What's the most overrated book you've read?

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by White Coat Investor » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:17 pm

SPG8 wrote:
Bungo wrote:Catch-22
Hesus...

It's one of the three funniest books ever written.

I really thought my first response would be to the obligatory mention of A Confederacy of Dunces.

Well done, everyone.
It's much funnier if you're in the Air Force.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by White Coat Investor » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:20 pm

newbie001 wrote:As one of the above posters said, this might bring out the long knives, but Catcher in the Rye is always on my list of overrated. The Old Man and the Sea and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man get honorable mention.
Yes, anything by Ernest Hemingway. My most recent disappointment was The Sun Always Rises
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by White Coat Investor » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:21 pm

gkaplan wrote:As I Lay Dying
That brings back some painful high school (or was it college) memories.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by Bharat » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:27 pm

madsinger wrote:Life of Pi

I don't think I've ever been so disappointed or angry reading a book of fiction...
+1. It's an amateurish effort. I think book's success is due to the "innocent view of various religions" and the "twist" at the end.

There obviously are more overrated books - Many of the business/management top sellers fall into this category.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by Manbaerpig » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:42 pm

anything... absolutely anything by Dickens (or on Oprah)

(I love Hemingway... in a very dirty way. His style works for me.... and obviously many others :) )

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by nisiprius » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:49 pm

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.

I have not personally read Paradise Lost by John Milton but I once tried and failed, and cannot resist quoting:
He said: "Oh, don't talk about rewards. Look at Milton, who only got £5 for 'Paradise Lost.'

"And a great deal too much," I rejoined promptly. "I would have given him twice as much myself not to have written it at all."
I genuinely liked The Catcher in the Rye. Never have really been able to get into Hemingway--I think Maxwell Perkins must have been a brilliant editor and promoter.

The Dan Brown books are... weird. The only sense in which I think they are overrated is that I read The Da Vinci Code because of an NPR interview that made me expect it to be, you know, actually good. I do find his books strangely readable, despite being even less well written than Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt® books. There is a certain horrid fascination in things like its never occurring to a supposed cryptologist that an encrypted message might be written in mirror writing, like, you know, Leonard Da Vinci's notebooks. I worry, though, about his penchant for turning anything slightly unusual becomes a little-known secret and evidence of some great conspiracy... Is Opus Dei really all that different in kind from the International Order of Odd Fellows? And is it a good idea to write a book that might lead thousands of readers to think that it is? I feel sorry for any organization, be it Opus Dei or CERN, that becomes grist for his plot mill.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by Lana » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:53 pm

I tried to read Swan's Way by Marcel Proust, but I just couldn't do it.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by SPG8 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:54 pm

1. Sound and the Fury - it's experimental, he even used the point of view of a character with autism. Sometimes authors try things. McInerney wrote Bright Lights, Big City in the second person. I wouldn't even consider these eligible for consideration on an overrated list.

2. The Old Man and the Sea - it's infinitely more difficult to be clear and concise than it is to be opaque and verbose. I love the Russians, but who knew a single nationality could have such a penchant for spreading 250 page novels over 700+ pages.

3. Catcher in the Rye - It seems obstinate to look at everything as semantically independent (how would you ever get any of the references?). What's the movie counterpart to Catcher, maybe The Graduate? Many of the Catcher objections could probably be leveled against The Graduate as well, but the movie doesn't suddenly suck because it's 40+ years old.

Sheesh, tough crowd.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by leo383 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:55 pm

The Name of the Rose
Catch-22
Foucault's Pendulum

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by ObliviousInvestor » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:59 pm

The Catcher in the Rye for me.

It's always fun to see such different viewpoints. Many of my favorite books have been listed in this thread: Fight Club is probably the funniest thing I've ever read. Catch-22 was super. And I liked The Name of the Rose quite a lot.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by ilmartello » Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:00 pm

rrosenkoetter wrote:
Bungo wrote:plus the obligatory Tolkien (speaking of overrated).
Oh no you didn't!

:)
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:04 pm

edge wrote:Rich Dad Poor Dad. Read 3 pages.
Thank you for saving me the effort of having to type the name of the book that I despised most deeply. Unfortunately, I read more than three pages ... something like five.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by englishgirl » Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:16 pm

Oh! Two more of my favorites have ended up on people's lists. I've read The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum each multiple times, and really enjoyed them.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by kramer » Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:29 pm

Anything by Thomas Friedman was the first thing that popped into my head upon seeing the title of this thread.

I have to share the disappointment with Ayn Rand's Fountainhead. I only got half way through it. What a contrast with the book I had read just before that, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, which I only read for the first time as an adult and was one of the most gripping novels I have ever read.

Gripping books that I have read in the past few months that I just couldn't put down:

* The Emperor of All Maladies, by Siddhartha Muhkerjee (about cancer and which subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize)
* Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef
* Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by LazyTraders » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:03 pm

Jim Cramer's Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich
Jim Cramer is the champion of the middle-class investor. Every night on Mad Money, he provides valuable information about stocks, steering investors away from danger zones and leading them to the investments that can turn a lackluster portfolio into a powerhouse of profit. In his new book, he shows investors how to take the advice on his TV program and put it into action.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by chipperd » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:15 pm

Agree with the Ann Rand picks. Don't understand why this has such a hold over some

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by Christine_NM » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:35 pm

Golding's Lord of the Flies. Yuck.

Not to be confused, of course, with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, which is my all-time favorite.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by dbonnett » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:47 pm

Atlas Shrugged

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by leonard » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:53 pm

Who's forcing everyone to read books they don't like? Why not close the book (or erase it) and move on?
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by Igglesman » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:02 pm

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I know the majority of people really like this book, I just did not.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by wilson08 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:04 pm

newbie001 wrote:As one of the above posters said, this might bring out the long knives, but Catcher in the Rye is always on my list of overrated. The Old Man and the Sea and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man get honorable mention.
Totally agree about "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"
I like to paint and enjoy art history so the title intrigued me,
I am not that familiar with the works of James Joyce but this
particular book was horrible, I very seldom start a book and
not finish even if it is mediocre but this was an exception.
Very little abour art or the life of an artist and more about
his conflict with the Catholic Church.

Wilson

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by wilson08 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:08 pm

newbie001 wrote:I can't stop posting on this thread- all the terrible books I've read throughout the years have come flooding back to me.

Has anyone read The Paper Chase? It's often recommended to people on their way to law school. Boy was it dull.
Did not read the book but the 1973 movie
"The Paper Chase" was great with John Houseman
as the tyrannical Kingsfield and Timothy Bottoms as
James Hart.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by Colorado13 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:22 pm

Igglesman wrote:Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I know the majority of people really like this book, I just did not.
I gave up on that one after about 20 pages... I used to 'force' myself to finish books that I had started (especially if I had purchased them) but I eventually realized that life is too short to read books that don't hold my interest. I started reading David Byrne's "Bicycle Diaries" but will likely abandon that very soon.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by Sam I Am » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:30 pm

Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. I couldn't get into it, as much as I wanted to do so. And, the movie was just as bad, I simply couldn't watch all of it. Never finished either.

Another book I found totally unreadable was by V.S. Naipaul, cannot remember title.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by norookie » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:48 pm

:D Ummmmmm, I put it down if its crappy. If Its educational, thats another issue.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by chaz » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:11 pm

"The Lovers" by John Connolly. Ghosts and evil spirits!
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by peter71 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:13 pm

My dad's an English prof and he told me to read Ulysses with a guide.

http://www.amazon.com/New-Bloomsday-Boo ... 0415138582

Even though I loved THE DEAD and had a course on Irish lit in college, I'd agree with all the haters if I hadn't done so. And I still wouldn't exactly rave about it, but it was something to do. As for FINNEGAN'S WAKE . . . at least it makes for a good Irish pub name.

Oh, per the original question, I hated EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED. But I did it as a book on tape (which I can admit to having finished Ulysses :D ) Thumbs up on THE CORRECTIONS.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by lightheir » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:16 pm

I can't believe folks are throwing Guns Germs and Steel in here. That's some incredible anthropological insights there that shed great insight into human nature in general - I still refer to his findings regularly when debating various subjects with people - it crosses science, politics, philosophy, etc. One of my highest recommended books! Please xplain why you nonfans think it's so overrated - am curious.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by cinghiale » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:45 pm

Need to chime in with lightheir here. I thought Guns, Germs, and Steel was an awfully good attempt at "grand theory." I would couple it with Robert Wright's equally-good-but-not-as-well-known Nonzero. Together, they provide some fascinating insights about how societies develop and prosper (and why some societies have made such impressive strides while others have languished).

What's the complaint? Too many notes? (read Amadeus here, not references at the end of the book)
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by stoptothink » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:47 pm

As difficult as the language makes it to read, I love Umberto Eco's stuff, especially "The Name of the Rose." Also thoroughly enjoyed "Catcher in the Rye" despite being a number of decades too late to completely relate to it. Interesting to note that the same works keep being brought up; some stuff just elicits strong feelings, good or bad.

I have heard way too many horror stories about Joyce's "Ullyses," doubt I'll ever even attempt that one.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by SPG8 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:50 pm

peter71 wrote:My dad's an English prof and he told me to read Ulysses with a guide.
+1

I just had a feeling of where this was going, and threw it out there.

Quality isn't subjective (but you'd have to get through Pirsig to understand that).

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by Whiggish Boffin » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:55 pm

A Bookmark
by Thomas Disch

Four years ago I started reading Proust.
Although I'm past the halfway point, I still
Have seven hundred pages of reduced
Type left before I reach the end. I will
Slog through. It can't get much more dull than what
Is happening now: he's buying crepe-de-chine
Wraps and a real, well-documented hat
For his imaginary Albertine.
Oh, what a slimy sort he must have been—
So weak, so sweetly poisonous, so fey!
Four years ago, by God!—and even then
How I was looking forward to the day
I would be able to forgive, at last,
And to forget Remembrance of Things Past.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by SecretAsianMan » Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:06 pm

The Old Man and the Sea takes the prize for me. I read it when I was 20, though, so would possibly feel differently if I read it today. On the bright side, at least it's short. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of my choice is that I'm a huge Hemingway fan and love most of his other works.

Of the books mentioned above, I'd most disagree with Catch-22. Great novel.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by gkaplan » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:20 pm

I guess I'm the only one who liked The Old Man and the Sea.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by bob90245 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:40 pm

A long time ago, I started reading The Wealthy Barber figuring it was supposed to be a good book. My hazy memory says it was just too painful to continue reading after around halfway through.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by Mr Grumpy » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:54 pm

For me, I immediately thought of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. He can be a good writer, but not in this case.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by SunDevil » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:12 pm

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is the first book that comes to mind. The ending left me furious :evil:

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by sschullo » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:17 pm

Portneys Complaint, Valley of the Dolls and Unbearable lightness of Being
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by Fallible » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:23 pm

gkaplan wrote:I guess I'm the only one who liked The Old Man and the Sea.
I liked it, though I liked most of Hemingway, especially his short stories, because of his minimalist writing style.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by tbradnc » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:26 pm

Cold Mountain.

My wife kept me awake with the light on in the bedroom for a week reading this book talking about how good it was.

I've tried to read it twice and can't get past a few pages. So many adjectives...

It was a cold, wet, rainy night when Jim slowly walked in with his worn, blue jeans and his leather coat wound around his long, lanky, arm......

Can't do it.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by rob » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:32 pm

Sons and Lovers.... What trash
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by graveday » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:42 pm

newbie001 wrote:
bertilak wrote:
SamGamgee wrote:Those participating in this thread would probably enjoy reading something Orson Scott Card wrote recently about the "literary canon". Follow the link below, and then scroll down about half-way to where he begins with, "I recently took one of the Great Courses on the Western Literary Canon..."

http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/ever ... 1-23.shtml
A very good read. Thanks for posting the link. I encourage others reading this thread who may have skipped over that to take a chance on it.

A bit off-topic, but from that link:

"I think of Nordhoff & Hall's Bounty Trilogy, the third volume of which, Pitcairn's Island, struck me to the heart as a great tragedy, and the second volume of which, Men Against the Sea, became my exemplar of how the villain of one story can be the hero of the next, without changing even a shred of the character."

That trilogy is the most underrated work I've ever read. An absolutely fascinating read.
I just finished 'Ender's Game' and liked it. In fact, I liked Ulysses, Catch-22, Catcher In the Rye, and a lot of the 'canon'. That said, I was most fascinated to find that Card was Mormon, and supposedly favors '______' for president....
Well, find out for yourselves.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by matt1882 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:53 pm

Hamlet. Shakespeare was a hack.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by Qtman » Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:58 pm

Rich dad, poor dad - yes I read it years ago. Total bs.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by sschullo » Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:22 pm

graveday wrote:
newbie001 wrote:
bertilak wrote:
SamGamgee wrote:Those participating in this thread would probably enjoy reading something Orson Scott Card wrote recently about the "literary canon". Follow the link below, and then scroll down about half-way to where he begins with, "I recently took one of the Great Courses on the Western Literary Canon..."

http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/ever ... 1-23.shtml
A very good read. Thanks for posting the link. I encourage others reading this thread who may have skipped over that to take a chance on it.

A bit off-topic, but from that link:

"I think of Nordhoff & Hall's Bounty Trilogy, the third volume of which, Pitcairn's Island, struck me to the heart as a great

tragedy, and the second volume of which, Men Against the Sea, became my exemplar of how the villain of one story can
be the hero of the next, without changing even a shred of the character."

That trilogy is the most underrated work I've ever read. An absolutely fascinating read.
I just finished 'Ender's Game' and liked it. In fact, I liked Ulysses, Catch-22, Catcher In the Rye, and a lot of the 'canon'. That said, I was most fascinated to find that Card was Mormon, and supposedly favors '______' for president....
Well, find out for yourselves.
Ender's Game has a fantastic ending.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by stlutz » Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:05 am

Sheesh, tough crowd.
LOL! I was kind of thinking that those on the forum who have written books (Rick, Larry, Taylor etc.) might want to start a thread on the most overrated readers. :)

Reading is an interaction between reader and the work that happens at a particular point in time. As noted by EmergDoc, Catch 22 resonates more if you've been in the military; I found Generation X to be incredible when I read it as an overeducated/underemployed twentysomething in the 1990s. If I picked it up for the first time today, I'd probably call it overrated. I could see where Confederacy of Dunces could be the funniest thing you've ever read if the timing is right (the case w/ me), or it could be tiresome if the timing is wrong.

For books like Ulysses or The Sound and the Fury, you have to go into it knowing you'll need help or you just get frustrated. Cormac McCarthy is tough if you aren't prepared for the all-out assault that is about to come when you open the cover.

So, perhaps we should all try picking up something we didn't like at a later date. I know Yeats didn't do much for me while I was in college, but I"m confident he will be my favorite poet when I'm 70.

Oh, and by the way, nothing by Hemingway could ever be overrated. Now TS Eliot--that's another story...

:)

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by epilnk » Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:57 am

newbie001 wrote:
cinghiale wrote:I suspect this will cause some of the faithful to break out the long knives:

Atlas Shrugged

Choppy, turgid prose; two-dimensional characters; plodding story line.

Yes, there is an ideogical "something" percolating there, but it gets swamped in the awful writing.
I just posted something, but apparently was lost. Yes, couldn't agree more. Not necessarily disagreeing with the ideas behind it, but way too simplistic and heavy handed to be good literature, IMO.
That's mine too. Holy crap is that some bad writing! The Fountainhead is arguably worse from a purely literary perspective, but I have to give my vote to Atlas Shrugged because it is 1) more highly rated and 2) longer.
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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by epilnk » Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:06 am

randomwalk wrote:
stoptothink wrote:I had been interested in reading Pirsig's work for years and finally found a copy for like $2 at the Border's liquidation sale. At first I was really disappointed, his writing style certainly is "different." About halfway through I started really reading it, examing every line, and there are some wonderful little morsel's in that book. I ended up highlighting a bunch of really powerful passages. I admit it was extremely hard to read, but I am glad I got through it.
Pirsig's book changed my life when I read it at 19. Not sure it could do the same today. Makes me think it may be important to read the right book at the right time(s). Some books have the benefit of being meaningful in different ways as we age, but some are probably appreciated only at particular stages of our lives.
That's exactly my take on it. I can't say it changed my life at 20 (I think), but it made a huge impact on me. I happened to pick up a copy again when I was in my early 40s and was blown away by how prosaic and stupefyingly dull it seemed. What happened to all those insights that were in there 20 years earlier?

Maybe when I grow up I'll be able to appreciate James Joyce and Tolstoy. I'm kind of hoping I just tried those too young.

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by steve roy » Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:14 am

SPG8 wrote:
Bungo wrote:Catch-22
Hesus...

It's one of the three funniest books ever written.
I read "Catch 22" while a senior in high school. I picked it up in paperback, attracted by the flyboy on the cover. I thought it was a standard-issue war novel and boy was I surprised. (I knew NOTHING about it.)

I started reading the thing and started roaring with laughter. I couldn't believe how funny it was. I also liked the movie version, although it's not as memorable as the book. The best Heller-esque novel I've read after "Catch 22" was Joe Wambaugh's "The Choirboys."

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Re: What's the most overrated book you've read?

Post by epilnk » Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:14 am

stlutz wrote:Oh, and by the way, nothing by Hemingway could ever be overrated. Now TS Eliot--that's another story...

:)
Hemingway is a matter of taste - either you love him or you hate him. I can't stand him. But I don't consider him overrated; I can see his mastery of the craft in there, I just don't enjoy reading it.

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