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Started by LordofMisrule on Feb 14, 2021 6:11:41 PM
I was a bookish child, BUT...

A companion thread of sorts to the 'Gaps in your reading habits' one.

While I assume most of us caught the reading bug early, I'm curious to know: what were your literary stumbling blocks then - and have you carried prejudices from then to your habits today, or outgrown them?

Were there genres/authors you avoided, or specific books you couldn't get into? Talk about them here.

LordofMisrule - 14 Feb 2021 18:13:55 (#1 of 157)

Just as an example: I'm positive there were some library books that put me off because of their appearance or smell, and I never got into the authors as a result.

Peacock - 14 Feb 2021 18:15:48 (#2 of 157)

Yes Thomas Hardy.

LordofMisrule - 14 Feb 2021 18:17:26 (#3 of 157)

How old were you when you tried reading Hardy? Is this a classic case of 'reading a set text at school puts you off it for life'?

barkis - 14 Feb 2021 18:19:52 (#4 of 157)

There are some books I've never read because of a contrarian inclination not to read what everyone was raving about. "Lord of the Flies" and "Earthly Powers" spring to mind.

AlanII - 14 Feb 2021 18:21:00 (#5 of 157)

Hardy is tedious though and his characterisation of the rural working class as relentlessly stupid, very frustrating. Dickens is the big gap in my reading though. I just can't get on with it.

tasselhoff - 14 Feb 2021 18:22:26 (#6 of 157)

Moby fucking Dick.

And I was meant to read Jane Eyre in English and just thought it was shit.

Also Betjeman.

Catspyjamas17 - 14 Feb 2021 18:25:32 (#7 of 157)

I'm about a quarter the way through Oscar and Lucinda and considering just watching the film, which people say is better. It's incredibly slow and none of the characters are particularly interesting or likeable.

I've had two goes at The English Patient and couldn't get into it. Perhaps it is time for a third go.

I don't leave many books unfinished and if other people really like them I tend to give them.a few goes.

I loved the film The Princess Bride but absolutely hated the novel and had to stop. It seemed so mean-spirited and misanthropic, nowhere near as funny as the film and was just really annoying.

Peacock - 14 Feb 2021 18:28:19 (#8 of 157)

I was 13. Smelly dusty Tess of the d’Urbervilles. O level. Even the movie wasn’t sexy.

elderberry - 14 Feb 2021 18:29:25 (#9 of 157)

Dickens here too, which is a shame - it used to be presented to us in those 'children's classics' editions with tiny print - I don't think I ever read any of them - I did read the Lilliput and Brobdingnag bits of Gulliver, but in a different edition. I read all sorts of stuff, and was very undiscriminating - I had a friend who was only allowed Look and Learn rather than proper comics - that was dull - and on rainy days at school when we couldn't get into the playground it was awful to be given a boy's comic all about war and football rather than something interesting and fun like Bunty. But mostly I read everything.

AdonisBlue - 14 Feb 2021 18:29:33 (#10 of 157)

All the endless English novels about the romantic rituals of the English upper classes. Jane Austen, Brontes etc etc. Currently being made to watch Remains of the day, which whilst later, is more of the same.

surferboogiewhatever - 14 Feb 2021 18:32:39 (#11 of 157)

I was a bookish child, BUT... I didn't really like fantasy, except for some (not all) of Diana Wynne Jones's stand-alone novels. I never read that big series she did, probably because they never had all of them in our local library and I didn't know then about reservations.I read a few books by Alan Garner because people told me I ought to enjoy them, and I think a lot of it must have gone right over my head. Same with Penelope Lively, though I've enjoyed a couple of her adult, non-fantasy books in later life.

LordofMisrule - 14 Feb 2021 18:34:01 (#12 of 157)

Same, elderberry. I was given and/or read some of the obvious Dickens classics in the cutdown kiddy versions (Twist, Christmas Carol and a couple of others). The plots were fine but the names were ridiculous, and a glance at the adult versions' girth and verbosity were enough to deter me.

moto748 - 14 Feb 2021 18:34:41 (#13 of 157)

I'm about a quarter the way through Oscar and Lucinda

Illywhacker is far and away his best work, I think.

Shadrack22 - 14 Feb 2021 18:35:34 (#14 of 157)

I just have a lot of gaps. I read Disney-style adaptations of books like Peter Pan rather than the originals. Read The Wind in the Willows in my late teens, which is probably a decade later than usual. Watched The Phoenix and the Carpet on TV rather than reading the book. Etc etc.

One prejudice from those days is against To Kill a Mockingbird due to being force-fed it for O Level English. No doubt my loss - I probably should re-read it.

Hardy’s working class characters aren’t portrayed as stupid at all. The point about them is they adapt to their environment and survive, whereas the landscape breaks those with illusions. See Granfer Cantle in Return of the Native.

JennyRad - 14 Feb 2021 18:36:51 (#15 of 157)

I never really got into the "girls school stories" that many of my former-bookish-child friends (including here on JTT) adore. I read some Chalet School books in my teens - indeed, I inhaled them, because they were books, and a friend had lots and would lend them to me - but I really didn't see the point.

These days, I quite enjoy them (thanks in particular to a PotP who has sent me dodgy ebooks of many of the Chalet School books, and also thanks to Project Gutenberg to providing older ones) when my brain is particularly fried, but they don't have the passionate nostalgic value they seem to have for others.

AdonisBlue - 14 Feb 2021 18:38:41 (#16 of 157)

Yes also the corner of the bookshop where all the books have black covers - Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I love Sci Fi on the screen but it's almost always absurd in books.

LordofMisrule - 14 Feb 2021 18:39:30 (#17 of 157)

I was rather the opposite, boogie. I read chiefly for escapism so the fantasy elements were fine by me. The last thing I wanted was gritty realism and kids having a shitty time, or anything with an unsubtle Lesson To Learn.

I was however a massive coward and didn't want anything to do with horror elements*. Something in the titles of the Garner books I found creepy, so I put off reading them until I was older.

* No R.L. Stine Goosebumps or similar haunting my bedside table or dreams, unlike many of my generation...

AlanII - 14 Feb 2021 18:41:29 (#18 of 157)

I couldn't stand Jane Austen as a teenager, but returned to her in my twenties (as suggested by an old family friend) and now absolutely love her writing.

barkis - 14 Feb 2021 18:42:29 (#19 of 157)


I'm the opposite. I've liked science fiction as a literary genre since childhood but think most film versions are bad, especially the execrable "Star Wars".

elderberry - 14 Feb 2021 18:45:45 (#20 of 157)

I love girls' school stories but read hardly any of them as a child - Dorita Fairlie Bruce's Springdale books were being reprinted from the time I was about 10, so I read those, and another book that mysteriously landed in the junior school library that featured a row about wild flower nomenclature that was right up my street (eventually tracked it down a quarter of a century later - it had pious stuff that went right over my head). But school stories proper were a thing I only really started to discover in my mid teens when I was officially too old for them. Oh, I never, in childhood or adulthood, got the point of those Elsie J Oxenham Abbey books.

Stuff presented in secondary school English classes doesn't really count.

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