I have a problem. I was brought up to never leave things. This meant I was taught politeness was a clean plate but unfortunately I’ve also interpreted this to mean when I start a book I have to finish it. As a result I’ve read some real stinkers (which are literary classics to people more capable than I am). It has occasionally also meant I’ve stuck at a slow book and reaped the rewards – Possession by AS Byatt is a real favourite of mine. As I am now dragging myself through The Lacuna, and rereading the blurb on the back to remind myself why, here’s a list of troublesome books for me:
1. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie. I feel very guilty about listing the Booker of Bookers here but I normally race through books on holiday and this lasted a whole two weeks. If there’d been a protest about this book rather than Satanic Verses I might have been supportive. I was cross about it before but in selecting an image for this I now find it has been adapted into a film…when will it end?
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – JK Rowling. I can hear the howls of indignation now. I do realise I am the only person in this world who doesn’t get the Harry Potter phenomenon. I admire JK Rowling far more as a person than for her writing and I think she really must wake up in a morning and pinch herself in disbelief. Managed book 1 and then lost the will to continue through boredom.
3. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood. This is the book I abandoned the quickest. After about 50 pages and realising I had no clue what was going on I made the decision to bail out.
4. Illywhacker – Peter Carey. This is an odd one because I really like Peter Carey. When I read Oscar and Lucinda the first time it passed me by but the second time I absolutely loved it. Maybe Illywhacker will catch me similarly…if I ever give it the chance.
5. The Porcupine – Julian Barnes. Mr Barnes is my favourite author and I’ve read everything by him. Where this came from I don’t know. The story of a communist bloc president’s imprisonment awaiting trial is incredibly bleak. Luckily this wasn’t my first exposure to his writing
6. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown. I can imagine some Harry Potter fans, just recovering from the shock of their criticism in choice two, being knocked over again by this. I am not a snob as far as reading is concerned – I’ve read my share of trashy novels and enjoyed them. But this is a triumph of marketing over writing and it’s not Dan Brown’s fault. This is an average trashy novel which I wouldn’t be so angry about if there wasn’t all the hype
7. Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel. This is almost the antithesis of The Da Vinci Code. A really good historical yarn spoiled by trying to be too clever.
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