Time for some Top Ten Tuesdays goodness

Today's task is to list "Top Ten Books I Thought I'd Like MORE/LESS Than I Did"

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted on The Broke and the Bookish. I recommend heading on over there to see some more answers to today's question when you've finished reading mine.

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 romance between 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.


I wonder if we often try to push wonderful books off on teens before they are really ready to read them.

Here's my Top Ten List of Books I Never Expected to Like.
Bibliophile said…
Oh, definitely. Also, the books we enjoyed most as teenagers often turn out to be nothing special when we reread them as adults.
Maggie said…
Oooh, I like your list! I agree with you on Crime and Punishment, Wuthering Heights (have read this twice and I still dislike all the characters), and The Da Vinci Code. I may have to check out Laxdæla saga if I can find it in the library. Oh, and I loved Bleak House. I actually enjoyed The Historian, but perhaps that's because I went into it with zero expectations.

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