Before I jump back to a specific book, I want to get something out there. From time to time, I will read a famous book that everyone seems to love. I will hear overflowing praise for its depth, insight, writing style, etc., and eagerly pick up the book to find out what everyone is talking about. And on those rare occasions, despite my best effort, I just don't really care for it. I may ask my friends to explain why they like it so much, and I can even understand their perspective, but I can't seem to change my feelings about it. Maybe this has happened to you too.
These are the pieces of literature that I really wish I could make myself like. (I actually feel that way about a couple of movies too, but that's another story). These are the ones that lit-lovers are really disappointed to hear that I didn't enjoy. On the other hand, sometimes I don't mind disliking certain books because I truly don't think they are written very well or contain a lot of depth. That is a different category and not what I'm talking about. Ok, enough already... I'm stalling. Here's my list of The Ones I Wish I Liked:
1. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein - Remember the category, ok?? I absolutely recognize the intense amount of work Tolkein invested in this series. I am in awe of the depth he reached by providing detailed historys, varied characters, and new languages. I can feel the epic nature of the series; he created a whole world! But, I just didn't really like it. I couldn't feel attached to the characters, (most of whom felt one-dimensional), and I felt myself reading out of duty rather than interest. And the second half of The Two Towers nearly killed me. Is there anyone who actually enjoys those endless pages of Sam and Frodo walking through the mountains with the obnoxious Gollum at their tail? But I'm sorry, I tried!!
2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville - So many people love this one. With the bad taste of Billy Budd in my mouth, I had no intention of investing in this massive Melville text. But after enough friends pushed me to read it, even going so far as to buy me a copy and place it in my hands, I gave in and read the entire, unabridged version. I would have loved to tell everyone, "You were right all along! I am so glad you made me read this!" Sadly, though I am glad to have read it, I can't say those words whole-heartedly. Again, I recognize the aspects of it that people love. The beginning is almost poetic, and I genuinely did enjoy the first portion of the text as Ishmael felt his call for the sea and headed toward Nantucket. Moreover, the ending of the story was captivating, and I have never felt like an ending was so well anticipated. It was so satisfying to face Moby Dick in the boat after pages and pages of waiting in the sea without catching a glimpse of him. But OH MY GOSH I did not want to know that much about whaling!! I cannot get over that; I'm sorry. I really don't care to know about each knot on the boat and how to make use of every little part of the whale. There are so many chapters that have nothing to do with the plot that felt like a major chore to get through, and no matter what happens at the beginning and the end, I can't embrace the book for that dreadful middle section.
3. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - I really want to like this one. When I first read it in high school, I was happy to toss it aside in my dislike of it. However, as I continued in my literary studies, I repeatedly heard people praising this novella as one of the best pieces of literature in its time. Reluctantly, I finally re-read it, hoping that my years of literary training and analysis would bring me to love the book as so many of my peers do... It didn't work. I have talked to friends and read essays about all of the symbolism, and I guess I can understand that. But I can't shake the fact that I don't really like it, and I think it's over-rated. I didn't feel like the admiration of Kurtz was fully explained or deserved, and the meeting certainly didn't meet the buildup the rest of the story had created. I couldn't connect with the characters, and I wasn't even sure the messages were very strong or insightful in the text. Oh, "The horror! The horror!"
I'll stop here. There are actually a few more, but I read them so long ago that I'm hoping a re-reading will make me change my mind, (even though it didn't work with Heart of Darkness). I'm sure this is more than enough to make many of you yell at your computer screens and object to my bad taste. But please remember that I am not insulting any of these texts. I am putting them on this list because I DO recognize their merit, but I nevertheless can't bring myself to like them. And I have no doubt that many of you feel the same way about some of the books I love the most. I can accept that, though I would feel a little disappointed just as many do with me for the books I just listed. To each his own... :)