I didn’t major in English to get paid the big bucks, I majored in it because of how much I love to read. I was already a voracious reader before this point, but while I was in college I was introduced to a new world of literature that I hadn’t known about prior. Some of those books remain some of my favorites to this day, but there are quite a few of them that I didn’t particularly like—ones that I found to be a chore to tread through.
1. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
The Price of Salt (adapted to film as Carol) was probably my least favorite book to read out of all my years of college. It tells the story of a girl named Therese who is living an unfulfilling life with an unfulfilling boyfriend. She acquires a job at Macy’s as she struggles to work her way up in the theatre world. While at Macy’s, she meets an older woman named Carol, who she falls deeply in love with. The story never fully goes into detail about whether or not the two women develop a physical relationship, but it is clear that the two care very much for one another.
Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the pacing. I found the relationship to escalate far too fast. It ended up feeling unrealistic and I never really bought the romance as a result. Therese also becomes so deeply obsessed with Carol that it made me cringe at every page-turn.
2. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Okay, I take it back…I think this was my least favorite book I ever had to read in college, and I had to read it three separate times. Once was apparently not enough. I guess I’m just not a huge fan of imperialist/colonialist texts, and that’s exactly what Heart of Darkness is. This 1899 novel tells the story of a man named Charles Marlowe who travels deep into the African wilderness, and loses sight of himself amidst the backdrop of the African jungles. While I see the merit in a novel such as this one, I personally found it utterly boring and all I can say is that it filled me with “…horror! The horror!”
3. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
This might be an unpopular opinion, but Romeo and Juliet is probably my least favorite Shakespeare play. We had read this one my sophomore year of high school, but it returned to me in college when I took a class on Shakespeare’s plays. I find the plot to be vaguely boring, and the plight of the two lovers is not one that particularly interests me. Theirs is puppy love, and they essentially die after knowing each other for a very short period of time. In my opinion, there are many other plays Shakespeare wrote that are far more fascinating and worth the time and effort.
4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I wish I could earnestly say that I enjoyed reading Little Women, but the truth of the matter is that I did not. Maybe it was a bad semester to have been assigned this reading because I know that when I was asked to read this text it was in the midst of a particularly work-intensive time period. The story of Marmee and her four daughters struggling to survive while Mr. March (husband and father) is off in the Civil War simply did not cut it for me. And as with all college classes, we were required to speed through the novel, so perhaps I simply wasn’t able to fully appreciate the story for that reason.
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
In my defense, reading Huckleberry Finn when your professor is a Twain scholar is truly a daunting task to undertake. We spent an abnormally long amount of time dissecting this novel, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at the cover of one of Twain’s novels without recounting some random detail about the man’s life and works. Huckleberry Finn tells the story of young Huck Finn who is a wild and adventurous child. He does not appreciate society or the conformities that it requires of him, so he escapes with a runaway slave on a raft down the Mississippi River. One of the things I did fully appreciate regarding this 1884 novel was how magnificent Twain paints the famous river, because it truly is a sight to behold. But aside from that? I found Huck Finn to be a rather annoying and troublesome child.
So there you have it, five novels I was forced to read that just did not do it for me. Maybe I’ll give them another try now that I can flip through them at my own pace. Except for Heart of Darkness. Three times was enough for three lifetimes!
Feature Image Via WFL Children’s Room Blog