Thursday, March 31, 2011


It's time for the literary blog hop hosted by The Blue Bookcase. Hop on over to see what it's all about. It's a wonderful way to meet bloggers with similar reading habits.

Literary Blog Hop

This week's question posed by Meagan 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.

This is tough. I think I may give a book more of the benefit of the doubt if I feel I am supposed to like it. I try harder to appreciate "great books". I may be able to understand why a book has received its kudos even if I am not personally loving it. But I can't make myself like a book just because I'm supposed to. I probably feel guiltier for not liking it than I would for not liking the latest bestseller though.

My most recent example -- Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I just finished reading this with my daughter. Over the years we've read a few of the books in this genre: Heidi, the Anne of Green Gables series, and now this one. In these stories there is an orphan or near-orphan child who is just so positive and sunny, with such natural curiosity and liveliness, that even though she gets into occasional scrapes, she wins over the whole town, including her caretakers. The caretakers include a curmudgeon and someone more kindly, or a variation on the theme. I loved Anne of Green Gables, every bit of it. But I found reading Rebecca to be a bit of a slog. She seemed to me a rather ordinary person except that the narrator kept telling me how remarkable she was. And I got a bit annoyed at how hard the narrator worked, trying to convince me of her opinion when I wasn't buying it. This is an enduring children's classic, but I had a hard time appreciating the positives (lovely descriptions, Rebecca's adorable attempts at writing) because I tended to dwell on the negatives (Her best friend has no personality but just drags around after her. Rebecca sells a man some soap and he stalks her throughout her childhood until she is almost a woman. Yikes!)

So, I might try harder to like a book that is generally accepted to be a great book. But in the end, a book's status won't win me over, only the book can do that.


  1. Have you tried the whole series of Pollyanna books? Now there's a chipper little gal! I pretty much answered the question the same way. I will give a classic 1, 2, or 3 stars before I start reading but it needs to earn the 4th and 5th star the same way as any other book does.

  2. Classic status can help if you've no formal background in literature as a kind of waymarker, but It's down to the individual to decide if the journeys worth taking.

  3. I agree with parrish's remarks. A book's status might give you a jumping off point, but if you're not personally liking the book it doesn't really matter what the status is.

  4. I guess this idea of reading something worthwhile while not liking it is really the crux of the issue for me. There are so many books out there that I know I will LOVE, that to read anything, even a classic, that I don't feels like stealing time from other reading experiences.

  5. Wow. It's like you're inside my head. My response was remarkably similar, but with different examples. Great minds, etc. etc.

  6. I haven't read Rebecca and after reading your review, I'm not sure that I would. that's the problem with "classics," isn't it? If you don't like it you feel that something is wrong with *you*.