In the animal kingdom, judging another animal’s outer appearance is what could set the difference between a relatively long and happy life or a gruesome death. However, the human perspective does have a tendency to be a tad less urgent about personal preferences than it is about survival.
Even when I do judge books by their covers or by the first couple of pages, I still make it a point to give a plot the benefit of the doubt, but not without an initial rash thought already formulated in the back of my mind.
Therefore, this is a list of eight books that I expected to dislike, but ended up loving. Enjoy.
1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Rash judgement: “Got a feeling Pip is going to screw up several times before getting it right. Also, I must do the whole, ‘STELLA!’ scream every time Estella is mentioned. Heh. Cross references.”
After-reading conclusion: I technically was right when it came to my assumption about Pip. On the other hand, I did not expect Great Expectations to be charming, engaging, and actually funny.
The one chapter with intense dialogue switched back and forth between the demanding Miss Havisham and the cold, stoic Estella about the nature of their relationship was excellent.
2. A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce
Rash judgement: “Huh. Thin book. That is rather refreshing, but it does make me wonder if the storyline will defend itself thoroughly. First time giving James Joyce a try.”
After-reading conclusion: James Joyce is one sneaky genius. Took me a second to understand why there were so many repeated phrases as part of the main character’s internal and external dialogue in the first few chapters. The situation clarified once I realized Joyce was recreating the way a human mind processes and re-processes the same phrases and thoughts if the right mind triggers are seen.
3. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Rash judgement: “If this is anything like the movie, then I’m definitely going to laugh at the worst possible moments. Ahhh, incest. Here we go.”
After-reading conclusion: It is similar to the movie in specific scenes, but I did appreciate the novel far more simply because factors like overacting or unexpected eye twitching were exchanged for an overall rich, clear story.
4. The Sunlight Dialogues by John Gardner
Rash judgement: “No idea what this book is about. Alright. Alright, I have to read it in two days, so let’s waste no time. Over 600 pages. This is doable. Speed reading powers, activate!”
After-reading conclusion: I chose The Sunlight Dialogues as a novel to review for my English class during my Junior year of high school. Since deadlines do intensify the reading process, it led to a couple of impatient sighs whenever I encountered a lengthy monologue that would last several pages of a single chapter. Once I did re-read it, I came to appreciate the complexity of those monologues and how each character’s backstory was individually handled.
5. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind
Rash judgement: “How can a murderer be obsessed with perfume? Perfume sounds so innocent. So many questions, so little time.”
After-reading conclusion: Aside from somewhat alarming dreams and a whole new perspective on the mass production of perfumes, I must say this is one fascinating, bizarre novel that hooks the reader within its first page until the rather gruesome end. The entire novel is so consistently descriptive and the imagery is so vivid that I could not help but feel my nose tingling with all the scents presented.
6. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Rash judgement: “Oscar Wilde. Hm. I’ve heard both negative and positive reviews of this script. He usually does deliver a great story. Let’s give it a try.”
After-reading conclusion: Downright hilarious. The Importance of Being Earnest was the first entertaining play script I read from Oscar Wilde, and I definitely enjoyed every bit of it. The entangling complications, the play-on-words. Like most funny plays, it has the type of ending where everything falls into place, but it is–thankfully– not the average liquified-gummy-bears-and-sugary-death type of happy ending. Like the rest of the plot, it is witty and satisfying.
7. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Rash judgement: “Great. Yet another book about teenage angst where all characters sound like the exact same person. The innovation. Fantastic. Wait a second. Daniel Handler. That’s Lemony Snicket. Why the heck is Lemony Snicket writing about teenage angst?”
After-reading conclusion: Yet again, my appreciation for Daniel Handler was not even the least bit shattered. The characters are realistic, individually personalized, and alarmingly relatable. Handler managed to express a complex relationship where someone, in this case a classic-movie fanatic named Min, falls for a boy. As one can imagine, their relationship was a tad short-lived, and the reasons why are explained – from the beginning and their first conversations all the way to the inevitable breakup and lingering feelings.
8. Born Blue by Han Nolan
Rash judgement: “Sounds like the average storyline about following your dreams. Humble beginnings onto a brilliant singing career, difficulties around the middle. Cannot be too surprising, can it?”
After-reading conclusion: Oh, boy, was I wrong. This is possibly one of the most raw, utterly unfiltered books I have read so far from the young adult genre. If one expects a sugarcoated story, then they are definitely going to be surprised. From what I remember, it was a tad difficult to understand the slang the main character used from time to time, or the way she arranged her sentences. But once one gets wrapped into the scenario at hand, the dialogue does have a smoother flow. Bittersweet ending that leaves several unanswered questions, yet it is fitting.
So, do you agree? Which books would you consider giving a second chance?
YouTube Channel: gracewithabookinherface
Featured image via Pixabay