Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Books? Favorite Book That You Didn't Love At First

What Books? Favorite Book That You Didn't Love At First

What is the What Books? Feature?

I have so many book memories from my childhood. Different books touched me in different ways and had came to me at important times. My goal is to run this feature every other week (although life has gotten in the way lately) and featuring books that I love(d) for different reasons.

See prior editions of What Books? here:

Favorite Not-Super-Popular Book Series
Favorite Ghost/Scary Stories
The Movie Is Better Than The Book - Check out this post for lots of fabulous comments
Favorite Obscure Childhood Book
Favorite Books to Re-Read

Please feel free to contribute your own favorite books in the comments or post similarly on your blog and link to this. If people like this feature as it gets going, I think it might be a fun meme.

Favorite Books That You Didn't Love At First

A book never reads the same twice. Sometimes, the first time you read a book, it may be completely meaningless, but if you pick it up a few years later, it's like an entirely different book. Perhaps you were in a bad mood when you first read it, perhaps you weren't old enough. Whatever the reason, a person's opinion of a book can change drastically over time.

Two books came to my mind when I thought of this category. My opinions of these books turned from "blah" to "yay!" over time for different reasons.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

-Jane Austen's classic novel is one of my most treasured books. I read it every December. But it didn't start out that way. I had to read Pride and Prejudice for my 10th grade English class. I remember thinking the book was interesting at the beginning, but everyone else in my class hated it. After hearing my classmates complain incessantly about the novel, their negative views overtook my thoughts. In addition, we had a student teacher for my English class that semester who was nice, but very young, very pregnant, and who didn't always teach the way I wanted to be taught. I finished off Pride and Prejudice not hating it, but with few positive memories.
-When I was in my early 20s, I fell in love with the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice (although I don't drool over Colin Firth - he's almost old enough to be my father). I thought it was time to try the novel again. What a difference eight years makes! I instantly fell in love with the book, with its humor, astute social commentary, and its heart-stopping love story. I wasn't ready for Pride and Prejudice at 15, but at 23 it was the perfect book for me.

The President's Daughter by Ellen Emerson White

-I ordered this classic 80s novel off a Scholastic book order form when I was in 7th grade. It's about 16 year old Meghan Powers whose mother becomes President. Her life changes as she moves to Washington DC and becomes a reluctant celebrity as the daughter of the President. She has to navigate a new school and all the family trauma inherent with such a big life change.
-When I read this in 7th grade, I thought it was okay. There's a good plot and Meg was funny, but it wasn't a novel that stuck with me. I finished the book, stuck it on my shelf, and promptly forgot about it. Two years later, I suddenly became obsessed with politics. I watched and read anything and everything political that I could get my hands on. I vaguely recalled The President's Daughter and decided to re-read it. It was an entirely new book. The plot was still interesting, but what I really loved was all the details about life as a President's daughter (although I'm guessing they were far from reality). Being 14 instead of 12 made a big difference as well. I understood Meg's dry sense of humor better, appreciated the 80s cultural references (even if I was too young to really get them), and could better empathize  to her complicated relationship with her mother. The President's Daughter quickly became a book that I read again and again, often just turning to a random page to read a few well-loved lines (I'd also highly recommend the sequels: White House Autumn; Long Live The Queen; and Long May She Reign).

Which Books Did You Not Love At First That Later Became Favorites?


  1. Dracula goes on this list for me. I first tried to read it when I was in college, and there was something I missed, maybe because I'd just slogged through Frankenstein without really enjoying it, and Dracula looked even longer. It's now years later, and now that I have a taste for the Victorian age, I absolutely love it.

    I sometimes wonder if some books I disliked in high school would go down better now... although I liked a lot more of the reading for class than many people.

    The Blue Fairy's Bookshelf

  2. I really, really disliked Pride & Prejudice the first time I read it, too! I couldn't get the meaning of it. I also, surprisingly, really disliked Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler at first. I re-read it though, and it's a real favourite of mine now.

    I think sometimes the material is just so dark or deep, or thoughtful that it requires a second go :) Great question, Alison!

  3. I had a similar experience with P&P. I read it independently in high school, because my sisters were and still are ardent Austen fans. When I was 15, I couldn't tolerate reading a novel where smart women waited around until a rich, handsome guy came and married them. Yeah, there were parts that I thought were funny but for the life of me I couldn't understand why people love this book. It's not until college where I studied the context of Austen's time period that I decided to reread P&P and that's when I really discovered her talent. What most people call a love story, I see it more as social and political commentary. I'm not entirely convinced that all of her novels have a real happy ending. Great post!

  4. Oh great topic this week Alison! I can't even remember reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time, so I'm not sure what I thought about it, but this actually happened to me with The Iron King. It took me a long time to get into that one and it wasn't until after I finished and went to write my review that I started liking it the more I thought about it:)

  5. What a great topic this week! I can't think of specific books now, but I know there were a bunch I read in school and hated but then later reread them and loved.

    I think it was the combination of having to read it for school (and get tested on all the tiny details and stress instead of just enjoying the book) and the fact that I was too young to fully appreciate the books that made me dislike them.

    I'm really glad I managed to miss reading a lot of the classics in school. I read them when I was older and I feel like I appreciated them a lot more than I would have if I had been younger.

    Oh, I just remembered one now: The Call of the Wild. I HATED it when I read it in seventh grade. I just thought it was a horrible book where a poor dog died in almost every chapter. I read it again when I was in my early 20s and it's now become one of my favorite books.

  6. City of Bones actually goes on that list for me. I tried to read it pabd of twilight.

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  7. OMG! Ha, Alison. That shot out to the Scholastic book order form... freaking genius, because I remember those fondly! Oh, the good ol' days!

    Practically ever BBC production of Austen changed my views completely. Sad, but totally true!

    P.S. I was here earlier but got distracted by the shinny, check out previous posts. Sorry bout that. :P

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