Thursday, December 27, 2012

When You Don't Love A Book

Jason, one of my very favorite bloggers and one of the most genuinely awesome people I know, recently posed a very interesting question to me. And it's interesting because I really do tend to only read stuff that I love. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just not a very attentive reader and read at just a strictly surface level, or maybe it's just because I don't read a book unless I'm fairly certain I'll love it. I don't really know the answer to that question. But here's the question that Jason posed to me:

Since you are so good at picking books you'll love, I'd love to hear about a book-reading experience you had where you hated the book. Have you ever read a book that left you angry, or disgusted, or frustrated with the author?
There was one book that came to mind immediately when I read that question and it was Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. I had a literal visceral reaction to a scene in that book that I thought degraded women so much and basically was pro-date rape. It was the first and I believe, only time that I ever posted my strong negative opinions about a book online in a review and it was a pretty unpopular opinion at the time and I'm sure it still is. But I haven't changed my mind on the content since then. What she wrote was clear as day to me back then and still is and it still upsets me to think about it and I haven't picked up another book by her since.

I'd say that's probably the most angered and disgusted I've ever been by an author and a book. But I've had other frustrations with authors throughout the years, sure. I've seen favorite authors go down paths that have really disappointed me.

Anne Rice is one such author. Anne Rice introduced me to literature, one could say. Sure I was reading before I read Interview with a Vampire and The Witching Hour, but I think those were the first two series that I fell in love with. And they were SO GOOD!!! She had  a certain magic that surrounded those two series. There was something special in those books that I couldn't find anywhere else. Then she converted to Catholicism. I'm NOT disappoited that she converted to Catholicism. Let me point that out. I think everyone has the right to believe or not believe in whatever they choose. What upset me is that she denounced those books. Her OWN books! And in doing so, sort of slapped her fans in the face too. Now, she's recently denounced Catholicism! She says that she still has her faith in God, but organized religion is not for her, and I can't argue with her on the organized religion front! And surprise, surprise, after that move, she goes back to non religious books and wrote a werewolf book, The Wolf Gift which I couldn't even make it through. I thought this would be the return of MY Anne Rice. But it so wasn't. It was disturbing in the worst kinds of ways you can imagine a werewolf story being wherein a love interest is introduced. And yeah...I didn't make it through. Disappointment.

Another author disappointment: Orson Scott Card. One could say that he was the reason for my love of science fiction. I read Ender's Game for a class in college and decided to go on and read Speaker for the Dead for fun and it instantly became my favorite book. I mean, I don't think I'll ever find another book that gave me the mystical experience that reading Speaker for the Dead gave me. I literally read everything the man had written (and that's a lot) in a very short amount of time after that. And then I discovered his views on homosexuality. *headdesk*. Everyone is entitled to their own views and that's fine. I'm not going to say he's not allowed to feel a certain way, though I've written about my objections to why it upsets me in the past. Mainly, it disappoints me because what I found that I loved so much about his writing is that he wrote such AMAZING characters of all nationalities, ethnicities, races, sexualities, and genders. And then I find out how he really feels. It was like a punch in the gut.

So while I generally do love most of what I read because I set myself up to love what I read, there are the occasional disappointments and temper tantrums thrown, yes :p  But I'm hoping for much more litlove to come and to continue this winning streak ;)


DesLily said...

wow, great post baby boy!! Maybe others should ask questions more often lol..

C.B. James said...

I love Interview with a Vampire, but I always thought Anne Rice was really a one-hit-wonder. It was a really great hit, though. Mr. Card, on the other hand, is an excellent writer whom I will no longer read. He's free to express any point of view he wishes, but he's not free to do so without consequences. I've spoken up in favor of my own rights and paid a price for it more than once.

Debi said...

What you said about wondering if you're just not an attentive enough reader and that you might not always read beyond the surface level--I have that worry about myself all. the. time. But it surprises me to hear you say that, as it seems to me you're very good at getting to the depths and nuances of things. I think I've improved (thanks to reading so many wonderful blogs), but I still worry all the time about what I'm missing. One example that really jumps out in my head is Ship Breaker...I read it and thought it was okay but not fabulous, and then I read Ana's review and realized just how damn much I'd missed. It was totally *my* fault that I didn't find the book incredible, and not the book's fault at all.

Beth F said...

Ack!!! Wicked Lovely? Really? I guess I was so entranced by the awesomeness of the audiobook production that I missed that scene. Now I feel that I have to back and reread the book -- in print this time.

Susan said...

If it makes you feel any better, I didn't like Wicked Lovely all that much in its entirety, it left me kind of *meh* and I haven't read the others in the series. I thought it was boring, really, nothing like everyone was raving about.

What I find interesting is how we each of us readers pick up something different in the books we read. So when Debi writes that she had one reaction to Ship breaker, and Ana another, I am fascinated because that does reveal something about each reader. Not that Debi reads without paying attention, but that she looks for something different, responds to something different, in the books she reads, than Ana brings to her reading. And that's what I find interesting. I do wish we could all get together in some magical room someplace, and just talk about all the books we've read, and compare notes. It would be so interesting to see what each of us got, or didn't get, from a book.

I really try to not let authors opinions get in the way of reading their books, but I will admit that I am devastated by Card's opinion on gays, and I can't read anything by him now. I want to, he does write interesting books, but I see my spending my dollar on their book as supporting them, and I can't support his views. As you say, how can he write such wonderful deep characters, and have this stupid religious belief in his real life?

Interesting question, and thanks to you for being so honest in answering it, too!

Carl V. said...

I was really disappointed when I listened to the audio of King Dork by Frank Portman (potential minor spoilers here). It was an excellent book and the narration was top-notch.

What disappointed me was that both encounters with girls late in the book set them up to be high school characters who acted like the be-all end-all to their relationships was that they loved giving oral sex to guys while getting nothing in return. Granted, this may have worked in that the book is told from the viewpoint of a teenage male and thus it works within the story, but given the screwed up view of women's role in sex that society portrays and the stories of younger and younger girls engaging in these mostly male-centric activities (meaning the guys get their needs met but the girls don't), it really disgusted me and frustrated me in a large way and made me not want to recommend the book. In fact I didn't review it because of this as I didn't want to encourage any young person to pick it up.