Booking Through Thursday: Unread

May 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 8 Comments

Here is my response to this week’s Booking Through Thursday:

Is there a book that you wish you could unread?  One that you disliked so thoroughly you wish you could just forget that you ever read it?

This question is so beautifully tempting – it’s the perfect opportunity to slam those authors we love to hate.  But I can’t say that I wish I had never read something like The Da Vinci Code, for instance, because I feel a sort of duty to keep abreast of wildly popular fiction.  So no, I don’t think there is any one particular title I would single out.

There are probably enough lackluster books in my reading history, though, to fill a piano crate.  I look back at some of the things I’ve read and I just feel sad.  I wish I had focused more on reading the classics when I was younger.  The Brothers Karamazov, in particular, is a book I am profoundly glad I got to read in my lifetime – but I could have read it that much sooner if I’d skipped some of the chick lit or the self-help books.  You know, like Women Who Love Books Too Much or Librarians Who Run With the Wolves.

I’m going to predict that many of the people who single out a certain book and wish they never had read it will choose either something disturbing or a classic they thought was really boring.  Frankly, I tend to be drawn to disturbing things, having developed my chops reading horror and true crime, so a book with a reputation for creepiness, violence, or a really harsh ending will work its way higher up my list.  The classics go without saying.  It takes fortitude.  Ire will no doubt be raised when I say that if you don’t like a classic book, you are missing something and you didn’t try hard enough, but that’s really how I see it.

Some things are better left unread.  If you are prone to nightmares, it’s good to find out ahead of time that a book has been known to shock people.  A lot of third-tier titles can just be left to gather dust.   But the time we spend ploughing through “boring” stuff that is a notch higher than our comfort level pays off in making the next challenging work that much more approachable.

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