It’s Not You. It’s Me.
“It’s Not You. It’s Me.”
Have you ever felt that way about a book?
You know, the old clichéd way that the girl always breaks up with the boy, like George got the news broken to him in that one episode of Seinfeld. A short monologue is accompanied by a kiss on the cheek, and off she goes into the sunset.
When it comes to reading, though, have you ever felt like that? You appreciate the book. You think you understand why other people like it. But it’s just not for you.
If so, where do you draw the line? How can you tell if something is genuinely a piece of crap, and the people who like it must be border-line illiterate, or whether it’s just not your proverbial cup of tea?
We’ll always have a certain amount of subjectivity when reading novels—that’s just human nature. We talked about this a little bit a few months ago in the context of depressing and dark books. But I think, sometimes, it’s easy for us to say “that book sucks” when, in reality, that book simply doesn’t fall in line with our personal taste.
Take Mrs. Dalloway, for instance. I’m getting to the point where, even though I hated that book, I understand that a lot of people love it. Or, more recently, Lolita. As you may know, that was a real struggle for me. I had to separate myself from the story—a story which fell out of my realm of comfort—and attempt to appreciate the book as a work of art. I’m still not there.
Even more recently, Death Comes For the Archbishop, which I just finished, is another book that falls within this category. Though I loved Cather’s writing, I wasn’t a huge fan of the book. However, I can at least appreciate why other people might have more positive feelings about it.
When you’re reading from a list of 101 critically acclaimed novels, it’s hard to really sound convincing when you say one of the books “sucks.” Too many other people have liked it. In the case of this project, maybe it’s my taste that sucks. Or maybe it’s just me that sucks. That’s a real possibility.
So what do you think? Not about whether I suck, but about where you draw the line between personal taste and truly believing a book is bad. What’s your take?
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