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Thread: Books You Thought You'd Hate But Didn't

  1. #1
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    Books You Thought You'd Hate But Didn't

    Okay, maybe Hate is too strong a word, but thought it'd be more eye-catching and to the point. "Books by an author or in a genre you don't normally read, but decided to sample on a whim," just felt too long.

    I had nothing better to do one day, so I picked up "My Life Undecided" by Jessica Brody and found myself really enjoying it. I don't normally go for frothy teen romances and yeah, Shayne Kingsley was way too stereotypical mean girl, but it was an enjoyable read and hey, I can relate to the protagonist. The main impetus of the plot is launched when she basically is like "I cannot remember the last good decision I ever made," and I can actually relate. Except my problem is that I get paralyzed by choices and possibilities and can't do anything. I often think I should just have strangers on the Internet decide stuff for me, since I can't make decisions, like at all, but yeah, I've been on the Internet, I've seen things, and know that strangers on the Internet can be very scary. Oh and for the record, I'm aware that choosing not to decide is in itself a choice. It doesn't help.

    Anyway, it's not high lit, not Laurie Halse Anderson, but still an enjoyable read and I recommend it.

  2. #2
    Just Another Lazy Perfectionist Brightdreamer's Avatar
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    Hmm... I've been pleasantly surprised a few times.

    The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown: The nonfiction story of the underdog West Coast college rowing team that went all the way to the Berlin Olympics. I don't care for sports, I'm not huge on history, and nonfiction's never been my preference. However, I got it for Xmas from a relative, as sort of a tribute to another relative who had died. So I picked it up - and had trouble putting it down.

    And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie: Ten strangers are gathered at a remote island mansion to pay for their crimes. Yes, I know, it's considered a classic, a masterpiece of suspense by one of the genre's top names. I have iffy luck with classics, and I don't read lots of mysteries, but when I saw the eBook discounted recently I figured I'd give it a shot, and found myself utterly enjoying it. It lived up to the hype, and holds up surprisingly well.

    Right now, I'm just over halfway through West with the Night, an autobiography by Beryl Markham, a pioneering lady pilot from 1920's/30's Africa. It's far more lyrical than I'd expected an autobiography to be, painting vivid and emotional pictures of a lost time, so I'm enjoying it more than I thought I might.

    I know there have been others that surprised me, but they're eluding my memory search at the moment...
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  3. #3
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    Thought of another one. I find most sports kind of stupid and Football to be the most obnoxious and stupid of all, but I really enjoyed Friday Night Lights, how it talked not only about football, but so many issues related to race and class along with it.

  4. #4
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    I never expect to hate anything, so I'll us your alternate title, "Books by an author or in a genre you don't normally read, but decided to sample on a whim." I have several such books on my shelf, of which the one I was most certain I wouldn't care for is a 1999 anthology called Boxing's Best Short Stories, edited by Paul D. Staudohar. One or two of the stories were just as boring as I expected, most were enjoyable enough that I didn't mind reading them, but there were one or two that were exceptional and which prompted me to keep the book. Specifically, "The Chickasha Bone Crusher" (1921) by H. C. Witwer presents one of the best drawn and most likable set of characters I've run into in any short story.

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    practical experience, FTW cmi0616's Avatar
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    Knausgaard's My Struggle, though admittedly I'm only two volumes in. I still don't know how he made the book as compelling as it is.

    The Fault in Our Stars, which WAS as sentimental as I thought it'd be, but was also well-written and technically impressive in certain respects.

    A kind of rarefied book of feminist theory, called Unpacking Queer Politics by Sheila Jeffries. The premise of her argument smelled fishy from the outset, and a lot if it is admittedly kind of bonkers, but she also makes some good points.
    Last edited by cmi0616; 08-03-2016 at 07:48 AM.
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  6. #6
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    Okay, I so far haven't been able to really get into any of Patrick Ness's other books, but I was absolutely floored by The Rest of Us Just Live Here, even if it took an embarrassingly long time for it to click and me to get it.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW sohalt's Avatar
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    Plenty of stuff I had to read for classes! (Which is why I took these classes in the first place - to force myself to look beyond snap judgments.)

    Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Thought it would be pure misery porn. And mostly, I still think it is. But Tess _is_ a great character, and the whole affair wouldn't be half as crushing, if it didn't have some moments of beauty and grace.

    Pamela or Virtue Rewarded. Still think it sucks as a romance; fascinating depiction of class warfare.

    The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music. I'm so not the type of person you'd see quoting Nietzsche, but I actually found this Appollonian/Dionysian dichotomy fairly useful. Guess you shouldn't judge Nietzsche by his fans.

    Civilization and its Discontents. Sounds more like a just-so-story than actual science, but a fun read. There's just something so intuitively compelling about the idea of aim-inhibited impulses. (Although I think it really goes in all kinds of directions, not just in those Freud harps upon, like there's also such a thing as repressive desublimation). At any rate I feel it makes a lot more sense to read Freud in a literature class than in psychology. He himself certainly quoted more writers than scholars in that particular piece.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
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    I put off reading Harry Potter for the longest time as my son, (8 at the time), kept telling me I'd like it. Didn't think I'd like a kid's story. Then I picked up an audio version of the latest one to listen to on a long car trip. It's a great way to keep the kids happy. I fell in love with it, especially Jim Dale's reading. Ended up getting the rest of the series.

  9. #9
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    I thought I would hate the Selection series, but I actually loved it. I haven't read the newer books, but I read the original trilogy a couple of years ago. I remembered thinking it would be all about ball gowns and parties ... and in a way it was, but it was also set in a crazy dystopian world and both the love interests were swoon-worthy.

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  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW Zoe R's Avatar
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    I also hesitated with Harry Potter, read the first one and wasn't hooked. Eventually picked them back up and book 3 the series had me. Was at midnight releases for the rest of them lol.

    Also, I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I finally read 50 shades of grey to see what the fuss was about, and I didn't hate it

  11. #11
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin JKDay's Avatar
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    I just finished The Island of the Day Before (Umberto Eco), which generally seems to have had quite a polarised reception in its time (Read: Some people absolutely loathed it.) It's certainly a book with no almost no respect for the reader's time and a lot of space dedicated for its own self-indulgence, but I ultimately found that style so outrageous as to be thoroughly entertaining.

    I was also a relative latecomer to Harry Potter - my older sister was a big fan, which in my formative mind meant that it HAD to be terrible.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoe R View Post
    I also hesitated with Harry Potter, read the first one and wasn't hooked. Eventually picked them back up and book 3 the series had me. Was at midnight releases for the rest of them lol.
    I hesitated to read Harry Potter because I saw the first two movies and felt the whole thing came across as thuddeningly obvious no matter what my dad and brother tried to say. But I felt I should be fair and read the third book, so the next movie wouldn't spoil me. Needless to say I was hooked and went through 3-7 as soon as I could. It was a while before I actually read the first two books, which were much more fun and magical than their films.

    Of course, it turns out the third movie jettisoned much of the third book, so...Though in all honesty, I do think it is the strongest of the movies. Yeah, it jettisoned all the stuff with the Marauders, but book and film are too different mediums with different rules. Books have an infinite amount of time, but movies, even epics like Lord of the Rings, can only get away with being so long. Just felt Alfonso Cuaron did the best job at capturing the mixture of darkness and magic of the Harry Potter books.

  13. #13
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    The reverse of this question is a lot easier to answer, but I've read a few 19th-century novels I cringed about, but felt I should do, that turned out much more interesting and engaging than I expected. A couple that aren't commonly read, but worked for me are:

    The Claverings, by Anthony Trollope
    Mardi, by Herman Melville

    caw
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