Today's task is to list "Top Ten Books I Thought I'd Like MORE/LESS Than I Did"
I decided to do 5 of each:
5 books I thought I would like MORE than I (eventually) did:
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coleho. This is supposed to be a fantastic great revelatory philosophical parable, but I found it to be rater trite. The only reason I got through it was that I listened to the audio book version which was read by Jeremy Irons, who has a soothing and sexy voice that I would listen to even if he were reading from the phone book.
- The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I love a good thriller and I can overlook a host of writing crimes if the story is good, but his prose defeated me and I gave up reading it after about 50 pages.
- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I didn‘t hate it – even liked it –but I suppose the praise heaped on it had me prepared for something out-of-this-world fantastic, which it isn‘t.
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Another much-hyped novel which could have been great – if it had had about 200 pages of fat trimmed away.
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I suppose I would have
enjoyed it more if I had‘t come to it having read all those fangirl ravings
about the breathtaking
romancebetween Heathcliff and Cathy and read it expecting just that. When I found only bleakness, cruelty and obsession in place of romance I was disappointed beyond belief. In hindsight I probably should read it again and reassess my opinion, but the experience was so wretched that I probably will not.
5 books I thought I would like LESS than I (eventually) did:
- An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer. This seems to be a book people either love or hate, I guess depending on which they like better: military stories or romance (in that order). I guess I listened too much to the latter camp, because I thoroughly enjoyed it and it is among my top 5 favourite Heyer books.
- The Bible. Before I was assigned parts of the King James version for a course on classical influences in English literature I had mostly just read the gospels and the bowdlerised Bible stories for children. I ended up reading all of it, not in a religious way but much as one reads a book of myths and legends. Seen as such, many of the tales are quite thrilling, and I keep coming across allusions and references in the most unlikely places that I wouldn‘t otherwise have recognised as biblical.
- The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. I was expecting something different from what it turned out to be and ended up enjoying it more than I expected.
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I expected something heavy, dry and gloomy, but found instead quite a good psychological thriller.
- Laxdæla saga. This is one of the longer Icelandic sagas, one that, for some reason, I had the idea would be dry and boring reading. This may in part have been because it was set reading for Icelandic literature at middle-school and my experience with set reading thus far had not been good. However, Laxdæla is a heroic epic full of romance, feuds, blood and betrayal and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I really had to add a bonus book, because it fits into both categories:
- Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I came to it a Dickens fan and expected it to be good, but disliked it intensely when I first read it. It was set reading for a university class I took on 19th century British literature and I suppose I really disliked it so much because it is so long and I felt we should have read a shorter Dickens novel and instead maybe two or three more novels than we did, because I really didn't think (and still don't) that 4 novels (none by Austen, BTW) and a handful of poems are enough to give one a good overview of British literature in that century. However, I am aware that age and maturity can change one's opinion and so I embarked on a rereading of it and am now reading it for pleasure and finding it quite enjoyable.