22 August 2014

CONFESSION: Book Hatred?

I will make this post as plain, as clear, and as simple as I possibly can.

How many times in your reading career have you uttered (or whispered, or bellowed) the following words?:

"I hate this book."

And then you probably proceeded to list reasons or examples that proved your point. Maybe there was too little character development? Perhaps the plot was rushed, or moved slowly? What if the occasional exciting points of the story were repeatedly overshadowed by the ever-present monotony?

(Bonus points if you have seemingly been the only person who disliked a particular book.)

And the truth is, now and forever, it's fine to feel an aversion to a book. In fact, it will probably happen to you tens or hundreds of other times. And, what's more, it has happened and will continue to happen to everybody else around you. (At least, to the people around you who read. Maybe not to the people around you who are constantly plugged into their smartphones, but for the most part, they're not the people a reader tends to associate with anyway.)

The difference--and it's a crucial one--is between liking a book and appreciating a book.

Liking vs. Appreciating (and Their Co-existence)

Liking a book can range between several degrees. We'll call this the "Passion Scale." Level One on the Passion Scale is a casual liking for a story--maybe you don't even truly like it, but at least you don't hold a fervent loathing for it. Level Ten on the Passion Scale is an extreme liking for a story, complete with stalking the author's Twitter, drafting him or her letters that you're too shy to send, watching the book's film adaptation on opening night (as well as pre-ordering the DVD a few months later), and endless re-reading. So much re-reading. (Seriously. The pages have awkward creases and maybe a stain; a piece of tape is required here and there; and if it's a paperback, its covers will never hold their original shapes ever again.) The maximum so-called "healthy" liking is probably a Level Eight on the Passion Scale.

Having an appreciation for a book is much more worthwhile. You take precious time out of your busy lifestyle to overhear the hype about it, and possibly without caring, but all while acknowledging its contribution to the constantly-evolving world of literature. You don't have to read it. And you certainly don't have to like it. But you know it's there, and you know it's important to some other people, and you're willing to respect those facts.

Books Hated Almost as Much as Twilight

People on the Internet, somewhat recently, have begun to hold an immense hostility for Twilight (by Stephenie Meyer). You've seen it--"Still a better love story than Twilight" memes, theories of bestiality and pedophilia, and pictures poking fun at Kristen Stewart's apparent lack of emotional expression. And, because the Internet possesses such a significant role in everybody's lives (readers' and writers' included), it would be odd if you haven't noticed such posts before.

And, easily, Meyer's book is accompanied by other commonly-disliked ones: Fifty Shades of Grey, for instance, and The Catcher in the Rye. (Admittedly, I have a personal liking for the latter, despite Holden Caulfield's cynical views and fierce impatience. I know of many others who also like the book.)

I have read Twilight. I am not a "Twi-hard." I have not read any of the other books in that series, though I intend to one day, once all of my more important reading-related tasks are finished. On that day, I will renounce most of my pride and thereby subject myself to the ridicule of  anti-Twilight extremists who just want to tell me, "That's such a pointless book! I hate it!"

And I will tell them, "Good for you. I don't like it, either. But I appreciate it."

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