Beginnings

Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Literary Blog Hop


A biweekly meme hosted @ The Blue Bookcase.

This week's question is:

Do you find yourself predisposed to like (or dislike) books that are generally accepted as great books and have been incorporated into the literary canon? Discuss the affect you believe a book’s “status” has on your opinion of it.

I rarely believe right off the bat that I'm going to like a book simply because it's part of the literary canon.  Of course, I hope to like it (as I do with every book I try no matter what its literary status) but sometimes I have an inkling after about 50-100 pages in that this book is just not for me and I won't force myself to continue (and I may or may not return to it for a second chance in the future).

Also, I have a hard time defining the "literary canon."  I assume the working definition includes classics and dribs & drabs from modern literature (or "modern classics").  This is a term that is very much in flux and an ongoing topic of debate, and a term I have some trouble taking seriously.  I mean...if you don't like a book from the "canon" are you less of a reader?  I don't believe so...*here ends the rant*.

So...here are the possibilities to interpreting this question (click titles for reviews):

*Books I knew I would like & still do:
Hoo boy...tons.  Some examples include: Anne of Green Gables, The Color Purple, The Diviners, The Handmaid's TaleThe Importance of Being Earnest, Little Women, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, A Room of One's OwnThe World According to Garp, and most Shakespeare plays (Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, King Lear).

*Books I wasn't sure about but grew to like:
Catcher in the Rye (whiny, yes; bad literature, no), Fahrenheit 451 (slow burning at first but turned out to be awesome), Brighton Rock by Graham Greene (deep, dark, disturbing, fantastic), and To Kill a Mockingbird (in high school, the first half was not as good for me as the second half, which won me over).

*Books I thought I would like & were disappointed by:
The Great Gatsby--now don't shout "WHAT?!" too soon at me!  It's not that this is a bad book (the symbolism and themes of class distinction are terrific) but I found the characters either too wooden or not playing enough of a part.  Characters are a big deal for me as a reader (almost as important as the story...well, okay, second to the story) and they didn't cut it for me.

*Books I didn't like but may try again some time:
Slaughterhouse-Five--I actually felt bad for giving this up but it just wasn't for me.

*Books I didn't like then & still don't now & probably won't try again:
Anything by Jonathan Franzen--I actually finished The Corrections (my general opinion is best summed up as "meh") but did not finish Freedom though I gave it my very best shot.  Also, Heart of Darkness and (mind you, this was in high school), I was sickened by the themes & events in Macbeth but I might actually try this again in my (short) side quest to read all the major Shakespeare plays (I'm down to Julius Caesar and this one).


What did you come up with for this question?

6 comments:

  1. I didn't enjoy The Great Gatsby either. This question is hard for me. I think I'm harder on books that everyone else seems to like because my expectations are higher. Although, with classics I probably have the opposite view.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I said that I will give a classic 1, 2, or 3 stars before opening the cover but it has to earn the 4th and 5th star the way any other book needs to earn it.

    New follower.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I usually will give books more of the benefit of the doubt if I'm trying harder to like them, but if I don't, I don't. There is still room for personal taste, even when evaluating great works of literature.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The classic status is merely a signpost, it just points you in a direction It's down to you whether you follow, or even if you turn away.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ugh Franzen, I completely agree.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm with you on this one!
    I admire your ability at giving up a book. I might put a book down for a while, but in my head it is still in the "currently reading" pile. It took me over a year to finish The Scarlet Letter. How do I feel about it? Was it worth it? Absolutely not, I feel like I have wasted some precious time, but I HAD to finish it. The most hilarious example remains Melmoth the Wanderer. I started it twice and the bookmark is back to the exact same place as when i stopped the first time. However, I don't feel that this one is a waste of time (for me), just a bit of a struggle.

    ReplyDelete