- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (HoD)
- The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (TJ)
- The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (RBC)
Yep. That's my list. Three books that I read in their entirety and actively hated (well beyond a disliking). HoD and RBC and I read and despised in high school; TJ I read and despised during college. There have been other books I did not enjoy reading, that I disliked, but these are the only two that are burnt into my mind as books I really and sincerely hated. Why you might ask? Well, let me tell you.
The specifics of hating this one escape me except for a general sense of BLAH BLAH WAR BLAH BLAH MALE BLAH BLAH. If I am remembering correctly, the writing was pretty terrible; although I can't remember why. When I was in high school, someone told me I probably didn't like it because it was a war book and I was a girl. Hello sexism. I like war books. I just didn't like this one, and if I am perfectly honest, I am not exactly sure I read the whole thing back in high school when it was assigned to me.
Should I/Will I Re-Read RBC
I have absolutely no desire to read this one again. The other two on my list are a maybe and a yes for reasons listed below; however RBC is a 99% no way in hell will I pick this one up again.
Why I Hated TJ
For those who don't know TJ is Upton Sinclair's portrayal of the horrors of the meatpacking industry in Chicago during the early 1900s. It primarily focuses on immigrant workers and their exposure to massive and terrifying health and safety code violations while working in the remarkably unsanitary factories where the city's meat was packed and shipped off. It's IMPORTANT and REVEALING and BORING. Boring. Yep, I said it. I was bored. And I should not be bored while reading about the harsh reality of poverty and the disgusting horror of what went into that meat. Gross. Truly gross. I think my main problem was that the book was so amazingly preachy (as I remember it), and as a college student, preaching meant boring.
Should I/Will I Re-Read TJ
Probably. This is a book I should love. Supposedly it is a shocking expose from a muckracking author. The issues of social class fascinates me; and I do so love the nastiness of unsanitary food processing (it's like watching a train wreck). I can't decide if I actually will re-read it though.
Why I Hated HoD
Ambiguity. WTF is the book even about? That's what I remember thinking. I can distinctly remember finishing the book and having absolutely no idea what happened, why it happened, or who it really happened to. Everything felt dark and slow and blah. I know Marlowe heads into the Congo in search of a man he just really, really wants to meet; then he meets him for like five seconds; and then...eh, who knows.
Should I/Will I Re-Read HoD
Yep. I have to. It's one of the books I have to read for my graduate course in Literary Theory (oh joy). I am trying very hard to go into the book with an open mind - but this is very difficult all things considered. I'm wondering if I might research the beejeesus out of the book before reading to set me up for a more positive experience.
So what do you guys think? Should I re-read these books? Do you like them? Do you see any value in re-reading books you hated upon first read?