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Not liking a book vs. not “getting” a book

At my last book club meeting where we discussed The Gathering  by Anne Enright, I mentioned that some people whom I consider to be very literary really liked this book, and since I didn’t like the book, I feel like I’m not literary enough and that I should have liked it but I didn’t. I said something along the lines of, Why don’t I feel okay to just not like a book?

My friend (Hi, Becky!) pointed out that when we discussed Interpreter of Maladies  by Jhumpa Lahiri a few months ago, we discussed some things people who weren’t at the meeting didn’t like about the book (but who’d sent us their thoughts via email), and I said, “What they don’t get  about the book is…” I basically dismissed their not liking a book because they didn’t “get” it. Why do I feel the need to explain what someone didn’t “get” about a book?  

I came to the conclusion that it’s not that I’m purposefully being judgemental, but I just want them to like the book as much as I do! Maybe if I explain to them what I think they missed or misinterpreted about the book, they’ll change their minds and like the book more!

It’s hard  when someone doesn’t love a book I thought was fantastic! My mind has a hard time wrapping itself around the fact that not everyone thinks this book is great. If I think a book is great, why wouldn’t anyone else?

From now on I’m going to let people not like a book, even if I loved it.

It’s not like this is unique to books and readers, though. I don’t understand how anyone couldn’t like pasta…or garlic bread…or Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Ice Cream. That stuff is so good! How could your taste buds not like that stuff?!

Is there a book you don’t understand why others haven’t liked it? Have you ever tried to convince others about why they should have  like a book? Has someone ever tried to convince you of a book’s merits?

73 comments »

73 Responses to “Not liking a book vs. not “getting” a book”

  1. rhapsodyinbooks

    There were actually 2 books just last week where I closed the last page and said to myself, what just happened here?!!! I often don’t “get” a book and then I feel guilty writing a negative review because I figure it is just because I’m not astute enough. So with me I think it’s the other way around than with the problem you describe! I’m one of those not-getters! On the other hand, I very much DO get Brownie Batter Ice Cream.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I didn’t get THE GATHERING. I guess you could say any book I don’t like I didn’t “get”. *sigh* I WISH I appreciated each and every book. I guess some just don’t speak to me.

    [Reply]

  2. Laura/BookingIt

    I’ve had several book club meetings where I went in disliking a book, and came out merely not liking it a lot. I appreciated my fellow members helping me “get” the book, to see what I may have missed.

    I doubt anyone will convince me to LIKE a book this way, but I can respect it more.

    [Reply]

  3. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    Like I said on Twitter the other day, it’s really hard to accept that people don’t like a book because when I love a book it’s such a personal thing. Sometimes it’s the identification with the characters, the turn of the phrase, something that binds me to that book more strongly than another story.
    Having said that, I haven’t liked books others loved and that’s okay. And it’s okay not to like the books I love, even if it crushes me just a little. 🙂

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I didn’t realize this had been discussed on Twitter. Guess I’m not as ahead of my times as I thought. 😉
    I totally agree with you that it’s hard when someone else doesn’t like a book you loved because reading is very emotional. At least for me, I get very attached to characters, and when someone doesn’t like a book, it’s like they don’t like my friend. I get over it, but admit it’s hard not to try to convince someone to like what I like. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Amy @ My Friend Amy Reply:

    ha, well not in these terms. I just happened to remember where I had said it recently. I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of why we love the books we love and what it means when others don’t and how that ties into recommending books, etc. 🙂

    [Reply]

  4. Literate Housewife

    If someone else doesn’t like a book I loved, I usually want to know why. Not that I necessarily think I can talk them out of not liking the book (or like it less than I did) – I’m just wondering if I’m not picky enough. I think the truth of the matter is that every book falls somewhere in my own spectrum of enjoyment. My spectrum is unique and it fluctuates. Another factor about “getting” or like a book is what would your thoughts have been x months ago or x months from now? You can never be certain of that.

    I can’t honestly tell you what makes up a novel I love. I just know one when I read one. I think that’s also what makes conversation so important and interesting.

    Great topic!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    AH! I totally know what you mean about wondering if you’re picky enough. Even more than that, I sometimes wish I could be more literary. Like I would *like* to be able to enjoy The Gathering or An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, but I just can’t seem to be able to.

    And I also wish I could like certain books, but for whatever reason (life experience, etc), I just can’t relate.

    [Reply]

  5. Jeane

    I’m used to people not loving the same books I do- after all, I’m crazy about animal books, and that’s not most people’s interest. But there’s been many times I’ve tried to read a really popular book and just don’t get why everyone else loves it so. Sometimes I feel left out! Sometimes I think I’m missing something, it’s all going over my head. Now I just shrug and move on to the next book… we all have our different tastes.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    HA! Sometimes I feel left out too! I *know* I must be missing something, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is.

    [Reply]

  6. Alexia561

    Good topic! Have to agree with the previous comments as we all have different tastes. For instance, I once didn’t finish reading a best seller because I didn’t like the plot or the characters. I posted my views and tried to explain why I didn’t like it. People didn’t appreciate that I didn’t think this book was the best thing around. Oh well…

    While it is hard when someone doesn’t like a book that you loved, we have to remember that different people like different things. My mother likes Danielle Steel, while my father likes old-school science fiction. I, for one, like Edy’s Drumstick Sundae ice cream more than Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter ice cream. *L*

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    You don’t like the Brownie Batter Ice Cream? Mon dieu! 🙂

    [Reply]

  7. Kim L

    I don’t understand how anyone can not like ice cream. I just don’t. Anyone who doesn’t like ice cream is totally WEIRD.

    It’s funny that your book club is reading (or did read recently) The Gathering, because I JUST finished that for my bookclub too! And here’s the thing. I really liked certain parts of it. But there was no freaking plot! I mean, not even a hint. Actually, it is surprising I even finished it at all. And I was kind of weary of the writing style by the time she got to the point, so it didn’t really resound with me.

    I agree though, I want people to love books I loved, and sometimes I just want to explain what I liked so they’ll like it too. But taste is so individual, it is impossible to force, and I agree, I have to let people not like a book I loved so that I can not like a book they loved.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Kim, I wish we were in the same book club. Most didn’t finish it, and those who did finish it liked it. I thought it was ridiculous and that the narrator was unreliable. Anyway, I won’t get into it here because I need to type up a review, but…blech!

    [Reply]

  8. Sheila DeChantal

    I think I see this most in my bookclub. There are currently 18 of us and its not like the early book club years when 7 or 8 of could really talk out a book. Now the whole dynamics are different and when I read a book I LOVE… I am always shocked to find someone who just, as you said, didnt get it.
    One that comes to mind is The Book Thief… I loved it and a girl in my book club who I really respect her taste and views on books… did not. I thought the language was brilliant…. poetry…
    she looked at me like I was off my rocker…
    Oh well… makes for an exciting review! 🙂

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I agree that when people disagree about a book, it makes the discussion better!

    [Reply]

  9. Lisa

    Well, you’re totally right about pasta, garlic bread and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, so the people that don’t like the books you love must be wrong!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    HAHA! Love you, Lisa! 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Christine

    Books are so very personal. I have often thought “there must be something wrong with me/them” when there are disagreements about books. Sometimes a book just seems so simply perfect what is there not to like. My good friend recommended and let me borrow a book she adored. I couldn’t make it 1/3 of the way through. Just not my cup of tea! shh I haven’t told my friend yet!!!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I’m absolutely fascinated by the fact that one person can love a book and another can hate it. Kind of blows my mind. (I know…I’m easily amazed.)

    [Reply]

  11. Sheri

    Yah know… I read Yesterday’s Weather by Anne Enright because People Magazine gave it a top notch review. I hated it. She’s just not my cup of tea.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Good to know! I won’t be seeking her out, then.

    [Reply]

  12. Alyce

    Sometimes there are books that I “get” – I know that they are great literature, but that doesn’t mean that I enjoy reading them or liked them in any way. Take “Of Mice and Men” for example. I know it’s great writing, but I detest the book and wouldn’t read it again if you paid me to. It’s just too depressing. Then there are times when I just don’t “get” the book, and no amount of convincing is going to change my mind. (Maybe someday I will read Ulysses and actually “get” it, but I’m not holding my breath.)

    I also think that for many people a good read consists of a “feel good” read. Something that is fun to read, moves quickly, and doesn’t take a lot of work. I know there are days when I love a guilty-pleasure feel good read.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    That’s a good point, Alyce. Sometimes I can see that a book has good writing, but for whatever reason, I don’t like it.

    [Reply]

  13. uncertainprinciples

    Catcher In The Rye – Everyone says it’s “overrated”, and I look at them going: Nooooooo, it’s one of the best books ever written! I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t love Holden Caulfield as much as I do!

    As for The Gathering – that was the worst book I attempted to read this year. I gave up after page 80 – it’s the only book I haven’t finished this year, because I absolutely hated it.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Gee, I can’t wait to write my review of The Gathering! It will be like the book group discussion I *wish* I’d had. 🙂

    [Reply]

  14. claire

    I have a very good friend and another best friend who I’ve recommended my favourite books to (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Umberto Eco, Jose Saramago) and they got bored with them. I still love them, though, and now I know what kind of books to recommend them. Something that may not be on my top twenty reads of all time, but I enjoyed and know they’ll appreciate (The Thirteenth Tale or Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, for example).

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Knowing what a person likes makes a huge difference, because then you won’t be surprised when they don’t love what you love. That situation is easier for me than when someone who has similar taste as me doesn’t love a book I love. 🙂

    [Reply]

  15. Nish

    I used to do that all the time. I actually used to judge people based on their taste in books. And you know what, I finally came to realize that we are all different people, so of course, we all like different books. I am a lot more relaxed about it now.

    Coming to The Gathering, I read it, didn’t particularly enjoy it – child molestation, alcohol, and suicide make rather grim topics. But, I still finished the book, and I did like the writing.

    That said, I would not really recommend the book to anyone. It is just not everyone’s cup of tea!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I had to giggle when you said you wouldn’t recommend The Gathering to anyone, because it was recommended by TWO people in our book club. I think I’m in the Twilight Zone. 😉

    [Reply]

    Nish Reply:

    hehe…well, you see the book’s material is so very depressing that I would really hesitate to recommend it. I really hate to get anyone down

    Another book, which I liked but would not recommend is “The Hours” by Michael Cunningham.

    For such books, I upfront say “I liked it/did not mind it, but it is not for everyone”.

    [Reply]

  16. Alipet813

    I totally agree with you on this. It is so hard to accept when someone doesn’t like a book that I adore. I just think that they must have really missed something. I am that way to myself too. I didn’t like Edgar Sawtelle. I was just upset with the book so I went to discussion boards to figure it out. I wanted to make myself like the book. I almost convinced me. LOL
    I also do that with food. Had a friend in HS that hated pickles I would always say how can you say you hate pickles there are many flavors have you tried them all??? She hated that!
    I am always telling myself that it is ok to have different tastes, but when you really love something it is hard to get why others wouldn’t too.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    YES! I will try to figure out what I was missing in a book if I thought it was well done but I just didn’t like it. To be honest, when I sat down and talked to the author of WATER GHOSTS, the book finally made sense to me. I went from clueless about what the book was talking about to knowing what the book was about and being willing to read it again to see what more I could get out of it (though unfortunately I don’t have time to reread it right now).

    [Reply]

    Anna Katterjohn Reply:

    Side note: I was frustrated that I never liked pickles (they seemed so crunchy, refreshing, and fun to eat), that I made myself like them. I started eating them, first by rinsing off some of the vinegar so they were less potent, and now I like them! A bizarre goal, I know, but I am glad that I can enjoy them now 🙂 This would probably take a lot more time and effort to do for a book or a genre, too.

    [Reply]

  17. Monica

    I understand what you mean about wanting someone to like it as much as you did. My boyfriend is reading The Time Traveller’s Wife right now, which I loved and read back in 2007… but whenever he comments about the book I feel the need to defend it because I enjoyed it so much and I’m worried it’s not his style.

    But at the same time (just to be the devil’s advocate to your post) what if they “get” it differently. You’re assuming they didn’t like it because they “misinterpreted” it, but there are many interpretations to literary works. Maybe they just didn’t like it?

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Well, you’re right. People can not like a book. It happens. It’s easier for me to understand why someone may not have liked a book when I didn’t love it, but THE LIKENESS or BEL CANTO I loved so so so so so much, that I can’t understand *why* someone wouldn’t like them. It’s an emotional response, not a logical response. 🙂

    [Reply]

  18. bybee

    When I was in my 20s I read a bunch of Jane Austen. I really liked Pride and Prejudice but I didn’t “get” why Austen’s appeal is so widespread. Now that I’m in my 40s, I both like and get Jane Austen.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Hmm…I wonder if I would like Jane Austen now? I read her when I was in my teens and enjoyed it, but I wonder if I really would like it now. I’ve had such bad experiences with re-reading books, that I hate to test the waters, even with Jane Austen.

    [Reply]

  19. Meghan

    I don’t really have anything new to add, but this is a very thoughtful and interesting topic. I too find it hard to understand when people don’t love what I love; it’s just so obviously loveable to me and I’m so attached to it that sometimes it feels like an affront even if it’s not intended to be.

    I do think, however, that it’s certainly possible not to like a book because you don’t get it. I know I’ve definitely read books where if I had thought a little more deeply about them, I probably would have liked them more. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been “meh” about a book and had a discussion in a class that made me turn around and appreciate it. Maybe not totally love, but it makes a difference. That said, I do try to respect other people’s dislike of books, even if I really want to persuade them otherwise!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    You’re right about being able to appreciate a book more after discussing it in class. I have to say, I think that is a huge advantage of that kind of setting: everyone’s read the same thing at the same time, and you have a (hopefully) knowledgeable teacher (moderator) leading the discussion. If I could be in an English class right now, I totally would do that.

    [Reply]

  20. Lauren R.

    I totally agree with you here, but remembering back to the hellish days of high school/early university English class, “getting” a book too much can be a bad thing too. I looooooooved Hamlet and Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God…until we had to discuss the symbolism and themes ad nauseum. I really think the only novel that I still loved after a thorough English-class beating was Allende’s House of the Spirits. But I love her novels even more when I read them for myself rather than for class (the lack of deadline helps too!)

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    ACK! You’re right that the symbols and deep meaning and social commentary that gets pulled out of a book in an English class can be…tiring. It’s really nice to just enjoy a book. Okay, I take back my last comment that I want to be in English class again.

    [Reply]

  21. nikki

    It kind of kills me that my husband just read Mysteries of Pittsburgh, one of my very favorites and when he finished he was like, “Eh. It was OK.” And in my mind, I’m thinking ‘How can I be married to someone who doesn’t see that brilliance?’ Then I have to tell myself that it just isn’t his cuppa tea. It’s probably worse for people like us who get so emotionally attached to books!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    My husband and I are currently watching Big Love, and I love it, he thinks it’s just okay. I really don’t see how he can’t like it more! It’s fabulous! 😉

    [Reply]

  22. Trisha

    I love this post and I’m going to try to take it to heart. I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince other people to like books. Afterall, I teach literature to college students, the majority of which are not English majors. I know the phrase, “I can’t believe you didn’t like it”, has come out of my mouth on multiple occasions. But I have to agree with you – it’s okay for people to not like a book. I didn’t like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle or Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, and those are considered “high literature” by the lit snobs, so I guess I have to sit back and let my students not like what I assign them to read.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I’m sure I’ve said, “I can’t believe you didn’t like that book” to someone at some point as well. It’s hard not to when reading is such an emotional experience! I have to say, that I actually remember (and whether this is true or not, I don’t know) like HEART OF DARKNESS, but it may have been because the teacher was able to explain things as we went along. For some books, I think that helped me enjoy books I probably wouldn’t enjoy if I read them today.

    [Reply]

  23. Anna Katterjohn

    Great post! My current concern is struggling to accept the books I do like. I was an English lit major in college, obsessed with Toni Morrison, Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald. Now that I work full time, I’m really starting to get into genre fiction and yet can’t shake my old book snobbery (which I at least got past enough to explore genre fiction by working for a magazine for libraries–one place that certainly avoids judging reading tastes!). I’ve been trying to dip into more literary contemporary fiction, but I just don’t think I’m ready for it! Still, I can’t decide wheter I’m missing out on some deeper intellectual stimulus (or whatever literary fiction is supposed to give you) or if reading is reading is reading (and reading is good).

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I’ll admit, it’s hard to break book snobbery. But the interesting thing is I’ve gotten more picky, because the more I read the more I realize what a good book really is (for me, I mean).

    [Reply]

  24. Carrie

    I mostly have these arguments about the classics. I love Hemingway, but I know many people who hate him. Conversely, I can’t stand The Great Gatsby, and I know tons of people who think it’s brilliant. Sadly, none of these arguments have led to a change of heart.

    I love the distinction between disliking a book vs. not “getting” it… I may have to blog about this myself!

    (Oh, and I can’t even have a discussion with people who don’t like garlic bread. Some differences cannot be bridged.)

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Let me know if you blog about this topic, Carrie! I’d love to read it. 🙂

    [Reply]

  25. Lori L

    I didn’t like The Gathering either. I can’t think of even one book that would be universally loved. I don’t think it’s possible since we all have different life experiences and tastes. Even your age can influence how much a certain book appeals to you. I agree with you, it’s perfectly acceptable for people to love or hate the same book.

    [Reply]

  26. melanie

    I once moderated a discussion of Lolita. I love and get the book. Others got the book (in their way, or maybe, in my way?) but hated it. Others hated it and didn’t get it.
    All are good.

    (Except Hemingway.)

    [Reply]

  27. Memory

    Gregory Maguire’s WICKED is one of my very favourite books, and I don’t know too many people who enjoyed it. When I bring it up, most people wrinkle their noses and tell me how much they disliked it. It takes everything I have not to start gushing about the way Maguire both subverts and celebrates children’s literature, and how he deals with the age-old question of good vs. evil, and blah blah blah blah blah. I love it, and I want other people to love it too, and it’s been SUCH a struggle for me to accept that most people just don’t. I’m getting better at it now, though. (I think. I hope).

    [Reply]

  28. Kate

    this happens to me to. Like take my friend Janet for example. Harry Potter is one of my favorite series, and she read the first one and hated it. Granted, the first one isn’t the best, but it is still good. I have argued many times with her about it, and gotten nowhere. I have given up on that now, but it still frustrates me that someone I know is mising out on this wonderful piece of heaven.
    I have read other comment and i agree that I don’t know why I like/love certain books, I just do. The same with books I hated. If it’s the fact that they bore me, or that I don’t like the writing, or as you were saying I didn’t get it, I can never tell. I wish I could all books to enter my possesion, but it seems to be a fact of life that I can’t.

    [Reply]

  29. sarah pekkanen

    It’s interesting — I know someone whose personality couldn’t be more different than mine. We probably wouldn’t even be friends, except for the fact that we have the exact same taste in books. Strange, huh? I guess there must be more in common than meets the eye…

    [Reply]

  30. Teri-K

    I just joined technorati and found your blog. I appreciate the distinction between liking a book and getting it. I get Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness, but I don’t like them. Sometimes I like a book but am not sure I got it. I loved Hitchhiker’s Guide from the first read. I still get the feeling maybe I don’t get it. I’m not sure that it matters.
    Besides, how can we know what the author really intended?
    Didn’t a lot of us love Tolkien when we were younger — how much did we understand?
    Personally, I just like seeing someone read something — especially if it’s not Twilight.
    I hope to talk to you more.

    [Reply]

  31. Beth

    I guess I’m in the minority in that I don’t normally read “literary” books. They’re always downers and I’d rather use my energy elsewhere. If this makes me “stupid” in the literary crowd, so be it. I hate it when people try to convert me to a book author that they like that I can’t stand (like Jane Austen), just because educated people “should” read it. As if!

    That’s why there are so many books out there, so everyone can find books that they love. Life is too short to read stuff you don’t like.

    [Reply]

  32. diane

    I can’t comment on The Gathering (have it but have not read it). I know what you mean though as I’m one of those who has a hard time understanding why some readers don’t see things the same way as me. I LOVED The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, but several people have really disliked those books…why?? no clue here, but I attribute it to “wrong book/wrong day”.

    So now when someone doesn’t like some book I thought was great, I just think…hey “how could my husband not love great coffee or tea”? doesn’t everyone?? apparently not LOL

    Oftentimes, my frame of mind and the particular subject matter will make all the difference for me. So now when someone feels differently about a book than I did, I just

    [Reply]

  33. Dreamybee

    It’s certainly OK for someone to not like a book that you loved (but oh so frustrating-it IS like they don’t like your friend!), but I don’t think that means you can’t make a case for your book. If there’s something particular about a book that made you think about something in a way that amazed you, changed your mind, opened your heart, etc., and someone else just didn’t think about it the same way you did, you might be able to explain what you loved about it in a way that would make them see what you saw in it. Or they might still think it was just OK. =Z At that point, of course, I think you just have to let it go.

    I felt that way about Life of Pi-it sent me into the ugly cry, kicked me in the stomach, I was just blown away by it. My cousin thought it was…alright. Whaaaa….??? On the other hand, the big buzz around that book when it came out was that it was a story that would make you believe in God. I certainly thought that was overstating things, and that wasn’t why I loved it at all, but after a conversation about it at Chain Reading I can at least understand how that might be true.

    [Reply]

  34. Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books

    Yeah, I need to lighten up when a friend doesn’t like a book I’ve loved. I feel defensive, both for myself and for the author.

    Yet, people still accept me, even though I don’t “get” the attraction of some genres (notably, I feel in the dark about paranormal and vampire fiction, but I know there’s a huge following among my IRL and online book buddies)

    Now, how you can’t embrace tomatoes … that I can’t understand! 🙂

    [Reply]

  35. EMILY R

    I HAD TO STOP READING THE HOURS ABOUT 50 PGS THRU. AND I JUST COULDNT GET INTO READING LOVELY BONES.

    [Reply]

  36. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    I guess I’m pretty open to others’ reasons for not liking a book, and I will listen to them. But I expect the same respect, to generate a good dialogue about a book. I almost prefer if someone didn’t like the book because on some occasions I may love something about a book so much that I am blinded to its faults. does that make sense?

    [Reply]

  37. melanie

    For the record, I dislike The Gathering too…ugh. Well, I can never understand when people don’t like my favorite book- Peace Like a River. But I also laugh when I think of a lady in bookclub who is my polar opposite as a reader. She raved about Love in the Time of Cholera – I hated it. I loved Still Alice – she didn’t. Now I look forward to our friendly bickering because I can count on disagreeing over the next selection. And really, bookclub is so much more interesting when everyone has a different opinion. I purposely choose books that I think will not be well received because I like to instigate – and I’m a lazy discussion leader 🙂

    [Reply]

  38. Nikola

    This is so true, though! I completely agree with you, but would just like to add something. Sometimes, it’s not that the people do not get the book in the sense that they don’t understand what has happened, sometimes the subject of the book is completely different than what they are used to. For example, my favorite book is Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham, which is full of different, out there characters – gays, drag queens, drug users, kleptomaniacs, etc. My mother couldn’t stand the book, simply because it’s a million miles away from her comfort zone. As a graduate of literature, she could appreciate Cunningham’s writing and what not, but ultimately, she didn’t ‘get’ the book.

    Does this make any sense?

    [Reply]

  39. Beth F

    Comment 39??? ARGHHHH, There’s nothing left to add to this great discussion.

    Sometimes I do take it personally when someone doesn’t love a book as much as I do. Sometimes that situation makes me question my tastes: Am I capable of seeing the gem among the cut glass or I am just totally incapable of judging a book?

    But sometimes I know I love a book because it hit me at just the right time or mood. Sometimes I LOVE an audiobook because the narrator was such a pleasure to listen to. So the context of my book love has to be weighed against the context of my friends’ book “meh”.

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  40. Bookish links for Saturday, August 8, 2009 | BOOKS AND MOVIES

    […] ~ Trish at Hey, Lady! discusses Not liking a book vs. not “getting” a book. […]

  41. Cami Checketts

    This is awful, but at times I’ve chalked someone’s lack of loving a book up to a lower level of intelligence (don’t tell). But I think you’re right, we all just have different tastes. I try to explain to my sons that this is a great thing. Otherwise we’d all want to married to the tall, dark, handsome, intriguing, and sensitive man. Wait, we all do!

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  42. nat @ book, line, and sinker

    a. i don’t like garlic ANYTHING, let alone bread. lol.

    b. i know what you mean–i shake my head when i see how many people don’t enjoy some of the books that i love…but people really do read books differently. i lent my well-worn copy of ‘a walk in the woods’ by bill bryson to a friend (a book i LOVE and could read 100 times and still laugh) and she returned it without finishing it. she said she didn’t like it. i was aghast! this was a GOOD friend…how could she NOT like one of my favorite books!?! and then i just came to terms with the fact that i have superior literary taste. hahahahah. kidding.

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  43. Jeanne

    As a teacher, I’ve always had to give students room to not like a book I assign. Few teachers assign books they don’t like–although I’ve found that to be an illuminating exercise, as I can be more objective about those. It’s also helpful to have something like a “common book” each year, so you can share your feelings about a book you’ve just read for the first time with the students, who have just read it for the first time, too. It’s easier to love a book you’ve reread.

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  44. zibilee

    I have this feeling a lot, because most of the books I like are kind of obscure and weird. When it happens, I just try to stay quiet and not try to convince them. While I wish with my whole heart that they would find the book in question as brilliant as I do, ultimately it’s a personal thing, and I don’t want to seem judgmental or rude. I don’t push, but I do sometimes wonder about the reader’s taste.

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  45. Jennifer

    I completely understand what you mean. when I like something, I expect everyone else I know to like it too, but that doesn’t happen. People have such drastically different tastes in reading, food, movies – EVERYTHING.

    Right now, I’m reading Catch-22. It’s my dad’s favorite book and I’m having the hardest time getting through it. I just kept telling myself “you don’t get it.” And I don’t – I find it difficult to relate to the characters and at times the scenes are so outrageous that I wonder why I’m wasting my time reading the book at all. So maybe this book is a mix of both problems – I don’t get it and I don’t like it. But still, I doubt that my opinion tarnishes the enjoyment the book had had for readers in the past and will have for readers in the future.

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  46. Jenners

    I will confess to thinking poorly (but secretly) when someone LOVES a book that I hate or vice versa. I just can’t help it. I kind of automatically lower their “rating” in my mind a little bit. But they can redeem themselves if we do share a liking of something. But I certainly don’t base my enjoyment of a person or my liking them … but I do kind of keep score re: if I’ll listen to them when they recommend something based on what I’ve thought about their previous likes and dislikes. It is hard not to do!

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  47. Susan

    I’m really late to this disussion! Jeez, 72 comments already, that must be a record! Anyway…..I’ll just say yes) people have tried to convince me to like a book; b) I have tried to convince people to like a book, and c) even though I have an English degree from University, I still think there are some literary books I don’t ‘get’!!! So it’s not just you or me…. some books just aren’t very pleasant, no matter how literary! there, let the debate rage on!! lol And if I could get everyone to like dark chocolate in all its forms, maybe world peace would reign because we’d all be filling our mouths with the goddess-given delicious chocolate 😀 and arranging for the cocoa bean farmers to get more money!

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