In response to Lindsey's latest post, asking the question whether or not there are certain books I feel pressure to enjoy because they are considered "classics" or because they are "best-sellers" but simply can't find it in myself to read:
I, too, find it difficult to get into A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. I started it, got a couple of chapters in, and just couldn't keep it going. It's so boring - at least in the beginning it is, and that's the part that needs to capture you. I figured if it started out this boring, it simply didn't deserve all the hype it received, and set it aside, never to pick it up again.
Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse. I started it in the fifth grade. Having read and liked some of Hesse's previous writings, and this particular book being on the recommended reading list for my grade - it was an award-winning book - I totally expected to enjoy it thoroughly. Ya know, I give books a pretty good run before I'll set them down. (I also have a rule that if I'm at least three-quarters of my way through the book, it has to turn pretty far down hill for me to not finish it.) I was probably a good third of my way through, when it just became too dry for me to finish. It was dusty alright, but nothing good was coming from it. I have since thought that perhaps I would pick it back up, but every time I see it in a library, I just find myself not attracted in the least sense of the word.
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I attribute this mainly to my lack of understanding. I started this book I think my freshman year of high school - it might have been 8th grade - and that's a pretty young age for anyone, even a well-read person like myself, to be delving into the dark and obviously troubled mind of Dostoevsky. If there's one thing I know about Eastern Europeans, it's that they don't do anything without a severe amount of passion; everything from their drinking to their writing is done with every fiber of their being. (The one excuse may be made for a few certain co-workers of mine, who felt that work required no passion, and therefore they got minimal hours.) I felt bad for setting this book down, but it was just too much for me. Maybe I'll give it another try - I'll probably have to for school some time soon anyway. My critiquing will be more accurate then.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Okay, these books are honestly, amazing. The highly detailed imagination that went into creating the world of Middle Earth, the creatures within it, and the languages that were involved is, in a word, baffling. They even include my all-time favorite, most-beloved character in all of literature, aside from Christ, Samwise Gamgee. But, unless you are big into literature, particularly of that time, or are interested in analyzing writing styles of early-1900's authors (call me weird, I like that stuff), than really I don't see any reason for you to read these books. Tolkien, as excellent a writer as he is, does tend to draw things out a little too long. This makes certain chapters long and dry. And although I don't normally suggest movies in place of books, I make this the exception. Peter Jackson followed the books very carefully, and quite frankly, the story is easier to watch than to read. You get the same feeling for the characters as you do from the books (the casting job was phenomenal), and the message, albeit not intended by Tolkien, is still there.