I’ve read many, many books in my lifetime. Probably hundreds, maybe thousands, especially if you consider the fact that I’ve even read some of the same books numerous times (the Little House Series comes to mind).
Then there are those books that I just couldn’t get through no matter how many times I picked it up and told myself that it was a classic, or that it must be good if others said so, or that it won an award and was somehow deserving of my time.
The Catcher in the Rye comes to mind.
The first time I tried to read Salinger’s critically acclaimed novel was in the ‘80s when Winona Ryder said that it had saved her life. I was a big Winona Ryder fan back then. Her roles in Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael and Heathers solidified her in my mind as an authority on teen angst, and therefore, someone who knew the novels that would appeal to my generation.
So, I checked out a copy from the public library (it was banned at my high school) and attempted to read Holden Caufield’s struggle with depression and insanity. And you know what? I don’t even know if that was Holden’s real deal! I had only heard others describe Holden’s issues; I couldn’t get past the cussing to appreciate his story.
The Catcher in the Rye wasn’t the only book I couldn’t motivate myself to read, regardless of the raving reviews. I chose to avoid the whole Harry Potter series on principle. Just because everyone else was jumping off that bridge didn’t mean I had to. I did, however, totally enjoy the movies.
I attempted to read Fifty Shades of Grey, but was bored out of my mind with the first forty pages I downloaded free on my Nook.
Surprisingly, I did make it through all four Twilight books once, but I have yet to read either of the sequels (Bree Tanner and Rising Sun) though they are sitting in my stack of “to reads.”
I didn’t read The Host, either. Sci-fi’s not really my thing.
So, what’s my point you may ask? I don’t really know if I have one. I think it may be just to point out that sometimes it doesn’t matter that we haven’t read what others consider to be worthwhile reading. Maybe it’s enough to say: I picked it up, I read the blurb, I even read the first forty pages and decided it wasn’t worth my time at that moment. Does my refusal to read it make the book less valuable, less of a masterpiece? (In the case of Twilight or Fifty Shades…, definitely.)
Nonetheless, to choose not to read something is just as much an exercise of literary criticism as reading something for the sake of it being popular.
So, what have you chosen not to read lately?
And according to whom