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Old 02-07-2022, 11:16 AM   #1
issybird
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Books only lying poseurs could claim to like

A few comments in another thread, specifically mentioning War and Peace and Moby Dick, got me thinking about books that people don’t really believe anyone could like, and if someone does say they liked it or think it’s good, much less great, they’re clearly both lying and pretentious.

I enjoyed both weighty tomes mentioned myself, but I grant that I see the argument. It seems to me that books that qualify share the characteristics of being lengthy, difficult, boring and (dare I say it?) classic. I’m trying to come up with my own list. Finnegans Wake is probably on it; I’ve never really tried to read it and I did like Ulysses, but when I think of reading FW for pleasure my mind just can’t go there.

So what’s on your list of great books not even an author’s mother could wade through?

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Old 02-07-2022, 11:18 AM   #2
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I was made to read "The Old Man and the Sea" in high school. I think 90% of that is an old man sitting in a boat while a fish dragged it around. I remember the English teacher admitting that he kind of hated it, lol.
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Old 02-07-2022, 11:22 AM   #3
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I was made to read "The Old Man and the Sea" in high school. I think 90% of that is an old man sitting in a boat while a fish dragged it around. I remember the English teacher admitting that he kind of hated it, lol.


And we start off with a bang! Not only did I give this five stars on GR, it made my ten-best list for 2018.

Still, fair enough. At least it’s short.

ETA: Here’s a link to the New Leaf Book Club discussion. Some were clearly in your camp.

https://www.mobileread.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=294716

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Old 02-07-2022, 12:22 PM   #4
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And Ladies of the Club

While I never finished it, and remember nothing about the 100 pages of so I did read, I do remember being bored out of my skull. This book was very popular about 25 years ago, and some of my friends raved about it. It was 1,100 pages of yawns.

Gone With the Wind

Hated every single page of this book except the last. I did finish it, it's my sister's favorite book. Had serious trouble with the slave dialogue, had to read it out loud to understand what was being said.
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Old 02-07-2022, 12:30 PM   #5
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Yeah, Finnegan’s Wake is the only one off the top of my head that I think nobody could like. I could understand getting something out of it with a group read. But sitting on your own, savoring line after line of impenetrable prose... I doubt it.

Another book I really disliked, but can admit 'maybe it's just me' is Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground. I hated the first long chunk of that book.

While we're besmirching reputations, I didn't care for Kafka's The Trial or Heller's Catch-22. Both books banged me over the head repeatedly with their ideas.

Atlas Shrugged: I think Ayn Rand is only profound if you read her as a teenager (I got through The Fountainhead). By the time I tried Atlas Shrugged, I was embarrassed by how poorly it was written (and I read and enjoy pulp).

Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury... this was likely my own failure. I just couldn't get through the first section, narrated stream of conscious by a developmentally disabled man.

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Old 02-07-2022, 01:09 PM   #6
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I could not handle The Natural or Fight Club. I enjoyed the movies but the books were unbearable.
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Old 02-07-2022, 01:29 PM   #7
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I did not like Dostoevsky's The Brother's Karamazov. While I liked Hyperion by Dan Simmons, I really disliked Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales that it was based on.

Ulysses by James Joyce
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
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Old 02-07-2022, 01:30 PM   #8
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I could not handle The Natural or Fight Club. I enjoyed the movies but the books were unbearable.
I thought The Fight Club (movie) is overrated.
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Old 02-07-2022, 01:36 PM   #9
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It's a masterpiece, when compared to the book.
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Old 02-07-2022, 01:46 PM   #10
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It's a masterpiece, when compared to the book.
I had no idea they book is that bad.
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Old 02-07-2022, 01:54 PM   #11
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Too many to count. And there are even more I haven't been remotely interested to try.

Actually I'm not a classics person at all. There aren't that many classics I've actually liked. I prefer genre fiction with an interesting story and characters. The quality of the prose alone is not enough to make me read a book, no matter how praised. I must be interested in the plot to even start.
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Old 02-07-2022, 02:02 PM   #12
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For me, of the three main qualifications as I saw them, long, difficult, boring, I think a book has to have at least two of them to meet the “lying poseur” level of (dis)likeability. I get The Old Man and the Sea and The Trial and others of that ilk; they’re both difficult and dull enough to make someone look squinty-eyed at a person who said they liked them. Ditto for …and Ladies of the Club; not difficult, but certainly long and boring. But Pride and Prejudice? It’s one thing not to like it; maybe social comedies of manners are not your thing, and it’s compounded by being set two centuries ago. However, you really can’t get that other people might actually like it? That is, a book has to be more than just boring to qualify. There has to be that element of turgidity.

I’m not singling out Jon, just a title. I rather agree with him about Infinite Jest, Gravity’s Rainbow, Naked Lunch and Ayn Rand; well chosen. But a book has to be more than just “not to my taste.”

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Old 02-07-2022, 02:11 PM   #13
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Swann's Way.

I got through it--its not actually that long--but just the the thought of reading the rest of À la recherche du temps perdu puts me to sleep.
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Old 02-07-2022, 02:13 PM   #14
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For me, of the three main qualifications as I saw them, long, difficult, boring, I think a book has to have at least two of them to meet the “lying poseur” level of (dis)likeability. I get The Old Man and the Sea and The Trial and others of that ilk; they’re both difficult and dull enough to make someone look squinty-eyed at a person who said they liked them. Ditto for …and Ladies of the Club; not difficult, but certainly long and boring. But Pride and Prejudice? It’s one thing not to like it; maybe social comedies of manners are not your thing, and it’s compounded by being set two centuries ago. However, you really can’t get that other people might actually like it? That is, a book has to be more than just boring to qualify. There has to be that element of turgidity.

I’m not singling out Jon, just a title. I rather agree with him about Infinite Jest, Gravity’s Rainbow, Naked Lunch and Ayn Rand; well chosen. But a book has to be more than just “not to my taste.”
As someone who is on their FIFTH read of War and Peace, I can see where folks would classify it as all three - long, difficult and boring. It has never been my experience, but it is for many people. Though I think the difficulty/boring scale is where your mileage is going to vary. The difficult to read standard is particularly difficult because you have readers coming to works at many different skill levels and contextual backgrounds. I tried to get another attorney I know who has almost as many degrees as I do to read War and Peace and she did not make it 10 pages. She did not have the patience for the footnotes or not understanding the history that was being referenced.

Having said that, my wife adores Hemingway and I just cannot bring myself to care. I was forced to read him for one of my degrees and I have never gotten over the dislike. It fell under the boring (and in some cases too long) for me.

I have a soft spot for war diaries personally and many folks cannot stand those. I think diaries are unique in that you have to know the history of the time you're reading to really appreciate them.
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Old 02-07-2022, 02:23 PM   #15
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A couple of Nobelists have been named and I’m going to offer up another, Patrick White. The interminable, monumental dullness of Voss! Did the committee think it was time to have a literature laureate from Australia and White was the most ponderous one they identified? I bet even the most patriotic Australian finds him a slog.
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