Books you desperately want to love…but don’t

Everyone has books they don’t love, but some of those books you desperately want to love because your best friend, mentor or boyfriend loves that book. It makes hating a particular book agonizing, at least for me, because a person I admire loves the book. It is interesting to see how what we don’t like or love can shape us as much as what we do.

In junior year of high school, my then-boyfriend handed me Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. At the time, I wanted to love it because he loved it. However, I found it super dry and boring, even though I wanted to love the dry British humor and the jokes. I could not get into the story. Adams’s characterization did not grab me.  A decade later, I want to love it because I don’t want to give up my geek card.

Another example, is a friend who told me that she doesn’t like The Hobbit. She said she read it as an adult and did not like Tolkien’s prose. Her major complaint is that Tolkien relied on deus ex machina (literally translated machine of god) as a plot device. Gandalf became the character that solved seemingly unsolvable problems out of nowhere.

However, for those of us who read the book as kids or young adults, the story carried us away and left an impression. The impression that the Hobbit left on me was that of magic, action and adventure. I credit the Hobbit as my discovery of the fantasy genre, so it is fascinating to know that I love the book in a way that my friend does not.

It is amazing to think that how and when a person discovers a book or author can affect their enjoyment of that author. I know for myself, I was an ambitious reader in middle school, and I read Oliver Twist around the time I discovered the Hobbit. I read the book and did not enjoy it. I found Dickens prose to be florid. The characters and plot were interesting enough, but I hated having to slog through seemingly endless passages where it nothing important appeared to happen. Nor have I enjoyed any Dickens since (with the sole exception of A Christmas Carol).

These days, I worry about friends revoking my geek card, because I have had a difficult time getting into Terry Pratchett. He created the series of comic fantasy novels in the early 1980s, and the series is called Discworld because the world is a flat disc balanced on the back of four elephants, which then stands on the back of the enormous turtle Great A’Tuin.
I feel like I should love his work. I want to love his work. And yet, I tried to read the Colour of Magic and could not get into it. I found it amusing, but the prose tried too hard. I couldn’t get into the story and put the book down half way through.

I can hear the internet right now, but there are so many great Discworld novels. And there are other places to get into Terry Pratchett, why did you start at the Colour of Magic? (P.S. I started there because I wanted to start at the beginning–perhaps that is my mistake.) But, how can you not love Pratchett? That particular novel did not strike my fancy and it makes me feel odd when many of my friends love those stories no end.

However, I am holding out hope. I am determined to find a Pratchett novel that I love. I borrowed Equal Rites from the library and I ended up loving it! That novel carried me away into Discworld in ways that the Colour of Magic did not.

What novel do you hate that you wish you loved?

Prompted 2.0

I counted the cash I’d taken from the ATM and turned around. My next door neighbor was standing before me with a gun in his hand.

“Are you ready to go?” Kent said, “We have a tight schedule tonight.”

I bit my lower lip. “Are you sure this is a good idea? Shouldn’t we stay and fight?”

He shook his head. “Too dangerous. Got the cash?”

Nodding, I pocketed my last hundred dollars and walked to the car with my neighbor. It was crazy to run from the best hunters.

Then again, who believed in vampires anymore? No one. Unless you’d seen one. Then you were in real trouble, like me and Kent.

Kent got behind the wheel and passed me the gun. It felt awkward and heavy in my hand. (I’d only shot one in a gun range before.) It would only slow down a vampire, not kill it. But those brief seconds could be the difference between life and death.

He started the car, turned up the radio, and drove us out of our little town. If we could run fast enough, maybe we could live another day.

 

Prompted

Two people are sitting at a table, one of them wants something the other one has.

Hermie sat at the study table in the library with the spellbook propped up in front of her while she studied for her finals. She tried in earnest to concentrate in spite of the fact that Harriet insisted on staring at her with puppy-dog eyes.

She continued to studiously ignore her sister, copying relevant pages into her notes. Professor Flameward was a difficult grader and she could hardly afford to miss a single point on this final. Otherwise, she might get less than a hundred percent in the class, and that would tarnish her streak.

Harriet began to make little whining noises.

Hermie began to move her wrist, in accordance with the diagram in the spellbook. She silently repeated the words of the spell to herself. Then she scribbled another note to herself, in the margins. The angle of the wrist had to be just so.

Harriet pulled the spellbook off of its stand.

Frowning, Hermie, huffed. “What do you want? I am trying to study.” She gave her sister the evil eye.

Harriet grinned. “Can I borrow your potions notes for tomorrow’s finals?”

“No,” Hermie said, snatching back the spellbook and placing it in its holder.

“No fair!” wailed Harriet.

Hermie said, “What isn’t fair is that last time I lent you my notes, they can back eaten through with acid. I need the notes for my own final.”

“I’ll fail without them!”

“You should have thought about that before going outside to fly with your friends instead of studying.”

“Mother will kill me.”

Hermie said, “Still not my problem,” and tried to go back to studying.

Harriet said, “But we’re twins! I thought being twinsies counted for something with you.”

“Fine,” Hermie said, with a sigh and pulled them out of her satchel. “But I want them back in tact, tomorrow.”

Harriet hugged her sister. “You’re the best,” she said, skipping out of the library.