Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Books I Didn’t Really Like, But I’m Still Glad I Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature brought to you by That Artsy Reader Girl.

It has been a long time since I’ve written. Since that time I’ve spent 3 weeks in Taiwan and 10 days in Paris. I’ve got travel posts coming, but I thought today I’d start with a book post.

This week’s prompt is about books that you didn’t really like but you’re still glad you read. I feel like this can be applied to lots of things I read in college, but I included only one college book to make it feel a little less like a required reading list.

So here are five books I’m glad I read even though I didn’t really like them, in no particular order:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe 

My friend and I read this at about the same time, in an effort to get through some of the classics that had been on our shelves and our lists for years. I actually ended up enjoying this book (sort of), but the beginning was touch and go for me. I’m glad I stuck it out because I think it’s an interesting and influential piece of fiction that shows that being an abolitionist did not mean that a person was not prejudiced. Stowe paints a sympathetic portrait of her characters but still indulges in comments that I consider to be racist. I do, however, think that the character of Uncle Tom has been twisted throughout the ages. I don’t think he’s nearly as obsequious as he’s made out to be in references. His resistance is quiet, but it’s clearly there. Anyway, this book is worth reading just for a better understanding of that time period and parts of our cultural heritage.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

This is another book my friend and I read together. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it (and I didn’t), but I stuck it out so that I could check it off my list. It’s not that it’s a bad book. It’s actually a really interesting look at mental illness and how sometimes the systems that are supposed to make people feel better just end up contributing to the problem. But I don’t love Kesey’s writing style, and I thought the book was not nearly as good as another book that I’d been avoiding from about the same time period, Catch-22, which was far more enjoyable and interesting.

Ulysses by James Joyce

This is the college one. I picked this one over some of the other books I read in college because it’s just over the top unlikable. And over the top in many regards. But reading it (and finding ways to interact with it) felt like a huge accomplishment. It’s one of those books that I have a really early memory of–I found my grandfather’s copy of the book and thought it was like The Odyssey. Two paragraphs told me I was wrong (though not totally because this book follows The Odyssey in many ways), and I didn’t think of the book again until I took a James Joyce class in college. Yes, I am a glutton for punishment. But it didn’t seem right to graduate with an English degree without this modernist on my transcript. It would have been like not taking a Shakespeare class.

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

I’m not going to say that this book wasn’t good because it was. It’s a well-written story about Native Americans and colonization.  The characters are engaging and well-drawn. My real problem with this book is that I don’t like survival/wilderness stories. If you liked the film The Revenant or other works in that line, you’ll really like this book. Even though I wasn’t a major fan, I’m glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone. I try to read every book club book (unless I’ve already read it), whether or not it’s something I would pick out on my own.

Turn of the Screw by Henry James

I picked this book out for one of the wedding favors (post on that later), and I read it to make sure it was good before giving it away. Well….I didn’t really love it. The story itself is creepy and interesting, as James’s only ghost story, but the wordiness of it (sentences that never, ever end, kind of like this one here) was just too much and it destroyed all the suspense for me. Probably no one would have felt that way when the book came out, but Poe is much better at the creepy story. So I’m glad I read this book because I wouldn’t have wanted to give it to someone as a gift when I didn’t enjoy it. Especially as the potential recipient isn’t used to reading Victorian era novels.

 

Over to you–have you read a book that you’re glad you read even though your enjoyment of it was minimal? Have you read any of these books? Is your opinion of them different? Let me know in the comments.

 

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