle! All I can say to justify this about face is that I was 19 years old and now I'm 56. Age really really mellows know-it-all teenagers!

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