Monday, September 22, 2014

Quick Pulse Check

I haven't been active on the blog or on my Examiner book review channel, or even on twitter and Facebook. I wish I could say this is because I'm busy with "real life." Graduate school and a part-time job are time-consuming, yes, but the main reason is because I was sidelined by illness. When I get sick, my body goes into full-on pouty brat mode and refuses to get better or do anything. And everything is so hard to do that I find myself slacking not only on online stuff and writing, but on my homework, reading, job performance, and various other functions. Basically, everything that requires effort.

I had tonsilitis, lost my voice, got it back in raspy form again, am still coughing a lot, had an asthma attack last Tuesday, and a migraine on Wednesday (probably partly due to coughing so much) and I hurt all over and *insert paragraphs of whining here.*

I don't really want this blog to become my diary, so I'll leave off there, with the promise that as soon as I feel better I'll be back.

In the meantime, I stumbled across an interesting post: Divergent Tastes in Books? by Chuck Wendig of The post challenge is to list a book you love that everyone else seems to hate, and a book you hate that everyone else seems to love. Here are mine:

Image source: This book has also been banned before...

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: This was the book in high school that everyone had to read and hated. I chose it as free reading from the library and I really liked it. I think most people hate it because it's not plot-driven, their teachers made them read it, and most modern American high school students probably can't relate to the culture the book is about or what it meant in that culture for a woman to commit adultery with a preacher.

Image source: Wikipedia.

Paper Towns by John Green. Actually, most of what I've read by John Green. I feel bad -- I really like his YouTube personality and I've tried really hard to like his books. But I am forced to conclude that they're sentimental drivel. Most that I've read use the mysterious unattainable girl as a prop in the male character's coming of age story cliche. And John Green never can seem to resist explaining the moral at the end in an unnecessary three pages or so. I hate books that do that. He's funny -- he does humor very well. It's when he tries to get all deep and philosophical that it ends up sounding forced, moralistic, and sentimental.

What do you think? Have you read either of those books? Are there books you love that others hate, and vice versa?


  1. I have to say I'm with you on the John Green books. While I've read all and definitely not hated all of them, I don't seem to ardently adore them like a lot of people seem to. A lot of people seem to regard John Green as God's gift to readers and YA or something, but I just think his writing is okay.

    1. I think people conflate him having a cool YouTube personality with his books actually being good. Which is kind of amazing -- he's managed to market his work so well and build such a fervent Internet fandom that, like you said, people adore his books almost by proxy. They seem to like his books because they like HIM a lot, and that's rather interesting. And kind of cool. Like I said, I really WANT to like his books because I like his YouTube show a lot. But they have major flaws that *fail to improve with each book,* and that bothers me more than anything. They also rely on a lot of the same cliches and plot devices and most of all he has to sit you down and explain the moral of the story at the end in a way that is very condescending for YA. Also, the same thing goes for when he'll be writing rather effortlessly in a teen voice -- and then do a very self-conscious, obvious philosophical self-insert in his adult author-voice. "Here's what you should think, kids." It's a movie voiceover. Or a teacher giving you a lecture. It just strikes me as condescending, almost like he doesn't trust the readership to think for themselves and draw their own conclusions.

  2. Well, first and foremost, get better.

    Secondly, I have read the Scarlet Letter, but a long time ago. I'm fairly neutral on it, from what I remember, though I may have a different view on it if I were to read it again at this stage in my life. But I agree with your assessment about why a lot of people hate it. Being forced to read literature is a rather efficient way to turn people off of it, in my opinion. Though I suppose it has to be taught in some way.

    1. Thanks.

      I think what turned people off literature, at least what I could remember, is being forced to read it at a set pace. You have to do that in order to get the book read for the course time, but it's a pain when you have to read faster or slower than your own natural reading pace.


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