This week's BTT topic:
What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read? The one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why.
Well, right away, I'm going to ignore all those books I was assigned in English classes in my youth - the "classics" that all my professors were confident I couldn't possibly live without reading - and all those self-help and love-your-guru books we were all expected to read and live by, back in the '60s and '70s. Some of those were quite, quite awful, though highly recommended.
The more I've thought about this question, the harder it is to come up with an answer, because generally I don't waste a lot of time reading books I don't like. I've been out of school a long time now, and I'm no longer working; so the reading I do these days is purely for my own pleasure. And if a book doesn't totally engage me by the time I've read a chapter or two (sometimes twenty pages or less is enough to judge), I usually put it aside and move on to something else. Also, I'm not one to read a book just because "everyone" is praising it. I almost always try to find out as much as I can about a book before I add it to my "must read" list.
There are authors whose work I don't exactly dislike, although I have a hard time getting through it. Virginia Woolf, for one. I loved Orlando and I thought To the Lighthouse was a fine book. But I've never really been able to enjoy any of her other work. I can appreciate the artistry, but it just doesn't move me the way other writing does. A.S. Byatt is another writer who comes to mind – probably because I just finished struggling through her book, Angels & Insects. She's a fine writer, and I did enjoy parts of the two novellas – at least enough to keep reading. But, overall, I found it pretty tedious – exactly the way I felt about her Possession a few years ago; and I think I must have been the only person on the planet who didn't love that one.
I always used to say The World According to Garp was the worst book I'd ever read, and it was a huge best-seller. I don't say that anymore, though. Mainly because it was a lie – I disliked the book so much I never finished it, so I can't really claim it as a book I've read. Hmmmm. That might be a good question, too. What's the best/worst book you never read, but claimed you did?