Thursday, January 20, 2011

Literary Blog Hop – Books I Was Forced To Read

Literary Blog Hop

This week’s prompt: Discuss a work of literary merit that you hated when you were made to read it in school or university. Why did you dislike it?

The Blue Bookcase prompt is difficult for me for two reasons. I don’t like discussing works I don’t like; University was a while ago and I tend to block out books I don’t like. Part of me feels bad about not liking a novel, especially a literary work that has somehow stood the test of time, that is studied and that other people adore. I do agree with Lucia at The Blue Bookcase, however, not liking a book does create more lively discussion.

One book I’ve mentioned here previously is William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. I read it during my “Victorian Literature” class (the class wasn’t actually called that, it gave some dates, but it was the Victorian era, so that’s what I call it to make it easier). I read some great books by Dickens, the Brontës and Hardy. When I started reading Vanity Fair I couldn’t get into it. I found the characters flat and the style boring. It was made into a movie a few years ago, which I didn’t see and flopped at the box office. It was the most disappointing read in a class full of wonderful literature.

So that I’m not constantly harping on Thackeray, I thought I’d mention Canadian author Hugh Hood. I took a wonderful 20th Century Canadian Literature class. It was one of my favourite classes in University. I discovered so many fantastic authors; it made me want to read more by Canadians. In that class, we were assigned to read Hood’s A New Athens. It was boring. I don’t even really remember the plot. There were landscapes and wilderness and so much boredom packed into such a little book. I looked up a synopsis on Wikipedia that was vague; I looked at and it didn’t have one; I looked at, which had a short synopsis and it actually made the book sound interesting. I don’t know if I wasn’t “ready” to read that book or if it was just very different from the other books in that class, but I didn’t like it. Unlike Vanity Fair I’d be willing to try reading it again.

Do you like one of the books I don’t? What don’t you like?


  1. LOL! I'm also not a huge fan of Vanity Fair, but my biggest problem was that I didn't find any of the characters to be very likable, and was therefore not very sympathetic to their situations. I read it by choice though, not because I was forced to. I did see a movie adaptation of the book on TV (possibly BBC?) - about 6 hours long and entertaining enough to watch one day when I was home sick.

  2. I have a bookmark about 300 pages into Vanity Fair... it's been stuck there for over two years now.

  3. I find Vanity Fair most interesting because of my difficult relationship with Becky Sharp. She's horrible, but you also sort of identify with her. Does that make any sense? There is something similar in the reader's reaction to Emma Bovary. She's somewhere between deserving of our anger and deserving of our pity.

  4. I haven't had the (dis)pleasure of reading Vanity Fair but it's on my TBR list. Oh boy...I'm not in much of a hurry to try it now :D Here's my Literary Hop post.

  5. Hahaha. I don't know if you remember me reading Vanity Fair (and how excited I was to be doing so). It was a struggle, though - and I was somewhat underwhelmed/disappointed. Fortunately, though, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a very cogent essay and summary of the novel's importance, just a few days after finishing the book, and it put a whole new perspective on things for me - which helped. Would I read it again? No. But I definitely have respect for what Thackeray was doing.

  6. I found this book to be very dull, uninspired & sleep inducing to the extreme. To JoAnn, sacrifice the bookmark and bury it with the book.

  7. I haven't read any of those two books. I was never even tempted to read Vanity Fair and it's the second time that I read a post that makes me put the book in the "don't want to read category".

  8. I had to read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE in high school, and it bored me to tears. To this day, I don't understand what was so remarkable about the book.

  9. I haven't read it but I think I own it...?? Can't say that I'm jumping to read it now. :)

  10. I loved Vanity Fair. It does have interesting characters.

    Some books are so difficult to get into. And those put us off that author too, for always.

    And my teacher spoiled A Passage to India for me. But I did go back and loved it!

    Here is my Literary Blog Hop: Disliked Book post!

  11. Kate, I don't know if there is any circumstance that could get me to watch any kind of Vanity Fair movie/mini-series.

    JoAnn, poor bookmark, what a sad fate. I agree with parrish.

    LifetimeReader, it was more than a dislike of Becky that put me off the book.

    Teacher, Em, Melody, Vanity Fair is one book I would NOT recommend you read.

    Adam, I do seem to remember you reading Vaniy Fair and me feeling bad for you... I'd be interested in reading that essay. Maybe then I wouldn't be so hard on this novel.

    Ahab, sorry you didn't like Pride and Prejudice. That's one book I really enjoyed. But I can see how it's not for everyone.

    gautami, teachers can definitely influence how you see a book. I was lucky in high school, less luckiy in University.

  12. My read was STONEHENGE DECODED...uggh. Did anyone else have to suffer through it?

    Stop by my blog if you like to see my full answer...I also have a giveaway that isn't very literary, but check it out.