Author Topic: Reading/Book Pet Peeves  (Read 248838 times)

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Cherry91

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1695 on: February 26, 2014, 04:00:34 AM »
I hate literary snobs, especially regarding books for teenagers and young adults. Let them read what they want to read and they're more likely to read for fun. Try to force award winning but extremely dry books on them and they're likely to stop reading altogether.

I'm reading "The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared" for a book club at the moment. The reading quality is fine, but it's trying too darn hard to be "quirky" and "whimsical" that it keeps breaking any immersion I might gain.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 08:28:21 AM by Cherry91 »

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1696 on: February 26, 2014, 06:49:46 AM »
That's one thing that annoys me with the Oscars, too.  I have honestly stopped watching them, but it seems like all the movies nominated for an award are very heavy dramas with little to no comedy.  According to Wikipedia, only two comedies have won in the last 30 years. 

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

HoneyBee42

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1697 on: February 26, 2014, 07:51:31 AM »
Why do literary novels that win "prestigious" awards have to be so blasted dry, dull and depressing?  My solitary book club member only comes to meetings when we read the books she wants to be read...and she only wants to read the novels that win BIG literary awards because "you are forced to think and change your perspective."

There's a general assumption that if something isn't dry and depressing, then it isn't "serious" and therefore isn't worthwhile. My sons' school has a big, big problem with this. The older sister of one of their friends wrote her college essay "In Defense of Happy Endings" because she was so frustrated. My younger son has been writing essays in a similar vein. They had to read not one, but two novels by Toni Morrison in English this year. There's nothing like infanticide in the first chapter to really liven up your read.

One of the librarians was complaining to me that for summer reading, a kid's committee had picked Divergent (soon to be a major moving picture.) Even that wasn't serious enough for them, despite being entirely relevant to the lives of teenagers. I didn't tell her that my younger son was a driving force on that committee. The committee picked Hitchiker's Guide for last summer and there was a lot of griping from the English department that they couldn't figure out how to teach it. For some reason, they couldn't manage to find any character development, or indeed any characterization in the book at all. I'm not an English teacher and I could have found something to teach from that book -- how about the use of the absurd in satire? Why is Arthur Dent a good foil for Zaphod? Compare the satire of Adams' work with that of Swift, or of Lewis Carrol -- how is satire different in the 21st century from the 18th or 19th century? In fact, a whole compare-and-contrast between Alice, Dent and Gulliver would be great.

The last faculty-picked summer reading was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which has a fascinating subject, but turns out to be far more about the author than about Henrietta Lacks. It should have been titled My Journey to Find Myself and What I Found About Henrietta Lacks On The Way. But it was serious and therefore good.
And then there's the people who forget that the *purpose* of fiction is to tell a story, not to bedazzle with the artistic use of English (or whatever language the story is originally written in).  I know I have had this sort of conversation several times w/ respect to the Harry Potter books--people who sneer at them because "they're not well-written" or "not real literature" ... but whatever criticisms can be laid against the books, it is really hard to deny that JK Rowling told a story about characters that people started to care about, pretty much from page 1.

I've also read the first two books in the Divergent series--I liked it very much (although I don't want to read the third one, but I probably will because my daughter wants it for her birthday, she already owns the first two).  Very thought provoking, and again you find yourself dragged into the world that was created by the author.

Funny enough--middle son, last year, had been assigned to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and he brought it home.  I tried to read it, but found myself bored to tears.  I just never did get to the point of giving a fig newton about anyone I "met" in the story.

I end up reading a lot of YA fiction, and I am frequently finding that the storytelling within is superb, and every one of them one that I would read again before picking up One Hundred Years of Solitude again ... I read that, but again, never really did find myself getting engaged with the characters.  Really good fiction can tackle tough subjects, even change minds about things (To Kill a Mockingbird), but I think that fiction written to be "important" or "literary" tends to miss that whole story-telling element.  And by that standard (good storytelling), Harry Potter novels absolutely *are* great fiction.


Harriet Jones

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1698 on: February 26, 2014, 08:24:51 AM »
Why do literary novels that win "prestigious" awards have to be so blasted dry, dull and depressing?  My solitary book club member only comes to meetings when we read the books she wants to be read...and she only wants to read the novels that win BIG literary awards because "you are forced to think and change your perspective."

There's a general assumption that if something isn't dry and depressing, then it isn't "serious" and therefore isn't worthwhile. My sons' school has a big, big problem with this. The older sister of one of their friends wrote her college essay "In Defense of Happy Endings" because she was so frustrated. My younger son has been writing essays in a similar vein. They had to read not one, but two novels by Toni Morrison in English this year. There's nothing like infanticide in the first chapter to really liven up your read.

That's why I never enjoyed any of the Oprah Book Club suggestions.  The ones I read were well written and interesting, but were also really depressing. 


Piratelvr1121

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1699 on: February 26, 2014, 08:26:22 AM »
I agree about the Harry Potter novels.  When you have to put the books down to grab tissues because you're sobbing over the death of a beloved character, that's what makes a great story for me. 

Even more so when the author has you sobbing at the death of a character who wasn't even all that likeable through the majority of the books.  That's a great story.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

Lynn2000

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1700 on: February 26, 2014, 09:29:02 AM »
It's kind of like the Jane Austen/classics debate--some people really like Jane Austen, some people don't. (My mom likes her books, I'm kind of neutral.) I think it's great to have all kinds of books in the world. But yeah, it's frustrating to be in a situation where you must read certain things (like school assignments) and the people in charge always seem to pick books of the same "type." It's so easy to overdose that way and learn to dislike whole genres.

I had an English teacher in high school who really liked John Steinbeck. We read East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, The Pearl, and Grapes of Wrath. I liked East of Eden (first one). By the time we finished Grapes of Wrath (the fourth one), I kind of hated Steinbeck. That's not the feeling you want to leave a young reader with, you know?
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wolfie

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1701 on: February 26, 2014, 10:08:54 AM »
Why do literary novels that win "prestigious" awards have to be so blasted dry, dull and depressing?  My solitary book club member only comes to meetings when we read the books she wants to be read...and she only wants to read the novels that win BIG literary awards because "you are forced to think and change your perspective."

There's a general assumption that if something isn't dry and depressing, then it isn't "serious" and therefore isn't worthwhile. My sons' school has a big, big problem with this. The older sister of one of their friends wrote her college essay "In Defense of Happy Endings" because she was so frustrated. My younger son has been writing essays in a similar vein. They had to read not one, but two novels by Toni Morrison in English this year. There's nothing like infanticide in the first chapter to really liven up your read.

One of the librarians was complaining to me that for summer reading, a kid's committee had picked Divergent (soon to be a major moving picture.) Even that wasn't serious enough for them, despite being entirely relevant to the lives of teenagers. I didn't tell her that my younger son was a driving force on that committee. The committee picked Hitchiker's Guide for last summer and there was a lot of griping from the English department that they couldn't figure out how to teach it. For some reason, they couldn't manage to find any character development, or indeed any characterization in the book at all. I'm not an English teacher and I could have found something to teach from that book -- how about the use of the absurd in satire? Why is Arthur Dent a good foil for Zaphod? Compare the satire of Adams' work with that of Swift, or of Lewis Carrol -- how is satire different in the 21st century from the 18th or 19th century? In fact, a whole compare-and-contrast between Alice, Dent and Gulliver would be great.

The last faculty-picked summer reading was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which has a fascinating subject, but turns out to be far more about the author than about Henrietta Lacks. It should have been titled My Journey to Find Myself and What I Found About Henrietta Lacks On The Way. But it was serious and therefore good.

We read that book for book club and I liked it. But our discussion ended up running more into what our rights were to cells from our body and discussing how to make sure that if things were taken we still retain the rights to them and not having it go to pharmaceutical companies. Which is probably not a concern that teens have right now! :-)  The book was more about the author then the medical stuff - and the medical stuff is what interested me. We are going to read Five Days at Memorial next - which should also be depressing but a good discussion on euthanasia and what we think could/should have happened instead.

I do think that literature is overrated. Now that I am an adult and only read for pleasure I want a book that draws me in, entertains me or makes me think (all in one book can be a lot to ask for). I am not going to read something boring and depressing because it is "literature". To me it doesn't matter if your books are held up as great works of literature - if you can't tell a good story then you suck as an author. Because that is ultimately what it boils down to - books should be good stories.

Betelnut

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1702 on: February 26, 2014, 11:05:59 AM »
I like heavy duty depressing literature and YA fiction and science fiction and classics and fantasy fiction and nonfiction and literature that has beautiful writing for the sake of beautiful writing and Dr. Seuss and Gunter Grass and Shel Silverstein and William Shakespeare and big thick novels and graphic novels and Far Side cartoon books! And everything in between!

I don't have a problem with teachers assigning great literature to kids even if it might be depressing.  I don't have a problem with teachers including modern literature that might be considered more "lightweight" either. 

It's all about balance.
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Diane AKA Traska

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1703 on: February 26, 2014, 11:59:00 AM »
I like heavy duty depressing literature and YA fiction and science fiction and classics and fantasy fiction and nonfiction and literature that has beautiful writing for the sake of beautiful writing and Dr. Seuss and Gunter Grass and Shel Silverstein and William Shakespeare and big thick novels and graphic novels and Far Side cartoon books! And everything in between!

I don't have a problem with teachers assigning great literature to kids even if it might be depressing.  I don't have a problem with teachers including modern literature that might be considered more "lightweight" either. 

It's all about balance.

I disagree with assigning books that kids generally don't like to read to kids that you're trying to inspire a love of reading in.  But that's a personal bugaboo.
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Elfmama

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1704 on: February 26, 2014, 12:37:16 PM »
It's kind of like the Jane Austen/classics debate--some people really like Jane Austen, some people don't. (My mom likes her books, I'm kind of neutral.) I think it's great to have all kinds of books in the world. But yeah, it's frustrating to be in a situation where you must read certain things (like school assignments) and the people in charge always seem to pick books of the same "type." It's so easy to overdose that way and learn to dislike whole genres.

I had an English teacher in high school who really liked John Steinbeck. We read East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, The Pearl, and Grapes of Wrath. I liked East of Eden (first one). By the time we finished Grapes of Wrath (the fourth one), I kind of hated Steinbeck. That's not the feeling you want to leave a young reader with, you know?
And that's why so few people enjoy poetry, because they were forced to dissect it in high school English. 
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KarenK

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1705 on: February 26, 2014, 01:18:59 PM »
That bugs me too. In movies made from books, it can be even worse. The Age Of Innocence had a brunette heroine generally described as "slight" and a blonde statuesque antagonist. So who did they cast? Blonde Michelle Pfieffer for the heroine and fragile brunette Winona Ryder for the antagonist.

In the book Salem's lot the adult male protagonist was dark-haired, the teenaged male protagonist was dark-haired, the main vampire had a full head of hair and the vampire's assistant was bald.

In the made-for-tv movie Salem's lot, both male protagonists were blonde, the assistant had a full head of hair and the vampire was patterned after Nosferatu.  It made it much harder for me to watch it.

Just for balance, I think one of the best casting jobs ever was The Stand.  I saw it after reading the book, and everyone was pretty much as I had envisioned them.

Except for Molly Ringwald. Other than that - Awesome!

ETA: I see I'm not alone.  ;D
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 01:24:45 PM by KarenK »

AfleetAlex

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1706 on: February 26, 2014, 01:27:56 PM »
I like a ripping good yarn, is how I put it. I see enough sadness all around me; I read for escapism! Not to say I haven't enjoyed 'heavier' tomes but I want a good story first and foremost.

In high school we were to read a Shakespeare play every year in English class. Junior year (I think) the teacher assigned us 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' instead of what everyone else was reading ('Julius Caesar') because, "You guys have to read a tragedy every other year. I wanted you to experience a comedy."

To that teacher I say thank you!!
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jmarvellous

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1707 on: February 26, 2014, 01:34:45 PM »
It's kind of like the Jane Austen/classics debate--some people really like Jane Austen, some people don't. (My mom likes her books, I'm kind of neutral.) I think it's great to have all kinds of books in the world. But yeah, it's frustrating to be in a situation where you must read certain things (like school assignments) and the people in charge always seem to pick books of the same "type." It's so easy to overdose that way and learn to dislike whole genres.

I had an English teacher in high school who really liked John Steinbeck. We read East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, The Pearl, and Grapes of Wrath. I liked East of Eden (first one). By the time we finished Grapes of Wrath (the fourth one), I kind of hated Steinbeck. That's not the feeling you want to leave a young reader with, you know?
And that's why so few people enjoy poetry, because they were forced to dissect it in high school English.

I can only speak for myself, but I actually only enjoy poetry when I can get it accompanied by a thoughtful analysis, as in high school. I admit, I had fabulous English teachers and enjoyed pretty much everything. I haven't liked much modern poetry that I've read on my own, unfortunately--mainly because it's so inscrutable to me.

TootsNYC

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1708 on: February 26, 2014, 01:56:43 PM »

And, in the things I've read anyway, there's sometimes forced ambiguity about who the Chosen One is, maybe even specific other people that it could be... Except you're 99% sure it's the main character, and in the end, it is. I don't think it's a spoiler by this point to say that Harry Potter was indeed the Chosen One, for example, but I thought it would have been awesome if, at the very end, it turned out to be another character, who fit all the criteria of the prophecy, surprising the heck out of everyone. Which would certainly not have negated Harry's contributions to that world at all, I don't think. I saw something similar in another popular tween book series that I just finished reading--kept hoping maybe it would turn out the main character wasn't the Chosen One after all, and then he was.

Actually, the other candidate for being the Chosen One has a very significant contribution. One could argue that it's both of them.

Al

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1709 on: February 26, 2014, 01:57:34 PM »
Quote:
Now we are reading the latest award winner.  I don't want to step on literary toes, but the book is 890 pages and while, once again, the writing is lovely, it reminds me of my grandfather telling a story that would go thusly:  "So Mac and Ed--you know Ed, his wife was Elsa who broke her leg during the big flood of 1938...that was when the church floated off and wound up down in Town B where the mass murder took place when......" and pretty soon, you are miles away from Mac and Ed and don't remember--or care--who they are when you get back to them.


Sounds like Grampa Simpson:  "We can't bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell 'em stories that don't go anywhere - like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. “Give me five bees for a quarter,” you'd say. Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones..."