Know What You Hate

Hating books is important. Nobody can like everything. There has to be books where, at the very least, you are bored as you read, each word pulling at your brain, making you want to give up. Books written in a style you despise, books with pointless plots or no plot or too much plot, books with pages of unnecessary details that you just want to rip out. And that is good. Disliking books gives the possibility to be critical, to think critically, and to question what it is that you enjoy or look for in reading.

People will not hate the same things, for the most part. You may not get along with the book everybody else has raved about. Maybe out of politeness you’ll tell them it was ‘alright’ or flat ‘good’ with no elaboration. Maybe it’s not your ‘cup of tea.’ Maybe you’ll give anybody who asks a full review of how much you hated it. Hating books, whether you shout it from the rooftops or politely avoid the subject, is natural and allows you better insight into what to pick to read next.

Of course, sometimes hated books are required reading: for school, university, a book club, or because someone well-meaning bought it as a gift. Even then, hating can be good. Considering why you hate a book, what it is that you specifically do not like, is analysing your media, even if in less of a ‘why is this metaphor here’ way and more of a ‘I loathe books with an unreliable narrator way’ (though if that is true, I do not understand you).

I can’t talk the talk without sharing a few books that I hate, and a few words about why I hate them.  I recommend trying out the same, whether online or to a friend or just in your head. It might be insightful. It might be cathartic. Know what you hate.

Some books I hate:

For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway – It is so boring. It is so long. Why it is so long I don’t know, because Hemingway is known for writing stories in six words and sentences so short that end before they’ve begun. I remember very little about it. A bridge? I can only picture a bridge. The bridge I would throw this book off.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad – Also boring. Another book I read around the age of 17 and I am thankful that I read other stuff when I was 17 too or I may not have done my English degree, because I kept reading Classic Boring Books (™). I like Apocalypse Now more. ‘The End’ is a good song. A good song not in Heart of Darkness.

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Lawrence Sterne – I feel bad about this one: I read it aged 16, gave up because it was so boring, and then years later during my degree learnt about eighteenth-century literature and what it was doing. I’ve never tried reading it again, however, perhaps because I’ve seen portraits of Lawrence Sterne and know much of a creep he looks.

Under The Dome by Stephen King – I like Stephen King. I like horror. I could not make myself finish Under The Dome. I very much did not care what happened to anybody in it. I did not feel a sense of foreboding, except at how much I had left to read of it.