I haven’t done one of these in a while!
March 7: Freebie: Since these are posted a bit later than usual, you get a freebie! Was there a previous T5W topic you are bummed you missed? Now would be a good time to do that topic!
I’ve decided to go with a topic that I missed when I was busy in Houston in January: Books You Disliked but Love to Discuss: Some books we disliked or they were just okay, but they still have a lot of discussion points to sink your teeth into.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: I know, I’m practically the only feminist who isn’t crazy about Margaret Atwood, but I really, really do not like this book. I know it’s deliberate, but I don’t like how the narrator is held at an arm’s length from the action, and how none of the reader’s questions about how and why this society formed are ever answered… it made for a very dissatisfying read for me. And then there’s the fact that women of color are sidelined by the narrative while their own historical experiences (i.e., slavery) are appropriated for Offred’s narrative (a white woman)… I don’t know. I think this book was progressive and important in a lot of ways when it was published in the 80s, but I’m not really sure that it holds up as the contemporary feminist bible that a lot of people see it as. But I find it interesting to discuss, because I don’t think it’s a 100% perfect or a 100% worthless book – I think it has a lot to offer and a lot to critique.
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I will gladly talk to any and everyone about this book because I’m still waiting for someone to explain it to me. I had to use Sparknotes when I read this (last year, when I was 24, holding a lit degree) and I still don’t even begin to understand half of what was going on here. Someone please tell me what the lighthouse represents.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. I had to read this for a book club, and I thought it was tremendously boring. And if there’s anything worse than reading a boring book, it’s reading a boring book for a book club. But this ended up being one of the more interesting discussions we had, particularly because someone brought up the question of the narrator’s sexuality. I remember reading this quickly and not putting too much brainpower into it, but I just assumed that the narrator was in love with Holly and it was a voyeuristic, male-gazey narrative… but then someone started talking about how they read the narrator as gay, and I started realizing just how much evidence there was to support that, and it added an entirely new dimension to the novel that I hadn’t even realized was there. I still think it’s an interesting subject to ruminate on.
American War by Omar El Akkad. This is a book that tested my resolve to never DNF if ever I read one. This was painfully dull and long-winded. However, it did raise several rather interesting questions about the possibility of a second Civil War in the US, and I think it’s interesting to consider whether or not El Akkad’s vision for how this war would develop is a likely one.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. As you know, I’m a pretty big fan of almost everything Kazuo Ishiguro has written, but this was easily my least favorite of his books. What I didn’t like about it was that it took a simple concept that would have suited a short story, and inexplicably drew it out to fit a full-length novel. Much boredom and repetition ensued. But I do find the central concept fascinating, and I loved the ending a lot, so I’m glad to talk about this book as I do see the merits in it… it just wasn’t my favorite reading experience.
What books did you dislike that you still like to discuss? Comment and let me know!