Books I Like Versus Books I Think I Ought to Like

Back in junior high school and high school we had to read books, but there were also books I read because I wanted to read them.  I think this distinction has seeped into my unconscious and surfaced as a feeling that there are certain books that are actually Good and Good For Me, and others that are just enjoyable.   The books I think I ought to like are:

  • about realistic limited characters with boring jobs who struggle with their families and their powerlessness
  • realistic
  • old
  • long
  • hard to read
  • make you aware of language as language — they have prose that is beautiful and self-conscious
  • are in favor of social change
  • serious
  • depressing — they castigate us for our hopes and strip us of our illusions
  • they are unpopular — they make me feel smart and special for liking them while most people would not like them.
  • morally complex

Examples: Jude the Obscure, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Magic Mountain

In contrast the books I like to read

  • are titillating
  • take me to amazing fantastic worlds
  • are funny
  • are violent
  • language does the job but doesn’t annoy me or call attention to itself.
  • were written recently
  • full of wish fulfillment
  • have cool ideas but don’t take them seriously.
  • the characters are extreme — geniuses, morons, femme vitales, weirdos

Example: Gone Girl, Harry Potter, The Shadow of the Torturer.



8 thoughts on “Books I Like Versus Books I Think I Ought to Like

  1. Cyber-Human-Sex: It’s a hot meme and topic these days. Thanks for playing around with it in your fiction foray. I found this to be lightly comical with those piercing sentences. It makes me want to write sci-fi comedy.

    • In my mind the joke is that the author claims to have these abstract philosophical notions about the future of humanity, but reveals himself to be a weirdo obsessed with alpacas. So it kind of makes you wonder whether his prognostications are reliable. And by extension makes you wonder the same thing about anybody’s prognostications.

  2. I’ve been coming to terms with this same feeling for the last year or so. Turns out reading is fun! I had nearly forgotten. Also turns out I like urban fantasy and …romance. I’m still coming to terms with it.

  3. Susan says:

    Cyborg – Human sex. Maybe not so Sci-Fi and maybe not so comical as true 1969 Star Trek “Requiem for Methusalah”. Kirk falls for a beautiful but perhaps not so human woman. OK so that’s not so far out. BUT in that same room is a butler type drone flying around with a disease cure…. a great flip cellphone with a gold mesh screen and, get this,………. A large flat screen TV. A LARGE FLAT SCREEN TV. It’s a white screen and the picture quality is great. 🙂 So considering Kirk’s non human beautiful women in the silver off the shoulder gown ….. could she program herself by using internet dating sites?

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