Friday, May 10, 2013

Morning-After Reading Regrets


A while back we had a fabulous guest author here, crime fiction writer Hallie Ephron. Like we NovelMatters ladies, she blogs with some fellow authors at their site, Jungle Red Writers. 

Recently they asked their readers which movies they had watched that they wished they hadn’t. Their readers were enthusiastic in their stories about everything from being ambushed by gross-out films, to those which were an unremarkable waste of time except for one image or one line that lingered as persistently as garlic on a stranger’s breath in the morning.

Books are that way, too. Sometimes we stop reading something—or keep reading something and are filled with regret later. (I was such an ignorant prude that I threw away my copy of The Good Earth when I was 13 years old because it actually suggested that Chinese people had sex with one another. Never did finish that one. But I do remember something about them eating mud during a famine.)

So – X-rated books aside, which books are so remarkable in your memory that you wish you’d never read them? Do tell. Give titles. Describe details—unless they involve sex and mud and anything else that might gross me out. 

18 comments:

Henrietta Frankensee said...

Timothy Finlay's "Not Wanted on the Voyage" Argh! Had to read it for school.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

I'd have to say 'The Historian.' I'm such a lightweight when it comes to reading anything with disturbing imagery. I began having bad dreams and decided it wasn't worth it. That doesn't meant the writing wasn't good or the storyline was boring. I really don't need to know about gory details of history (& fantasy).

Patti Hill said...

Most definitely, several stories I had to read for my English degree. When in comes to the English Literary Canon, misery certainly loves company. One short story--Japanese author, beautifully written, horribly graphic--made me cry all the way home. And another one painted its elderly characters into such a dark corner that they drove their car into a river. Very upsetting. Lately, I wanted to give an author a chance to put a story together. Her writing was technically clean, the language beautiful--no story. I read the whole thing. Grr.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

A friend of mine told me that I would LOVE "The Road". It was a well written, engaging story. I regretted reading it because it felt very real and very hopeless. Not one shred of hope in that book. Just despair. They keep going and going toward nothing.

Fatalism is very hard for me to digest.

The book gave me deep insight into the friend who recommended it. A friend who lived his life just like that. Going and going toward nothing.

Jennifer Major said...

All right, lock and load, but I think umm, Diana Gabaldon's stuff is SO not *MY* cup of Darjeeling. Far too much sex. And anything suggesting the acceptance of infidelity is a no-no for ME.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Hm. What an interesting question! It's funny--I've started some classics, like SILAS MARNER, thinking they would be boring as all get-out, and they turn out to be faves. But something I REGRET reading. I personally wasn't crazy about COLD MOUNTAIN and SNOW FALLING ON THE CEDARS and couldn't figure out what the hoopla was about. The first Jodi Picoult book I read was good...the rest all sounded the same. Another book I started and didn't like was WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. Bad aftertaste for me.

Sharon K Souza said...

For me, it was The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I hated the way she handled Christianity. Very disappointing.

Jenny Mertes said...

Heather Gilbert, it's interesting you would mention Cold Mountain. I read it with enthusiasm when it first came out and enjoyed the writing - it was my cup of tea UNTIL THE END. Sheesh. What a waste of time. I'd read it again if it had a happy ending.

Cherry Odelberg said...


One book that comes to mind is not in the best-seller big leagues as those mentioned above. I like / love my fellow writers and authors and do not want to tarnish the relationships we enjoy online. But...
I had opportunity to read Mike Duran's, "The Telling." In the beginning, it was a masterpiece. Half way through the book, I was thinking, "This man is a genius, I want to show the book to so and so, and this person and that." It was a page turner. I stayed up half the night finishing it. And then, the ending totally perplexed me and left me dissatisfied. The underlying romance resolution was predictable. The spiritual warfare personification was confusing because the characters I had thought to represent Father, Son / Messiah and present day Saints in an end times battle did not stay in character. Two characters whom I think became a composite in the author's final draft, left unnecessary or unresolved artifacts earlier in the book.
The message I got from the book is that 1) even God's fully anointed messengers and vessels are still flawed, and with tainted motives, but can still be mightily used and 2) Some people we count as useless or whacky are the messengers and warriors God chooses to use. The first half or two thirds of the book were exquisite. I wish I had stopped there.

Josey Bozzo said...

Ok, you guys are probably going to hate me for this, or worse think I'm crazy but....I read Wuthering Heights recently and I just didn't get it. I don't regret reading it, but I did not like it at all. I didn't think there was anything romantic about Heathcliff and Catherine (not sure if that name is right) It was bizarre, and he was a crazy man as far as I'm concerned.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Josey, I have to agree with you. I read it in my youth and thought it was tragically romantic. I've read it twice since then (once last year) and had little sympathy for such a horrible man. Some things you just can't excuse. I think they deserved each other.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

I hung in there for Cold Mountain and I get the ending, but wasn't happy about it. I did enjoy Snow Falling on Cedars and Water for Elephants. I got halfway through The Poisonwood Bible...
I skimmed Moby Dick, just enough for the final. ugh

Latayne C Scott said...

I've loved all these comments.

I guess the most recent book I've read that I thought was overrated was Rosemary Sutcliff's Eagle of the Ninth. I had to read it to teach it to my middle school students (the boys of whom really liked it), but I guess knowing Sutcliff's beliefs on reincarnation and her disdain for Christianity kind of made it seem an artifice to me. After all, if you don't believe in reincarnation, it is hard to swallow a novel by someone who believes they lived in that time.

wanderer said...

What a fun post and comments!

Here's my regret:

My town has a population of 536 so the library pickings get a bit slim and readers a bit desperate. Finally one week I read a couple of books from the true crime section, err shelf, and one was about a cop gone bad who pulled women over and then killed them. To this day, if a cop tried to pull me over on a lonely, dark road, I suspect I'd hit the gas and take the consequences by daylight.

Anonymous said...

I HATED "The Hunger Games." The writing and characters are all shallow, none of the plot does anything to devise any kind of meaning, and why would you EVER pit kids against each other for ENTERTAINMENT in an arena where they kill for sport? And some of them LIKE it???

And the defense of a "message" can't be used here, because there isn't one. Suzanne Collins got the idea--no joke--from flipping back and forth on the TV between footage from Iraq and a reality game show and thought "I bet I could write a book where kids have to kill each other in a reality show."

The entire series is filled with nothing but despair and chaos and hopelessness and selfishness. Even when Prim dies, Katniss moves on like it never happened and NEVER gets closure with ANYONE. And there are so many holes, fine Swiss cheese would be ashamed of itself.

The series is trash.

Veronica Sternberg said...

I really disliked Wuthering Heights. I read it for school and didn't find it romantic at all. They seemed very selfish. I really enjoyed the first two Hunger Games books, but it saddened me that there was no spiritual hope in it. I didn't think the idea of kids fighting each other for entertainment is really that farfetched. People during Roman times would watch lions tear apart Christians and others and gladiators fight to the death in the arena, all for entertainment.

Sara said...

A recent book club selection: Margaret Atwood's "Handmaid's Tale." Never trust an academic atheist for a critique of blue collar Christianity.


"Madame Bovary" wins the award for most pointless "classic" in my category. Had to slog through that one for one of my English classes and loathed it every page of the way.

Robin McKinley's "Deerskin" is a haunting retelling of one of the most horrible fairy tales ever. I love just about everything else McKinley has written before and since, but that one left me laying in bed with my skin crawling after I'd finished it.

Latayne C Scott said...

Yes. Skin crawling for hours after finishing a book. Exactly what I was talking about.