The Do-Over

Have you ever read a book that people say is so great, or meaningful, or whatever – and when you read it you just don’t get it? And I don’t mean don’t get the book. You understand the concept, it’s deeper meaning, whatever, it’s more that you just don’t know what all the buzz and excitement is about. I think I can hear you all out in the internet universe collectively saying, “of course.” And yes, I may be new to book blogging, but I am not naïve to reading, so I know that not everyone will agree all the time.

But what did you do about it?

I would not put myself in the re-reader camp. I love to read and like the idea of checking off books from my TBR list, so I really don’t want to waste reading time on books I have already read (whether I love them or not). But, when the topic of re-reading comes up, I can’t help but think of The Catcher in the Rye (and not just because it has been in the new so much recently with the court battle for the U.S. publication to the “sequel”, here is a recent New York Times article if you haven’t been following the issue).

So why am I bringing up these two random topics that could each be their own post?

Catcher in the RyeBack in high school Catcher was on my either Honors or AP reading list (I forget which because I can’t remember what year I read it). Both during class and even years after, when that book came up in conversation people would say how much they loved that book, how influential it was, etc., etc. But me … I HATED that book. And really, I am not someone who generally would say I hated a book, I can almost always find something in there, even if it’s not a book I enjoyed. But not in this case. I just wanted to smack Holden and tell him to get over himself. I just couldn’t understand why he made things so hard for himself and everyone around him. 

Years passed, and being a bookish person and having bookish friends – that book continued to come up. I really felt like maybe it was me, so I usually refrained from offering my thoughts about it.

Then, I’m not sure what happened, since I am not a re-reader, but I was in a bookstore, saw the book and by some inspiration decided I needed to give Holden another chance. Maybe it was the time that had passed, my realizing that not everyone loves high school, or fits in right, or just that I had a more worldly view, but on reading it the second time, I loved it – so much so that if I had to do a top ten classics list, you might find Holden holding court with the likes of Scout, Stella and Miss Scarlett.

I really don’t have much insight into why I had the change of heart, but for this case, I really was glad I went back to this book, and remember this lesson when I get to those “I don’t get it” books. Not that I think if you hated a book the first go around but everyone says it’s so wonderful, that on the second read you will think so too. But for me, it was a good lesson in my own reading practice. 

So, here’s a little challenge for me, and I welcome you to join me on this.

Is there a book that you hated the first time you read it, but decided to give it another go a few (or many) years later and discovered that you now really like the book?

Chose a book you read, or tried to read, and hated and give it another go. Maybe time has passed and you can relate better to the book, or maybe your dislike of the book or characters will grow worse. Post your personal challenge and thoughts on doing the re-read on your blog (if you have one) and include the link in the comments. Be sure to come back to this post and let me know how it goes the second time. I will post all responses in a future post, hopefully planned for September, so use the summer to get that book re-read

I am going to read The Hobbit before the end of the summer. For me, this was totally another, uggh book from HS, maybe I will find something more there the second time around.


6 Responses

  1. I tried reading Bite Me by Illona Andrews but just couldn’t get into it. I think it was Lucky by Jackie Collins but of course I was about ten or eleven the first time I tried reading it but a few years later I picked it up again and started reading them. Also there was this Meljean Brook’s book but damned if I can remember the title and I just can’t seem to locate it.

    I happen to be a rereader especially when it comes to a series since I tend to read the series over when a new book comes out but yeah there are just those books that you read and move on to get the next one. Good luck with the rereading. I hated being forced to read books in high school so I never did finish those books and The Catcher In The Rye just bored me to tears.

  2. I tried The English Patient years ago and didn’t finish it. My book club read it recently, so I completed it this time, but didn’t enjoy it. I think it was just over my head.

  3. It was like that for me with Catch-22. I got the book and all that it was trying to accomplish but I just found it to be redundant. I haven’t tried reading it again.

    The Great Gatsby also went right over my head, but reading it agin with me book club I enjoyed it more, and I think I was ld enough to understand it. I first read it in high school and I just think I had enough depth and life experience to understand what was going on.

  4. I tend not to be a re-reader (except, like Barbara, if a series I really enjoy has a new one coming out, I’ll scan the series again….like I’m about to start doing with the Outlander series).

    I can’t remember off the top of my head any books I absolutely hated… I’ve read plenty I didn’t like, but fortunately (or unfortunately) I’ve managed pretty much to put those out of my head.

    On The Hobbit… I’ve always loved that book…. 🙂

  5. Great questions! Safely Home by Randy Alcorn would be mine. I bought the book on a friends recommendation years ago and tried to read it and snore….
    Then I picked it up again last year whne another friend asked me if I had read it. I devoured it! Now it is probably in the top of my all time reads pile.

    The Hobbit could very well be one I should try again too. I have a beautiful hard copy edition of the book on my shelf but right now it is just eye candy. 🙂

  6. I read both The Catcher in the Rye and The Hobbit in high school as well and didn’t get all the hype about them as either. With “Catcher” I wonder if it just didn’t translate well to the newer generation and I found The Hobbit to be rather dull.
    Another book that I never got was Confederacy of Dunces, I think Ignatius Reilly was a little to frenetic for me. But I think now that I’m out of high school and a few years older that I should try reading them again.

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