Thursday, February 19, 2009

(Literary) Public Service Announcement

I am woefully behind here and am sitting on several half-written posts. But I saw something in the library earlier today that made me want to pop in to say one thing:

If there were ever a book that I not only wouldn't buy but wouldn't even take off the library shelf, let alone borrow, a book I would hope never, ever to be asked to read, that book might be Eve: A Novel of the First Woman. The author might be a fabulous writer, and it might be a wonderful book, and I hope she has many readers who appreciate her and a long and successful life. But it might as well have had big red lights flashing around it spelling out "Not For You, " I reacted that viscerally to it. (It's an interesting question, and I could probably make a good list of all the books I don't want to read, but I haven't reacted as strongly as I did to this one in a long time. I guess maybe biblical fiction is high up on that list.) I'm curious what categories of books other people won't read. Most science fiction and anything by Joseph Conrad are also on my list. (Re: Conrad, I've read Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim, and that was more than enough.)

Back soon . . .


Lisa said...

So no Red Tent for you, eh?

I can't think of any category I wouldn't read on principle, although there are plenty of genres I tend to skim by a lot of the time -- mass market science fiction, commercial YA, that shoppery kind of chick lit, mysteries that come in a series. But I can probably be convinced to give anything a go if it comes with a respected referral.

And as you know I have Heart of Darkness somewhere in my TBR pile, your warnings notwithstanding.

Sue Dickman said...

You know, someone I love dearly gave me The Red Tent years ago, and I meant to read it (really), but it got lost (and not accidentally on purpose--I think it vanished when I had housesitters in).

I'm halfway curious about what I'd think about Conrad now, as opposed to 18 or so years ago when I read him, but not curious enough to go back to him. I feel like I've reached my life limit on Conrad.

Give me a good mystery series, though, and I'm good to go!

Debi said...

Oh, this is a good question. I am going to have to give this some thought.

kevin m said...

Categories of fiction I would never read: a cunning idea, Sue. Does what we refuse to read possibly say more about us than that which we do read? Personally, I've never gone in much for "historic fiction," which I don't think is an apt name at all, actually. More like prosaic costume drama. Historic Christian fiction -- Eve's category? -- hoo boy. As to specific writers, it's in extreme poor taste to say so, churlish....but... well, late Updike. Criticism, fine. Occasionals, dandy. But the novels? Nope. Not for me.

Robin Aronson said...

I wouldn't want to read that book, and I don't want to read The Red Tent (I mean, the Hebrew Bible stories themselves are juicy and confusing and brilliant enough!), and it's terrible, but I have no desire to every read a page by Pynchon. I know that's terrible, but I can't help it. I don't want to read fiction with math in it.

Sue Dickman said...

I have to admit, this is making me realize that I probably have a somewhat longer list of things I don't want to read than I thought. I wouldn't say "Oh no, please don't make me" about Updike or Pynchon, but I also wouldn't go seek either of them out.

Kev, I'm curious if you'd put Patrick O'Brian in your historic fiction category. He seems like he'd be up your alley.

Mostly, I feel like there are so many books I do want to read that I want to use my reading time for them. That's also meant that I've gotten better at not finishing things I start but am not crazy about.