30 Day Book Challenge, Oct. 2013: 8 to 12

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger Orlando Furioso - Ludovico Ariosto, David R. Slavitt, Charles S. Ross

Back in the first installment (questions 1-7) I confessed that I was about to cheat and moosh multiple questions together. We now return you to the challenge, already in progress...


8) Most overrated book.

For me this is all about overly high expectations and how that can really ruin a book.
We grow up hearing about certain books, often long before reading them. I suspect that if we hadn't heard/read so much gushing that we'd not have had our expectations raised so ridiculously high. Because then you sit down with the book and say to it "go on - impress the hell out of me, prove you're worthy of all the hooha."

This is going to be a toss up between A Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby. Gatsby isn't quite fair since there was a film of it recently, and that always gets the origin book more attention. While I do actually admire Fitzgerald's writing and think it's a great book to study - I don't at all care for the story or the characters. It's the kind of book that's perfect For Discussion - meaning there's a lot of mull over, ask questions about, and have a good conversation. But as something I'll pick up and read multiple times in my life? Nope. I just dislike the characters too much. (Note: I did reread it a few years ago. Still felt the same as I had in high school.)

A Catcher in the Rye - I was lucky never to read this for class. I think that how you feel about this book depends on when in your life you read it, how you feel about Salinger (or how his work is taught to you), and perhaps on your gender. While I can relate with the concept of not being understood and being an outsider - especially during high school - there was nothing in Holden Caulfield that I could relate to at all. I found him deeply unlikable. I kept wondering through the whole thing if I boys felt differently about this - because this is very much a story I never quite could re-imagine with a female protagonist in Caulfield's place.

10) A book that reminds you of home
I was going to skip this one because I thought it would make me end up writing on an entirely different tangent - short version: when you're in the midst of an unexpected move, "where home is" becomes complicated. But then I had a thought...

My brain is always full of the last few books I've read - and I'll use Orlando Furioso again (see #7) because it's got the best story I can tell. Home isn't really a place atm - it's more about people, and my thoughts. So when I was reading Orlando and enjoying the hell out of it, I sent an email full of quotes to my father, knowing he'd be amused. He was more than amused, he was really eager to read the translation. So eager he couldn't wait for me to finish and mail my copy, he had to go buy one for himself. My mother told me a few weeks later that he kept laughing over it, and bringing it in to read bits to her. (Which she said was getting a bit old. Poor man, he needs to blog.) And then yesterday dad sent me an email about how much fun he was having with it that was mostly a thank you note, as if I'd given him the book rather than just recommended it. He also had to buy yet another copy and send it to a friend of his that he knows is also going to love it. So this one book is the center of a lot of family feelings.


11) A book you hated.

I don't know the name of it, and I really don't want to. I'm not even going to share much about it, just that it was a Sad Animal Story. Short version:

selfish owner leaves dog at kennel, never returns, dog thinks he's going home, is instead put to sleep.

(show spoiler)

Hated, hated, hated everything about it. And it was something I read over 35 years ago. I still have a very low tolerance for books that are all about the tragedy with the weakest of reasons for making the reader suffer through that kind of a plot. (I do think unhappy endings can work - they just have to be done well for me to like them. And many of them seem pointless - or worse, trying too hard to Make A Statement.)


12) A book you love but hate at the same time
I don't think I've ever love/hated on a book. The books that I read just because I knew they were bad? So far I've been amused by those sorts of books - but that's neither love nor hate, that's just reading, having a laugh, and moving on. To me truly loving a book means I'll definitely reread it - hating it means I definitely won't and you couldn't pay me to keep the thing on my shelves.


So the answer to "can I both love and hate a book" is the same answer to the question of "what happens when matter meets anti-mater?"