Author Topic: Reading/Book Pet Peeves  (Read 259048 times)

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Outdoor Girl

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1725 on: February 27, 2014, 12:52:20 PM »
My Dad did a night school degree in English in his early 30's, so he was quite a bit older than most of the students.  One of his classes involved interpreting a fairly famous piece of poetry or short story (I don't remember what it was) for an exam.  Dad came out of the exam and heard some of the other students talking.  They'd all written about the well know interpretation of the piece, while Dad had written something entirely different.  He started sweating.  But when he got his exam back, he got full marks because he had supported his interpretation well, with quotations from other works they'd studied.  He was much relieved.

Dad wasn't a reader; we're pretty sure he is dyslexic.  He never read an entire book; if it needed to be read, my mother read it for him and gave him a synopsis or he'd read the Coles notes.  He'd read and memorize passages the prof commented on.  English wasn't his choice for a degree but it was the only one he could do in night school and with a young family, he couldn't afford to go back to school full time.

Fun, totally OT, fact:  He was once in a course with Alex Trebec.  'Greek and Roman Classics in Translation'
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1726 on: February 27, 2014, 01:04:40 PM »
I often wished, looking back, that teacher had done a Tori Amos song.  She has refused to say what most of her songs are about, believing that the meaning can be totally different to anyone who listens to it.  But I can see the teacher insisting on a certain interpretation as being what the writer meant.
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

Jocelyn

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1727 on: March 02, 2014, 10:07:35 AM »
I had to read 'Silas Marner' as a sophomore. I later re-read it as an adult, figuring it had some merit that I just couldn't see as a teen. Couldn't see it as an adult, either. I don't get why that one book was considered noteworthy, compared to all the other books published at that time that haven't survived.
As for authors who put in lots of current references to seem cool...don't they realize that in 20 years, their books are going to be dated enough that they're no longer cool, and in 40 years, they'll be incomprehensible? Diagon Alley is going to be amusing a hundred years from now.

Elfmama

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1728 on: March 02, 2014, 10:59:07 AM »
I had to read 'Silas Marner' as a sophomore. I later re-read it as an adult, figuring it had some merit that I just couldn't see as a teen. Couldn't see it as an adult, either. I don't get why that one book was considered noteworthy, compared to all the other books published at that time that haven't survived.
As for authors who put in lots of current references to seem cool...don't they realize that in 20 years, their books are going to be dated enough that they're no longer cool, and in 40 years, they'll be incomprehensible? Diagon Alley is going to be amusing a hundred years from now.
Sometimes even very tiny things make a book dated.  Something as simple as turning on the TV several minutes before your desired program comes on so that it will warm up enough to work, or TV programming going off the air at midnight.  Both of those are things that became obsolete in my lifetime, but even my generation has to stop and think "Oh, yeah, I remember that."
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Dr. F.

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1729 on: March 02, 2014, 11:16:35 AM »
I had to read 'Silas Marner' as a sophomore. I later re-read it as an adult, figuring it had some merit that I just couldn't see as a teen. Couldn't see it as an adult, either. I don't get why that one book was considered noteworthy, compared to all the other books published at that time that haven't survived.
As for authors who put in lots of current references to seem cool...don't they realize that in 20 years, their books are going to be dated enough that they're no longer cool, and in 40 years, they'll be incomprehensible? Diagon Alley is going to be amusing a hundred years from now.
Sometimes even very tiny things make a book dated.  Something as simple as turning on the TV several minutes before your desired program comes on so that it will warm up enough to work, or TV programming going off the air at midnight.  Both of those are things that became obsolete in my lifetime, but even my generation has to stop and think "Oh, yeah, I remember that."

Or the prices of things. I'm currently reading Psycho. I saw the film a long time ago, but never read it. It was published in 1959. A room at the Bates Motel was $10/night, and you could buy a house for $40,000.

rose red

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1730 on: March 02, 2014, 11:35:28 AM »
I had to read 'Silas Marner' as a sophomore. I later re-read it as an adult, figuring it had some merit that I just couldn't see as a teen. Couldn't see it as an adult, either. I don't get why that one book was considered noteworthy, compared to all the other books published at that time that haven't survived.
As for authors who put in lots of current references to seem cool...don't they realize that in 20 years, their books are going to be dated enough that they're no longer cool, and in 40 years, they'll be incomprehensible? Diagon Alley is going to be amusing a hundred years from now.
Sometimes even very tiny things make a book dated.  Something as simple as turning on the TV several minutes before your desired program comes on so that it will warm up enough to work, or TV programming going off the air at midnight.  Both of those are things that became obsolete in my lifetime, but even my generation has to stop and think "Oh, yeah, I remember that."

Or the prices of things. I'm currently reading Psycho. I saw the film a long time ago, but never read it. It was published in 1959. A room at the Bates Motel was $10/night, and you could buy a house for $40,000.

I may have talked about this before, but I ran across a book where a girl is trying to find a part-time job because she wants to save up for a VCR, which cost $300.  I like small references like that because it makes me laugh and feel nostalgic.

Margo

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1731 on: March 02, 2014, 02:06:59 PM »
Linked to the comments about prices, (I quite like accurate pricing. I find it interesting, and  it sets the book in it's own time. I do get cross with historical novels where the writer hasn't done their research about what is financially realistic)
One of my pet peeves (linked to the money point)  is poorly updated books.

There is a series of books which I read as a teen - the books were originally written between 1947 and 1967 and are set in that general period. They went out of print and were reprinted in the 1980s when they were also updated. It's really frustrating, as some things were updated (for instance, changing pre-decimal to decimal currency) but the story isn't, which is very jarring (If you have decimal currency, putting you *after* 1971, you don't also get to have (for instance) comments about the benefits of the wonderful new National Health Service (set up in 1948) .

Plus if you are going to update the money, update the prices! Yes, 1 shilling was equal to 5 new pence in 1971 when we changed to decimal currency, but 1 shilling bought a lot less in 1971 than it did in 1947 when the book was written. In 1971 (or 1980-something, when the book was reissued) you can't buy 12 penny buns for 5p...

And f you've updated the book to set it in (at the earliest) the early 70s, then you need to update the vocabulary so people are not listening to the wireless, so that people other than the vicar and the doctor have cars and telephones, and so on...

I had bought my own copy of a much loved book and it was awful, as the terrible updating and glaring anachronisms meant I was constantly thrown out of the story. I also felt it was quite insulting - the publisher (or whichever idiots made the decision) felt readers were too stupid to be able to understand that things were different in the past!.

Jocelyn

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1732 on: March 02, 2014, 05:04:02 PM »
I had to read 'Silas Marner' as a sophomore. I later re-read it as an adult, figuring it had some merit that I just couldn't see as a teen. Couldn't see it as an adult, either. I don't get why that one book was considered noteworthy, compared to all the other books published at that time that haven't survived.
As for authors who put in lots of current references to seem cool...don't they realize that in 20 years, their books are going to be dated enough that they're no longer cool, and in 40 years, they'll be incomprehensible? Diagon Alley is going to be amusing a hundred years from now.
Sometimes even very tiny things make a book dated.  Something as simple as turning on the TV several minutes before your desired program comes on so that it will warm up enough to work, or TV programming going off the air at midnight.  Both of those are things that became obsolete in my lifetime, but even my generation has to stop and think "Oh, yeah, I remember that."

Or the prices of things. I'm currently reading Psycho. I saw the film a long time ago, but never read it. It was published in 1959. A room at the Bates Motel was $10/night, and you could buy a house for $40,000.
Smart indeed is the author who thinks to include enough references to put the prices in context (a la Regency novels that talk about someone having X pounds a year income). But $10 and $40,000? Motel 6 was originally $6 a night, in the 1960s, and I bought a house in 1985 for $31,000. :)

Twik

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1733 on: March 02, 2014, 05:05:43 PM »
I don't see why these stories have to be updated. Part of the pleasure of reading (or otherwise partaking of stories) is to experience something different than one's own life.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

dqduck

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1734 on: March 02, 2014, 10:30:54 PM »
Agreed. I read Enid Blyton books as a child and I sure as heck didn't know how much a penny or shilling was worth, only that kids and gnomes seem to buy things with them all the time. And that did not detract from the stories at all. They were all still quite enjoyable.

Little Girl Blue

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1735 on: March 02, 2014, 10:58:00 PM »
So, I diligently read through all 116 pages of this thread and didn't see this peeve, so I'll offer it up to my fellow reader for their review and approval. 

A couple of years ago I read a book recommended to me by my MIL, who is a sweet woman, but who has previously mentioned that she has little time for anything but practical nonfiction.  Nevertheless, I was happy to read what she had recommended because it's always nice to have something to talk about with your MIL and although we share some interests they don't provide a wealth of conversation. 

So, I read this book, and it started out as a nice sort of story about this family that breeds dogs.   The writing wasn't spectacular, but I'd read worse, and I was eager to have something to discuss with my MIL.  Plus, I like the details about the dog training, and the hints that it was going to go into a deeper exploration of the relationship and interplay between man and animal.

Then I realized that this wasn't a story about dogs.  It was the story of Hamlet, with dogs draped over it as a sort of set decoration.  I got to the point where there was a recreation of Hamlet's play-within-a-play enacted by trained dogs and the only thing that kept me from chucking that SOB across the room was the fact that it wasn't my book.  I managed to slog through the rest of the book, but never even got to discuss it with my MIL.  That was probably for the best, because I wouldn't have had very nice things to say and

If I want to read Hamlet, I'll read Hamlet.  Trying to tart up your story by adopting the plot of a well-known work of literature is like trying to create art with paint-by-numbers kits.  The picture's not yours, and all you're doing is showing your own lack of originality by filling in a famous outline with your own colors.  The comparison to Shakespeare (or whoever you've chosen to style your plot after) only serves to highlight your own inadequacies unless you are skilled, careful and, most importantly, have something meaningful to contribute.  If you just take Shakespeare and spread spread some dogs on it, you are not doing the world any favors.


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Twik

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1736 on: March 02, 2014, 11:05:58 PM »
How could you be angry at a book that does Hamlet's play within a play using trained dogs? I laughed for five minutes just reading your description of it.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

Little Girl Blue

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1737 on: March 02, 2014, 11:59:24 PM »
How could you be angry at a book that does Hamlet's play within a play using trained dogs? I laughed for five minutes just reading your description of it.

In hindsight, it's pretty funny, but in the moment it was awful. 

I was reading and reading and thinking, "Gosh, I wonder where the author will go with the story?  There's the opportunity to have a very interesting discussion about the nature of humanity and family and ... wait a minute... this seems oddly familiar..."

I think the problem was that there were so many possibilities that it was disheartening to find that in lieu of deeper exploration of original thought provoking themes the author had chosen to retell Hamlet as enacted almost entirely by canines.  Rosencrantz and Guiledenstern?  Dogs.  Polonius? Veterinarian.  Laertes?  Sheriff.   Nothing new, all just Hamlet with dogs strapped onto it.  If I could be convinced it was meant as a satire I might be convinced that it really wasn't that bad, but it was dead serious.  Dead.  Serious.  :|

I felt duped.  I can't stand it when writers try to ride the coattails of better artists and then turn around to pretend that their work is an intense intertextual investigation, when really it's just pure self aggrandizement and laziness.  I think what ticked me off most was that the novel I was imagining before I realized that the author was just copying Hamlet could have been really interesting.  It went from, "I wonder where this will go," to "I know where this is going and it's not good," in seconds flat.

Bah, humbug!


-Blue

Slartibartfast

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1738 on: March 03, 2014, 01:08:51 AM »
Nothing new, all just Hamlet with dogs strapped onto it.  If I could be convinced it was meant as a satire I might be convinced that it really wasn't that bad, but it was dead serious.  Dead.  Serious.  :|

I wish I could draw!  This makes me picture some avante-garde version of Hamlet in which Hamlet's costume consists of a large number of puppies, all squirming around while the actor is trying to speak  :P

cabbageweevil

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1739 on: March 03, 2014, 04:47:13 AM »
If I want to read Hamlet, I'll read Hamlet.  Trying to tart up your story by adopting the plot of a well-known work of literature is like trying to create art with paint-by-numbers kits.  The picture's not yours, and all you're doing is showing your own lack of originality by filling in a famous outline with your own colors.  The comparison to Shakespeare (or whoever you've chosen to style your plot after) only serves to highlight your own inadequacies unless you are skilled, careful and, most importantly, have something meaningful to contribute. 

“I feel your pain”.  Though the idea of the “Players” as trained dogs, is so bonkers as to be comical; thorough agreement -- for many of us, supposedly clever-clever mucking-around with gratuitous strange adaptations of classic originals, achieves nothing but to annoy.

There’s a parallel for me, re a once-loved author of mine, which has been mentioned before in this thread.  I used to greatly enjoy S.M. Stirling’s alternative history / fantasy writings. Some years ago, though, he embarked on a series of novels with the premise of a big-scale catastrophe in 1998, which knocks the world a thousand years back technology-wise, with the consequent speedy death of 95% of mankind.  The fortunes are followed, of a few groups of survivors in the general Oregon area.  Fair enough; but a couple of books into the series, it took a strong and unexpected “magical / mystical / mythological” turn.  This change of direction was not to my taste – I battled through a couple more of the books, and then abandoned the series.

This author has quite a body of super-dedicated fans, who love this series – in which he has been churning out book after book: now on the tenth or eleventh, I think, and more to come.  Among the plaudits from fans, have been a fair few from those who see, and delight in, strong parallels in the series, with the Arthurian legends and their characters.  An extra turn-off for me:  if I want to read the Arthurian legends, I’ll do so about the actual original “cast” – in the works by Malory or Tennyson, say.  The last thing I’d want to read, is a supposed re-enactment of the Arthurian epic by a bunch of twerps in a 21st-century post-apocalyptic North America.   I greatly think that I’m done with Mr. Stirling, for good.