Today I am telling you the true story of four books I resisted reading for no good reason except well, nothing. I had no good reason.
A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh.
There was a time when I belonged to a book club where if you did nothing, they just sent you books. If you were the organized timely sort of person, you could decline the choices or change them to books you did want. Well, I’m not all that organized and not all that timely so I often ended up with books I didn’t want. Of course, you could send them back, but you had to be timely about that, too. Which I wasn’t. A Summer to Remember was a book I ended up with that I hadn’t wanted but, being disorganized etc. Well, there it was. I was going to send it back but by the time I found where I’d put it, it was too late. Then the book sat around for nearly a year. I didn’t like the cover very much and I’d never heard of the author. Why would I want to read it?
Then one day I ran out of other books I wanted to read and I was feeling guilty about all the bad thoughts I’d been sending toward that book with the cover I didn’t like and the author I’d never heard of. So, I said to myself, I’ll try it. I figured I’d read a page or two, not like it, and could then toss it with impunity.
Mea Culpa. Mea Maxima Culpa.
How wrong could I have been? So, very very wrong. I adored the story. I adored the writing. As soon as I finished it, I re-read it. And then I went about getting everything I could by this author I had never heard of.
The Wild Baron by Catherine Coulter
I didn’t want to read this book because I thought the title was lame. If I recall correctly, someone gave me this book along with several others by various authors. Free books! I like free. But didn’t want to read about a plain old Baron. Not even if he was wild. I wanted earls, marquesses and dukes. Boo for Barons, said I to myself. As with Balogh, I had at this time, not read anything by Catherine Coulter though I had at least heard of her. Again, I found myself in a desperate reading situation so, in a kind of pissy mood, I started reading it.
I loved Coulter’s style of writing. I loved the hero of this book even though I would have preferred something better than a Baron. I forgave him this shortcoming about two sentences after his appearance. And then I dug out the other Coulters in the stack and read them. One of them was the infamous Rape Scene story and the other was the But I Used Cream story. But I liked them anyway even though I thought those two heroes were jerks. I read all the historicals of hers I could find. I was very sad when she stopped writing historicals.
The Viscount Who Loved Me, by Julia Quinn
Right. So I also picked up this book because I heard lots of buzz about her way back when. Once again, I thought the title was lame. I still do, actually. I did, however, like the cover. It was a very pretty blue and didn’t have a clinch. I have never been fond of the clinch cover. I didn’t want to read the book because I was being a stubborn idiot. No band wagon for me, please. No way.
But I finally cracked the cover and started reading.
And I LOVED the breezy writing EVEN THOUGH there were historical inaccuracies. I adored the hero. And I about busted a gut when the heroine was hiding under the hero’s desk as he’s (supposedly) alone with a lover. And he steps on her hand — knowing she’s there.
I’m saving the most embarrassing for last.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
For whatever reason, I was never assigned this book in Junior or Senior High School. But I knew, oh, hoh! I knew this was a Book You Must Read. So I didn’t read it for twenty years. Twenty years! I would be interested to know if anyone else resisted a book for that long. If you did, fess up.
Well, of course, when I finally broke down and read the book, I wanted to kick myself for waiting so long.
What can I say? I have now fessed up. Any of you have similar confessions?
great post, i was just talking about A Summer to Remember yesterday and Catherine Coulter is one of my fave old skool authors! it’s funny because i will pick up almost any historical romance, im rarely stubborn about those, but when it comes to other sub-genres i am all *resist resist resist*
thankfully im a little less stubborn about paranormals now and realized how much awesomeness ive been missing out on!
Oh lord, I do this all the time.
Let’s see. Books I’ve yet to read that I probably never will because . . . I don’t have a good reason.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon — I know what it’s about and the covers a waaaaaay too far apart.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens — Ditto, I know what it’s about and the covers, you know are far apart.
Actually, largeness is one of the key factors in my refusing to read books. The other is if the back blurb uses any variation of this phrase “Hers was a beauty like no other” then I will probably refuse to read it out of sheer contrariness.
I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the first Harry Potter book, because surely I wouldn’t enjoy something that popular. Which doesn’t make me as snooty as that sounds. It’s more a combination of quirky tastes and being contrary. The more people say, “You’re going to LOVE this. You HAVE to read it,” the more I think, “No I don’t.”
Let’s see, what else? I put off reading Jennifer Crusie forever because she writes contemporary and I never read it. Now I do, but only if it’s Crusie or sometimes Kathleen Eagle. And I still haven’t read the Miles Vorkosigan books despite adoring Bujold’s fantasy and Dorothy Dunnett’s books despite near-universal raves because I tried both over a decade ago and they didn’t work for me then.
To be honest and perhaps I bit ironic, I put off reading Jane Austen for a very long time. My first Austen was Mansfield Park and I read it by choice in high school. I hated it. The hero was limp and horrid and I could never understand why Fanny wanted him in the first place. So I put Austen aside and said that she was just like Dickens (someone else I will not read). Then this mini-series came out on A&E and I was hooked. I wasn’t familiar with the plot of P&P. I kept looking at TV Guide to see what the next hour would bring. I thought for sure Mr. Bennet died when it said the Bennets had a terrible family situation. I had concocted all sorts of plots and ways for Mr. Darcy to be heroic. That’s when I was hooked and have been ever since.
Until I was 18 I wouldn’t read modern fiction by choice. I would read it if my aunt gave it to me as a gift or if it were required in school. My mother has told me the tale that when I was eight she offered to buy me a book and I asked for Moby Dick. She asked me if I wanted a book my age and I said “Mother, modern fiction is beneath me.”
I actually put off reading “Romance” and especially “Regency Romance” until I was probably 26. I thought that frivolous women read those types of books and am now heartily ashamed of myself. I really enjoy romances especially Regency and historicals. It’s a lesson that was hard learned: every genre has crap and every genre has amazing books. You just have to dig to find them. Now some of my favorite authors (many on this blog) are romance writers.
I adore Ms Balogh and Ms Quinn in fact, you have but to click on my blog to see how much. I’ve only just now started to read Ms. Coulter and I like her well enough but To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee I must admit to finding that one a tad distressing. I keep seeing things in it that no one else does.
I refused to read georgette Heyers forever, don’t have a clue why. And, even though it has been recommended to me repeatedly, I still haven’t gotten around to reading A Wrinkle in Time.
One of these days maybe but I do enjoy reading Georgette now that I finaly have.
It’s sure nice to know I’m not alone in my For No Good Reason stubbornness. I love your stories, everyone! Very interesting.
I’m another one who didn’t read “Harry Potter” for a long time! I tend to be wary of things that are “too” popular (often foolishly!) and it sounded very been there/done that. The good part about waiting was that when I finally broke down and read the first book, the first 4 were already out and I could blast through them in a marathon reading session! 🙂
I resisted the Outlander series until last year. Why? I don’t know. I think it was a combination time travel/HUGE novel turn-off. I am so glad I read the series now. Another one I just read was The Bronze Horseman series by Paullina Simons. Too many people recommended it and I couldn’t resist anymore, thankfully. I love stories that stay with you for months after reading them.
As far as those who stay away from popular reads: I never read an Oprah recommended book. Oprah once said she never reads a book unless it will make her cry and I just think that’s a waste. Sure reading books that make you cry can be a good experience, but I want to laugh sometimes too or be entertained. So if it says Oprah it’s automatically off the list.
Amanda, I didn’t read Harry Potter either until I wanted to see the film with my sister (we go to a movie together every Christmas) and she said I couldn’t see the movie unless I read the book. I bought it the day I was leaving for a weekend forensics tournament and spent most of my down time reading the book thinking “Damn these speech events! They are getting in the way of my reading.”
Great post, Carolyn. As an Alabama girl I am pleased to see that you enjoyed To Kill A Mockingbird. My niece and two nephews got a beautiful leatherbound 40th anniversary copy of To Kill a Mockingbird from me for Christmas a few years ago. They’re teenagers so I will wait a few more years before giving them a copy of In Cold Blood by another Alabama author and Harper Lee’s childhood friend, Truman Capote.
Actually I resisted reading Faulkner because I just hated the idea of having to read something because some powers that be considered his writing classic. BIG mistake. When I was in undergrad school and taking a singing tour of England, Scotland and Wales my then boyfriend gave me a copy of The Sound and the Fury to read on the plane. I was hooked and have read everything Faulkner ever wrote many times since then.
I am not a fan of popular fiction – those Oprah book club, this is a great novel by a real writer you must read it type books. I read The Road and hated it. Too dashed depressing. However, a friend whose opinion I value gave me Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil for Christmas one year. It is now one of my favorite novels.
And when our local bookstore owner suggested a cozy mystery set in a small English village I took it just to be polite. The book was about a gay vampire from Mississippi who relocates to an English village, is pursued by the son of the local lord of the manor and stumbles across murders at every turn. If you are ever up for something fun, funny and just plain good try Dean James “To Death” series – Baked to Death, Decorated to Death, Posted to Death, etc. PRICELESS!
I have read To Kill a Mockingbird, even before my high school English teacher (Miz Lee)told us she (almost every day) that she was Harper Lee’s cousin.
That said, the number of important books I haven’t read is legion. I’m particularly lacking in our American literature: Faulkner, Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald. When I was an English major, I focussed on ENGLISH literature.
I’d never read Georgette Heyer or even a traditional Regency until I started writing. And there are so many wonderful romance authors I haven’t read.
I did read the Miles Vorkosigan series after some arm twisting by friends and I loved it. I have not read Harry Potter, though. Or Twilight. Or True Blood.
I was much better read when I was listening to audiobooks while commuting to my day job, but now it’s my Kindle that’s helping me get more reading done. So maybe my list of “never reads” will get shorter by this time next year!