Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Literary Blog Hop: Predisposed Books. Or something.

Alas, my lovely readers, it has been too long.  And I say that too often.  The problem is that lately I keep reading behemoths, so the time between reviews is longer, and my work schedule is making me steadily tireder (more tired?), meaning that I have to choose between reading and blogging and usually I choose reading.  Because really, how can you blog about books without reading books?

Literary Blog Hop

The Literary Blog Hop to the rescue!  I generally feel compelled to answer, especially when the question is really good (like this week's!) and am thus at least temporarily lifted out of my blogging slump.  This week, the ladies at The Blue Bookshelf are asking us:

Do you find yourself predisposed to like (or dislike) books that are generally accepted as great books and have been incorporated into the literary canon? Discuss the affect you believe a book’s “status” has on your opinion of it.

My relationship with "the classics" is, like most relationships, not as clearly defined as one might like and fraught with roadblocks, though at the end of the day we still come back to one another.  I don't exactly feel like I should like the classics because of how they're generally viewed, but their canonization does make me feel that I should read them.  I pride myself on, at the very least, being honest in my opinions and unaffected by what I'm "supposed to think," but sometimes the conflict between the two does leave me with a slight feeling of embarrassment and even guilt.  Why didn't I like it?  I must have missed something!  Maybe I should reread it (ahem)!

I think I've moved into a slightly different place so I'm just going to drag myself back.  In terms of new books that get a lot of hype, that hype can heighten my sense of disappointment.  I find that books are rarely as good as people say they are, and if I don't love a book that has been really hyped, I get so disappointed that my opinion is lower than it might have been if I'd just randomly picked it up.  This is why I have yet to read Room, though I desperately want to.  The fact that it's all hard-cover and expensive doesn't help either (I do accept literary donations).

Do literary hype and accolades affect your opinions of the books you read?


  1. I love what you said about the guilt/embarrassment! If everyone thinks this book is so perfect, why do I find it dull and the characters flat? Do I dare confess I didn't get it?

    I'll throw in my recommendation for Room. I loved it even though I didn't really expect to, given the subject matter isn't up my alley and I didn't particularly like Slammerkin.

  2. I think that as a reference point the Classics work, It's purely down to you as an individual whether a particular one appeals or doesn't. All status can do is wave the flag, It's your choice whether to acknowledge it.

  3. I often wonder if I must have missed something when other people are convinced the book is great. But then, we don't all like the same things. And sometimes with classics especially, people don't dare to give their (negative) opinion so it feels that you're the only one!

  4. I really like your response to this week's question. I find that I'll respect a book's status as canon but that it doesn't really affect whether I like it or not.

    I see from your blog that you're currently reading The Sound and the Fury, which happens to be the first Faulkner book I ever read. Read it for a class on southern literature, and while I found it a difficult read, I ended up being completely wowed by it.

    (new follower)

  5. Overly hyped books can never live up to the hype they get, and like you, I always wonder if I would have enjoyed the book more if I didn't know anything about it.

  6. I think where you are in life really impacts your ability to like, get into, or get something out of a book. I was 'that person' in English class who saw something different in the book or poem that no one else did or liked it when everyone else hated it (or in high school, didn't get it). I understand feeling embarrassed!

    As for Room... Well, it was unique and a powerful story, but there were plot holes and creepiness (both having to do with breast feeding), that I just couldn't overcome. I was not a fan.

    Great post!