Books are the best companions in the world

I’m about a third of the way through my 26-week book challenge (well, okay, a little further than that), and I’ve just realised that I should have done another interlude after my Fifty Shades rant. If people recall, that covered my most overrated book, so it makes sense for the original challenge to also ask for my most underrated book. And this is a question I cannot answer.

In a way this is related to the fact that you cannot point out a perfect book. Not objectively. I can list a lot of books that were perfect for me, but someone else is going to pick up one of them, read three pages and toss it in the bin* because they hate it.

*I’m speaking metaphorically here, of course. No one should ever throw a book in the bin, not even if it’s Fifty Shades of Grey. Find your local second-hand bookstore, leave it on a table at work for someone else, hand it to a charity shop, just for the love of sexy pointy-eared half-elves don’t ever throw it away!

Similarly, there are plenty of books which I dismissed within three pages, but somebody somewhere is going to love it. I would sincerely question their taste, of course, but it is a fact that every book will have someone who loves it. As a result there is no such thing as an underrated book, if you look at it objectively. Even if you look at it subjectively there is no such thing, because when I read a book there are four basic options:

1) I read it. I loved it. Hurray! I cannot underrate this book because I loved it.

2) I read it. I hated it. Well, most likely I stopped halfway because I hated it. Either way I cannot underrate it, because that implies that there was something to like about it, when subjectively, for me, that’s not the case.

3) I read it. I loved it. I tried to read it again and couldn’t finish it. Yes, this has happened to me. This means I cannot underrate it, because it’s more likely that I overrated it initially.

4) I read it. I hated it. For some reason I read it again and loved it. Hasn’t happened yet, but theoretically it’s possible, I suppose. Anyway, the end result is point 1.

So that’s why I won’t answer this question. Whichever way you look at it, a book cannot be underrated.

Do you agree, or do you have a clever argument to convince me that I’m wrong? Comments always welcome.

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11 thoughts on “Books are the best companions in the world

  1. Jan Smitowicz

    You said:
    “3) I read it. I loved it. I tried to read it again and couldnโ€™t finish it. Yes, this has happened to me.”

    Me too! Like, countless times. It always surprises me, and in fact happens so much that I prefer to hold off on listing a book as one of my favorites until I’ve read it more than once–that SECOND time is when you can truly judge a book’s greatness.

    Reply
  2. lisaloparo

    What about a book that’s underrated by others but that you loved and think deserves more positive critical attention? Also, well done on the Fifty Shades rant ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    1. Erica Dakin Post author

      You could probably argue semantics here, but I can’t think of any book I’ve read that hasn’t had some form of positive critical attention, so while it might be less popular, it won’t be underrated. Many of Jack Vance’s books don’t get the level of popularity I think they deserve, but critically he is very well respected.

      And thank you on Fifty Shades – been wanting to have that rant for ages! (And I still forgot to say half of what I wanted to.)

      Reply
  3. Andrea J

    Loving a book and not caring for it the second time around has happened to me a bunch of times. so has the opposite – where I start a book, think it sucks, and go back to it months later and enjoy the heck out of it.

    i’m awful. I have tossed crappy books into the trash. One was quite literally, trashed. The poor thing was in awful condition and was falling apart as I read it. It was like this elderly book was dying in my hands. it really was very tragic, i didn’t know how to save it. like an aged cat, I tried to give it the best quality of life i could before it finally died. the other book that got tossed was truly awful. It was an ARC, so I couldn’t sell it or give it to the library, and I was afraid that if I passed it on to a friend they’d never speak to me again. I was so mad that such a piece of crap could get published that I threw it out. felt a smidgen guilty after.

    Reply
    1. Erica Dakin Post author

      I suppose if it was falling apart I’ll let you off. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And yeah, with an ARC I suppose you have no other option. I would at least then recycle them rather than throw them in the bin though!

      Reply
  4. Michelle Proulx

    #4 hasn’t happened for you yet? Hmm … I’m trying to think in my own personal experience … yup. Brave New World. Read that in grade 9 English class on assignment from the teacher, and HATED it. I believe the hatred was a combination of it being English class — so we over-analyzed it to the extreme — and then also because it’s got some really adult themes and I didn’t really understand them back when I was 13. I picked it up again in university, and was blown away. In conclusion, books rock and always deserve a second chance ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    1. Erica Dakin Post author

      I guess I’m too lazy to give books I disliked a second chance. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Or maybe not lazy, there’s just too many other books I want to read (or re-read)!

      Reply
  5. Kate @ whYAnot

    #3 is happening to me more and more lately – especially with the book equivalent of romantic comedies. I’m at a different place in my life than I was 5-10 years ago and my views on life and romance were completely different. So now when I read books I loved back then I find myself annoyed with the characters for doing the things I found charming and amazing the fist time I read them.

    #4 happens to me at times. It’s more that I have some books that I love to hate. Like Wuthering Heights. I can not stand that book. But I find myself re-reading it every now and then and being transfixed with how much I adore how the author managed to write characters that I wholeheartedly despised.

    Reply
    1. Erica Dakin Post author

      Wow, that’s some masochism you’ve got going there! I prefer to just re-read books I liked. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And yes, I can see what you mean about being in a different place in your life. That would definitely affect your enjoyment of a book.

      Reply

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