I’m currently slogging my way through the ginormous The Goldfinch, written by Donna Tartt, and I have broken one of my rules about reading a book – looking up reviews before I have finished. I like reading reviews, but it’s not always a positive addition to my experience. Sometimes, a review is able to put into words thoughts I had that I wasn’t able to communicate, but a lot of the times, I find myself noticing the little nitpicky things that the review pointed out and finding my experience tarred. Like for movies, I look up reviews on movies before I go to watch – which is probably not the best idea, because I go into movies with a predisposition to either hate it or love it.
And most of the time, anyways, I have this annoying habit of not liking things that people like, or at least being wary of things that people like. I’m contrary. Whatever. (This partly explains why I don’t want to go watch Interstellar, because even though I might like it, I’m sort of determined to not like it, so why spend $13 to go watch a movie I already don’t want to like…)
For books, I try to form my own judgment first, to read as objectively as possible, to get through as much as I can. I don’t like not finishing a book. I always remember my experience with Gone With The Wind, where I stopped reading before Scarlett got married (the first time) because I got bored, which was such a shame because after she gets married is where the fun begins, so the next time I read it I forced myself to finish it and I loved it.
Perhaps I should get around to reading Lord of the Rings. That’s another book I stopped reading because I got bored.
Anyways, it’s been tough getting through The Goldfinch. There are some passages (so far) that I really like, but for the most part it’s just a big fat book that I lug to work with me. Oddly, I’ve been able to read it on the BART without feeling carsick! So that’s what I’ve been doing on my commutes (now that Serial is over, haha). But I was curious to see what the buzz was about and if I should be waiting for something amazing, so I looked up some reviews. The first one I read was this Vanity Fair article – which summarized some of the thoughts of the “most important reviews” as well as provided insight on the general world of literary criticism that I had no idea existed before. It is true, that this is someone’s career – they get paid to form an opinion. And as long as people are reading, is it so bad that they choose to read crap?
Okay, so “crap” is not a very sophisticated word, but it’s the first one that came to mind, so bear with me. It’s how I feel about The Hunger Games and The Fault In Our Stars and Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight. I didn’t actually read any of these titles besides skimming through TFIOS so maybe I should read before I speak, but even just flipping through these books I was bored by the language. And yet I choose to read Harry Potter and Jane Austen books, so maybe you can’t trust my tastes. (But… Harry Potter… is amazing!!!!)
I don’t want to give up, so I’ll keep reading the other 300 or so pages of The Goldfinch that I have left, and see if I’m left with a better opinion of the book and let you know.
Or you can read the book yourself and form your own opinion!