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Chit Chat About Books > Biblioguilt: classics you hate and trash you love

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message 1: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Is anyone brave enough to admit to biblioguilt? If you can give a reason, that's even better.

I'll start.

Classics I think I ought to like, but don't:
* Little Women : Self-consciously self-righteous, without the redeeming balance of depth, breadth and moral grey areas.
* Swann's Way : It is so introspective without even being very enlightening, let alone driving the plot that I became inured to the skill and beauty of the language by the struggle to understand it.
* The Alchemist : Superficially deep (ie deep on the surface and shallow underneath), but actually rather pretentious new age waffle.
* I've also reread a couple of Jane Austen in the last couple of years, and discovered I didn't enjoy them much any more. They just seemed too hackneyed (my fault, more than Austen's).

Books I have enjoyed, even though (or perhaps because) they are often thought of as bad or trivial... I struggled with this category and hope that other people's suggestions may trigger some ideas. The books that have very low GoodReads scores, but which I enjoyed, are fairly obscure and not especially trashy. Or maybe I'm in denial, assuming that if I like something, it must be OK?

message 2: by Diana (new)

Diana | 23 comments I hated "The Alchemist"!!! I don't know what you mean by trash, but I love Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes, whenever I am tired :) Some nice chick-lit to get me back on track :)
And I agree with "Swann's Way"... It bored me to tears...
Another classic I thought I'd love was "Great Expectations".... didn't impress me so much...

message 3: by Alison (last edited Jun 27, 2011 10:01AM) (new)

Alison Forde | 269 comments Ha ha. I haven't read the Alchemist, but I did read The Zahir and superficially deep pretentious new age twaddle sums that up perfectly! Thanks for your lovely turn of phrase Cecily.
I couldn't hack it to the end of Wuthering Heights. A bit too silly.
I feel a bit guilty about my love of detective fiction - it's not very improving, but very enjoyable.

message 4: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Diana wrote: "I don't know what you mean by trash, but I love Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes, whenever I am tired :) Some nice chick-lit to get me back on track :)..."

A Kinsella is probably the only "chick lit" I have read, and whilst I hated it (review here:, I think it's a notch above "trash", though others may disagree.


message 5: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Alison wrote: "I feel a bit guilty about my love of detective fiction - it's not very improving, but very enjoyable"

Lots of delightful, intelligent and very respectable people share that. My mother watches TV murder mysteries with the vicar (who doesn't have a TV of his own)!

message 6: by Kristina (new)

Kristina (kristinalawhead) Agree with Little Women haha! I read it for the first time earlier this year and was like wtf is the appeal? the entire time. I can see how people like it but it was NOT for me! I still like to re-read my babysitters club books and VC Andrews haha, glad no one on here will judge me :)

message 7: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 50047 comments Most of the classics were books I was required to read in highschool and that was a loooong time ago. I don't really remember them to comment on whether or not I liked them. Animal Farm/1984 and Lord of the Flies were a couple that I probably didn't like.

As for trashy books - what one person thinks is trash, another thinks is treasure. :) Every now and again I like to read something fluffy, like chick lit. I would say an easy read with a light subject matter (like a romance) would be a fluffy read.

message 8: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments It seems to be easier to admit to disliking classics than enjoying trash; perhaps I used too emotive a word. If we enjoy something, we'll be unlikely to think of it as trash, even if others do.

The nearest I can come up with as trash for me is comics and cartoons: Giles (only Brits will know him), Mad Magazine (the early ones) etc.

message 9: by Kristina (new)

Kristina (kristinalawhead) Judy wrote: "Love the topic, Cecily. There are 2 books that bored me that most readers love; The God of Small Thingsand Love in the Time of Cholera. Also, I see I'm not alone in not be..."

i LOVE the sisterhood books!

message 10: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 50047 comments I like the term fluff better than trash. To me trash is the National Enquirer.

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) I didn't like Anne of Green Gables or Lord of the Rings or His Dark Materials. When I want something lighter I read quality children's books and old science fiction short stories.

message 12: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Cheryl in CC NV wrote: "...When I want something lighter I read quality children's books and old science fiction short stories."

Old sci-fi - excellent. John Wyndham is my favourite for that, especially his short stories.

message 13: by Sam (new)

Sam (ecowitch) | 2148 comments I didn't get all the fuss around Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. I know I should have liked it and felt some comapssion but I didn't find it added anything to my understanding of the Holocaust as all she seemed to do was complain about her family. She didn't really mention their situation or how it was making them feel at all. To me it is just a teenage girl diary that just so happened to have been written at that time.

(I'm probably going to hell for this)

message 14: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Sam, I for one won't give you hell for disliking Anne Frank's diary.

I agree with your analysis, but not your conclusion: it is the normality of the teenage experience, even in extreme circumstances, that makes the diary so extraordinary.

However, liking it or not is another matter: entirely subjective, and no shame or pride should be attributed either way.

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) Sam, ditto what Cecily said, on both counts. And Cecily, I have a fair bit of Wyndham on Mt. TBR - I do look forward to it! :)

message 16: by Lori (new)

Lori Baldi Well there have got to be a multitude of what some would consider classics that I couldn't complete. For a live book club of which I was a member, we were to read Faulkner's As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner . I found it to be deadly dull and drab. Couldn't get through it so I could be wrong about the total book. But I don't think so. I also found fault with Les Misérables by Victor Hugo which I read in French while in school. From these 2 examples I'm thinking my stopping point in a prospective book would be dull and drab. The double D.

As for the fluffy or trashy reads: I'll admit to reading tons of romance. All kinds and shapes. I hit a streak a few years ago where I raced through the entire backlist of Nora Roberts. But I would NEVER consider those to be "trashy". Some of her work is excellent but I'm certain there will be multitudes who will disagree. Bring it on!

message 17: by Donna (new)

Donna (electrogirl68) | 116 comments I really cannot bear Jane Austen but confess to loving Matthew Reilly

message 18: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments I really didn't like Jane Eyre :O just took me about 3 months to read, which is a long time for me.

I LOVE the Twilight books. There I said it. Major guilty pleasure! And although I don't even think they are that good I still have all the Shopaholic books. Oh, and I liked P.S. I Love You.

message 19: by Dorottya (new)

Dorottya (dorottya_b) | 35 comments If I have to be honest, I wouldn't place Coelho in the classics section... it's just pure pretentious trash for me. I only read The Zahir, but it was more than enough. I also didn't like The Catcher in the Rye or Heart of Darkness. Oh and Then and Now by W. Somerset Maugham (but on the other hand, I really loved Theatre).
As for trash I love... well, it's a question what we consider trash. But from lighter reads, I loved The Hunger Games, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Something from Tiffany's, A Vintage Affair, Wicked Lovely... so a bunch of chick lit and YA.

message 20: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 16, 2014 04:19PM) (new)

Classics I hate: "Lolita" "Brave New World" "Lord of the Flies" "Heart of Darkness"
Trash I love: Harlequin Historical romances!

message 21: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 1733 comments I don't think I feel guilty for not liking any of these classics, nor do I absolutely hate them but I have no love for them:

The Picture of Dorian Gray was boring.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was too old school scifi for me.
Doctor Zhivago was full of boring, insipid people.
Frankenstein wasn't as exciting as I was expecting and I ended up just feeling sorry for the monster. Maybe Hollywood ruined this one for me.
The House of Mirth and here it's easy to say why, it's all about Lily. I couldn't stand her!

As for fluff or trashy books, I think the closest I get to that are the historical mysteries I read. They are my go to easy reads when I need a break.
I used to read Julia Quinn for some escapism but I don't like them anymore.

message 22: by Sam (new)

Sam (ecowitch) | 2148 comments I've just finished Don Quixote and I have to say I am left rather unmoved by it, I don't quite hate it but it wasn't the amazing gripping tale that I thought it would be...haven't even been able to bring myself to review it yet (think that'll have to wait until lunchtime).

message 23: by Lisa (last edited Dec 17, 2014 02:38AM) (new)

Lisa (lisathebooklover) | 9244 comments So far, I haven't read any classics that I have absolutely hated but I wasn't particularly impressed with Pride and Prejudice or Emma. I thought 'Pride and Prejudice' was overrated and I found 'Emma' quite boring. I didn't like Emma Woodhouse as a character either. I thought she was quite annoying.

My favourite fluffy book is probably The Notebook. I didn't think I would enjoy it but I ended up liking it a lot. It's a nice, easy read.

message 24: by Rusalka, Moderator (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 17566 comments Emma Woodhouse. Otherwise known as "character I would most like to punch".

message 25: by Lisa (last edited Dec 17, 2014 02:43AM) (new)

Lisa (lisathebooklover) | 9244 comments Rusalka wrote: "Emma Woodhouse. Otherwise known as "character I would most like to punch"."

Lol! I agree with that!

message 26: by Sandra (new)

Sandra (sanlema) | 9571 comments I can't say I hated any classic, but I'm definitively not a Shakespeare lover...

I read a lot and enjoy children books, but I don't really feel guilty about that.

message 27: by Gail (new)

Gail (appleshoelace) | 779 comments I love children's books, and YA books too, and don't feel the slightest bit guilty about it. :)

Regarding classics, I started reading Pride and Prejudice years ago, and gave up in irritation - I found it really annoying!

People are actually more often shocked by the unpopular classics that I like, than by the popular classics I don't like or the YA fiction I read. I get a lot of raised eyebrows from the fact that I love Wuthering Heights, and also the fact that I love Henry James' novels.

message 28: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisathebooklover) | 9244 comments You are not alone Gail, I love 'Wuthering Heights' too. It's my favourite classic. Another classic I really love is The Woman in White and my mum recently tried reading it and absolutely hated it and now she cannot understand why I like it so much.

message 29: by KimeyDiann (new)

KimeyDiann | 2174 comments I quite honestly haven't found many classics I do like. Pride and Prejudice was just meh for me. I hated Journey to the Center of the Earth. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was incredibly dull. I tried Little Women but gave up about halfway in.
The only classics I can think of right now that I do like are children's stories, The Secret Garden and A Little Princess are the first to come to mind. I remember reading Black Beauty as a child and liking it.

As far as fluff or trash that I enjoy... cheesy romances by authors like Nora Roberts. Smutty books like Fifty Shades of Grey or The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward.

message 30: by Lanelle (new)

Lanelle | 3208 comments I have tried to read some of Nathaniel Hawthorne's works several times, and found them so depressing. I had to quit. I didn't like the way it made me feel.

message 31: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20275 comments I was telling my daughter the other day that I had to read Pride and Prejudice several times before I really started to appreciate it. What was wierd, was that it was not until after I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that I really got it. It made me see things that I thought were stuffy and stupid in a different light. I must be wierd because I cannot say for sure that there are truley any classics I hate. Frankenstein was not really exciting and I did feel sorry for the monster, but listening to Dan Stevens read it was amazing and made me feel differently about the book.

I love to read children's stories like Because of Winn-Dixie or the book I am currently reading Ida B. . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World just for the fun and sappy hopefullness in them. I always try to pick up the Newberry Award winners every year. I guess I read pretty much anything out there and I do admit that I read the first Fifty Shades of Grey, just to see what it was all about. The books I truely do not care for are books by people like David Sedaris. Black Beauty and Little Women and The Secret Garden were all books I read as a child and still love and have read again and again.

message 32: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 50047 comments You have patience, Cherie. I wouldn't reread a book until I appreciated it. If I don't get it the first time around, it won't get a second chance.

message 33: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20275 comments I didn't mean I read it over and over like back to back, just multiple times. I guess that is wired too though. I don't know why I do it. It doesn't bother me at all. And I do read things back to back too, especially things I really like. Yeah, the guys in white coats are going to be knocking on my door soon....

message 34: by Sandra (new)

Sandra (sanlema) | 9571 comments Tell them you are reading Pride and Prejudice and can't go right now!

message 35: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 2641 comments Some books you just don't "get" until you are older and have seen more of life. Pride and Prejudice is one of those. I've read it several times now, but I wasn't all that impressed the first time I read it. Vanity Fair seemed kind of so-so when I read it in college, but when I reread it in my late fifties I found it to be hilarious and brilliant. The classics I hate are really depressing books by Thomas Hardy--Jude the Obscure, and Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I haven't read them since college, but I have zero interest in trying either of those again. I did try Middlemarch again. I got almost halfway through before my copy was destroyed in a house-fire. It does not get a third chance.

I agree completely with Cecily about Swann's Way and Little Women.

message 36: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 1733 comments I've tried Pride and Prejudice 3 times myself. In my teens I didn't get very far, in my twenties I loved it and it became my favorite book and I've just re-read it in my thirties and I still think it's a great book but it's no longer a favorite.

I didn't need Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to appreciate it but the Colin Firth movie made a big difference to my attitude. :)

message 37: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 1733 comments I also love Little Women because it's a childhood favorite.
It's up there with Little House on the Prairie & Anne of Green Gables for me.

message 38: by Lisa (last edited Dec 19, 2014 02:39PM) (new)

Lisa (lisathebooklover) | 9244 comments I have also read 'Pride and Prejudice' three times. The first two times were when I was in school and we studied it in English Literature and the third time was earlier this year. I wasn't that impressed with it when I read it in school and that opinion still stands following my most recent reread. It's obviously just not for me. I find Jane Austen to be very hit-and-miss. I have read 3 books by her so far and have only really enjoyed one which was Northanger Abbey.

message 39: by Gail (new)

Gail (appleshoelace) | 779 comments I definitely plan to reread Pride and Prejudice to see if I feel differently about it now. I find it quite fun to reread books I had a certain opinion of as a teenager (whether good or bad) and see how my response has changed. Sometimes it hasn't - I am rereading Wuthering Heights because I loved it as a teen, and am finding most of my friends seem to hate it, but I still love it! With Pride and Prejudice, my dislike was because I detected (rightly or wrongly) a bit of snobbery in the author and that put me off.

message 40: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20275 comments I think the snobbery aspect of many of the classics is what puts most people off, Gail. Even Sherlock Holmes is a snob sometimes. I think it was just the era. People who always had servants to work for them always had those attitudes.

message 41: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 1733 comments I never got a hint of snobbery from Jane Austen though I definitely get a feeling that she's laughing at the people she's writing about.

message 42: by Gail (new)

Gail (appleshoelace) | 779 comments True - but with most I can overlook the attitudes of the time and see the bigger picture of what they are portraying. Somehow with Jane Austen I couldn't - it seemed something more than cultural norms with her. Possibly snobbery is the wrong word for what I mean. But I need to read Pride and Prejudice all the way through to know - I can't really judge her based on reading only the first couple of chapters.

message 43: by Gail (new)

Gail (appleshoelace) | 779 comments Dawn, yes, that is possibly what I mean - I'm not talking about the kind of snobbery of people who have servants, but more an attitude of laughing at everyone in a kind of superior way. I've enjoyed other novels where the author is having fun with their characters, but with Austen there was something about her attitude (or what I perceived to be her attitude) that was somehow different.

message 44: by Mariab (new)

Mariab | 3059 comments Gail wrote: "Dawn, yes, that is possibly what I mean - I'm not talking about the kind of snobbery of people who have servants, but more an attitude of laughing at everyone in a kind of superior way. I've enjoye..."

I think precisselly because she laughs at her own era (and people) is the reason because she is so great

message 45: by Rusalka, Moderator (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 17566 comments Mariab wrote: "I think precisselly because she laughs at her own era (and people) is the reason because she is so great "

Entirely agreed. I love P&P as it is such a funny, biting book.

message 46: by Gail (new)

Gail (appleshoelace) | 779 comments Does she laugh at herself as part of the era, or does she see herself as somehow separate and better? And is it an affectionate laughing or a snide laughing? That's what'll make the difference for me. I'll definitely have to reread it and see.

message 47: by Gail (new)

Gail (appleshoelace) | 779 comments We should do it as a group read sometime! I'm thinking there must be more to it than laughing at her characters (both as a reason for liking her and a reason for disliking her) as plenty of very different authors laugh at their characters (Chaucer, for instance, and George Eliot, and even Emily Bronte).

message 48: by Mariab (new)

Mariab | 3059 comments I dont think she laughs at her characters (like Chaucer, or even more, like Flaubert in Bouvair et Pecuchet). It seems to me that when a author is laughing at her/his character, he or she positions those characters in a sort of "disruption" with the world they are in. Like they don't entirely belong. But when the autor makes social critic instead, the character is well adapted to the world, like all those snobs in Pride and Prejudice
I think Jane A. was an outsider in her own time.

message 49: by Gail (new)

Gail (appleshoelace) | 779 comments I've definitely heard people say Austen was an outsider in her own society - and some people suggest she may have been on the autism spectrum, which makes me more curious to read her. Although surely it's possible to laugh at characters who are well-adjusted in a world in which you are an outsider. Outsiders can laugh at social conventions and the people who conform to them. Mariab, you said earlier that she was laughing at her own era and people - would that not include laughing at her characters as part of that?

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