Reader’s Remorse


Tim is like the books that I don't understand.

Tim is like the books that I don’t understand.

It doesn’t often happen that I read a book that I don’t like.

In general I am a pretty open-minded reader and I am willing to pick out books without knowing anything about them just for the enjoyment of variety in my reading. Sometimes I take issue with a writer’s style even when I like their concept (and conversely I sometimes take issue with their concept even if I like their style) but I can usually find enough value in a book to make it worth the read.

That said, it is doubly mystifying to me when I discover a book that comes highly recommended, much laureled and (apparently) now taught in many high school curricula as an example of good contemporary literature and I just don’t get it. I had every reason to and expectation of enjoying this book and I Just. Didn’t. Get. It.

The book in question is “Looking for Alaska”. The writer is John Green. I had the privilege of hearing Mr John Green speak at the commencement address for my youngest sister at Butler University a month or so ago and found him to be an insightful and insightfully brief speaker and as a result I enjoyed his speech very much. It turns out that Mr John Green was also an alumni of Kenyon College where my other sister, who is herself a writer of Young Adult literature, attended college and she was very excited to hear him speak. She had given the copy of “Looking for Alaska” to my youngest sister from whom I ended up borrowing it, anxious to read some of the actual writing of this storied author to find out what all the fuss was about. I still haven’t found out.

I’m annoyed with myself for this reaction. I really wanted to like this book because I really wanted to like this writer. But I didn’t. Maybe I’m too old. I didn’t like any of the characters because they didn’t strike me as authentic so maybe I’m just too old to understand Youth These Days or else it would ring true to me. Not liking the characters meant I didn’t feel strongly when things happened to them. And feeling strongly about what happens to the characters in this book isĀ especially important to the point of the book.

I should mention, just in case Mr John Green should chance to read this and think I’m just being a snarky internet h8er: I also had this same reaction to “Catcher In The Rye” so he is in good company. I’ll certainly keep trying to like his work

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 11, 2013.

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