Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Frustrated English Teacher FAIL: Three books I could NOT get through...

I really tried. But like The Book Thief, The History of Love left me feeling adrift in a world of lesser quality literature. I have tried, since posting last, to read three books and each one left me feeling, for lack of a better descriptor, "meh". I wanted to like them, but was, for one reason or another, unimpressed, underwhelmed or outright annoyed at them. And so, down they went. Sadly, two of them were purchased with my own money, as opposed to a gift card or a library find. So that will teach me.


Dinner with Anna Karenina, is, in my opinion a big fat rip-off of the Jane Austen book club, but with Tolstoy. The first thing that put me off? The print is MASSIVE, and all I could think of was my former students who opted to print their essays out in 16-point font in order to fill space because they really had nothing of importance to say. I read about 35 pages, got a big pain in my ass from the soap-opera quality of it and I couldn't continue. The fear of what was going to happen to my love of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina made me slam on the breaks pretty fast. I have no idea if it would have unfolded into one of the best stories I've ever read, but I couldn't take the chance that it would turn into treacle in my hands and ruin the literary classic for me forever.





I gave the second book, Firefly Lane, 125 pages worth of effort. I liked the premise of the story: two childhood friends struggling through adolescent angst and trying to maintain a friendship in the face of their own individual identity crises. The problem? I liked it better the first time I read it, when it was called Beaches. I read Beaches with my best friend when we were teenagers and she was Cee Cee Bloom and I was Hillary Essex. We wept when the movie came out and Bette Midler sang, "The Wind Beneath My Wings". It was the ultimate "BFF" book and movie, and, corny as it may be, it's etched in my heart as such. I don't need to replace it with another book with the same premise.

Also? The 80's references made my head hurt. The author tried so hard to call to mind so many fads, clothing and otherwise, from that decade that I felt like the story got lost in the kitcsh of the time period. Yes, yes, you have a very good grasp of the fact that shoulder pads and double-wrap belts were stylish in the 80's. Bravo.



The last book I tried to read was Suite Francaise. It was good. But I couldn't finish it. The story of a collection of Parisians who flee Paris during it's occupation during WWII, I could not care about any of the characters. They all, with very few exceptions, seemed so self-centered and obnoxious to me that I couldn't make myself care one iota about how their lives turned out. So when the book came due at the library, even though I only had 100 more pages to go, I decided not to renew it. Meh.







I need some suggestions. I need a good book. Frustrated English teacher, indeed.

4 comments:

Elisabeth said...

While I've finished all the books I've started (a compulsion I have), I'm in the same boat. Nothing I've read recently has really GRABBED me. The more I read, the pickier I become. I'm thinking of reading Northanger Abbey next if only for some quality writing. An old favorite of mine that I recommend to everyone is A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.

Sarah said...

One book I read recently that I loved was A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. It is considered a YA novel but doesn't read like it at all. It is essentially a love story with a twist (check out a description on Amazon b/c I won't do it justice). The writing is beautiful, the story captivating and everyone I recommend this to loves it.

KMW said...

How about Run, by Ann Patchett? It's a good family story and an engaging read. I know what you mean about that French book. I started out liking it, but left feeling cold...

Tress said...

I'm just beginning Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It's not bad. It's not great yet, but not bad.

There's always War and Peace. :)

Oh, and I still have my battered paperback copy of Beaches from way back then...