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Anti-recommendations of your favorite books
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Lord Foul
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:07 am    Post subject: Anti-recommendations of your favorite books Reply with quote

It was mentioned many times that getting advised against something often leads people to do that. There is also the fact that knowing the bitter truth beforehand can improve the experience by setting the expectations at a more adequate level. This is the thread where you can enlist the downsides of your favorite books and see if people run to read them or run away.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok - Here goes. Charles Palliser's epic Dickensian style novel 'The Quincunx; the Inheritence of Lohn huffham' is my candidate.

A critic on the New York Times wrote of the book "Palliser isn't trying to write a book by Dickens - he is trying to write *every* book by Dickens!", and so indeed it would seem. The book is huge in it's scope, it's number of charachters, it's victorian grimness and most tellingly, in the complexity of it's plot. Five families, with five key members each, each given five chapters - 125 chapters in which each has his/her own perspective on events, may or may not be telling the truth (deliberately or mistakenly) and all after the same illusive pot of gold which may or may not be illusory. There you have it. Over the course of four decades John Huffham navigates through disaster heaped on cruelty heaped on tragedy heaped on vice. Will he prevail and marry his childhood sweetheart or will his dreams turn to dust.

Give it a try if you think you're up to loosing a year or two of your reading life.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OOH! I have SOOOOO got one for this...

Charles Sheffields 'Proteus Unbound'

While this is certainly one of my favourite books, I'd be hard pressed to actually recommend it to anyone
I picked it up 2nd hand years ago, and having read it, and having had NO CLUE what it was all about, i hung onto it a few years and had another go...
...and another
by the time i'd gotten through it 3 times I felt it had been well worth the effort, but man, even though i've read it again since, it's still a very hard book to grasp

Summary:
Aging heartbroken genius scientist of Earth circa 3000 AD travels a few billion miles to the Oort Cloud to find out why some space pirate is killing off or trying to force insanity upon other genius scientists
Involves quite a lot of quantum physics, parralel universes, wierd futuristic sciences and the ability to use a 'form-change' pod to transform your body into a new & exciting form
(Wings anyone? or perhaps just thick radiation-proof skin)
It's a sequel, and I've never read his first book, but as I work in a book shop and have never made any effort to get hold of it, i quess that speaks volumes...
(pun intended) Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This thread was a great idea...
..and it's so well-suited to my nature, because I accidentally anti-recommend things that I really like!

Here's one about "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch," by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

It's from a story where a bunch of people are in a gulag prison/labor camp, and the POV character (Ivan Denisovitch aka Shukov) spends his time thinking almost exclusively about:
the cold and how to manage in it (i.e. which parts of his clothing have holes in them),
the past,
which people in the camp get to be warm sometimes,
where to hide little possessions or tools he's not permitted to keep, (or hoard bread for another meal!)
how to sneak extra food for his crew at meals,
who in the camp is getting packages from family,
how he can make deals on the side for tiny scraps of this and that, and
how to keep his spirits up so he doesn't crack / give up.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linna Heartlistener wrote:
This thread was a great idea...
..and it's so well-suited to my nature, because I accidentally anti-recommend things that I really like!

Here's one about "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch," by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

It's from a story where a bunch of people are in a gulag prison/labor camp, and the POV character (Ivan Denisovitch aka Shukov) spends his time thinking almost exclusively about:
the cold and how to manage in it (i.e. which parts of his clothing have holes in them),
the past,
which people in the camp get to be warm sometimes,
where to hide little possessions or tools he's not permitted to keep, (or hoard bread for another meal!)
how to sneak extra food for his crew at meals,
who in the camp is getting packages from family,
how he can make deals on the side for tiny scraps of this and that, and
how to keep his spirits up so he doesn't crack / give up.

Upvoted 4 shore.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must be the anti-recommender pas exelance! Nothing I recommend is ever followed up by the recommendee! Wink
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually I read your description and it sounds great barring time commitment.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Holsety wrote:
...Upvoted 4 shore.
Just saw this - yay. Very Happy
I will add "This book will make you glad that wherever you live isn't TOO cold when you're reading it."

I actually know a little kid who has a bit of a "I won't let you teach me anything" thing going on... She zones out when other people are saying what they want to say.
...yet I was able to capture her attention a bit with a description of the guy smuggling items in his clothing / hiding the good tools around camp, when he gets his hands on them / why he had to.

peter wrote:
I must be the anti-recommender pas exelance! Nothing I recommend is ever followed up by the recommendee!

Actually, I thought about how this dynamic goes after having many many failed recommendation-attempts myself...
...and I realized that I often only read things once I've gotten multiple recommendations.

Oh! I remember one of my worst failed RL recommendations. It went like this:
Someone mentioned the book "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: people in need of change helping people in need of change," I think saying that she'd had it recommended to her.
She'd just been talking about the kind of discouraging counseling situations it deals with, so...
I leapt into action, very animated and very passionate, exclaiming... "Oh! It's amazing. You totally have to read it. I've got it and I haven't finished it yet, but... it's so deep, and wonderful!"
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's my anti-recommendation for the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, by Sigrid Undsett. Kristin Lavransdatter takes place in Norway, in the 14th century. The heroine for whom the book is named wakes up in the hayloft with her intended after a few too many cups of mead, and is in deep dark-ages doodoo. The rest of the book follows her complicated relationships with family and her husband, who doesn't ever seem to spend an awful lot of time at home. Along the way you learn fascinating trivia about pre-Renaissance Norwegian life, and at the end everyone you care about dies in the plague.

It's one of my top ten all time favorite series, in spite of all that. And if you didn't get enough, you can read Undset's The Master of Hestviken, which is pretty much the identical story told from a male perspective.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahhh! I just heard of Kristin Lavransdatter like last year, and it sounded like something I might like.
Now a recommendation (and an anti-recommendation!) from you.

Ahh, so many books, so little time...



Anti-recommendation of an abridged version of "Charity and its Fruits," by Jonathan Edwards. (the 18th century theologian)

The meaning of "charity" here is not like money for the poor.
It's the archaic definition - powerful un-self-centered love freely given.
Jonathan Edwards was basically a love expert.

If you hate using your imagination to conceive of beautiful things, DO NOT read this book.

If you are very determined to become worse at loving others rather than better and better as your life goes on, DO NOT read this book.

If you really really wouldn't find having more patience or wisdom useful, DO NOT read this book.

Which is to say, I don't think this book has downsides.

However, if the temptation to read it becomes to great, and you want to keep yourself from doing that, here's how ya deal with that:
(This only works for people unaccustomed to and wearied by dense 18th century writing.)
Find the free copy of the unabridged one and attempt to read it.
Then ya can tell people, "I tried to, but..."
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deer of the dawn's anti-recommendation of "Gilead"
My anti-recommendation of the same. (hers is shorter!)
Both are on the Watch's excellent "Anti-Recommendations of your Favorite Books" thread.

'"He will wipe the tears from all faces." It takes nothing from the loveliness of the verse to say that is exactly what will be required.' -Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linna Heartlistener wrote:
This thread was a great idea...
..and it's so well-suited to my nature, because I accidentally anti-recommend things that I really like!

Here's one about "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch," by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

It's from a story where a bunch of people are in a gulag prison/labor camp, and the POV character (Ivan Denisovitch aka Shukov) spends his time thinking almost exclusively about:
the cold and how to manage in it (i.e. which parts of his clothing have holes in them),
the past,
which people in the camp get to be warm sometimes,
where to hide little possessions or tools he's not permitted to keep, (or hoard bread for another meal!)
how to sneak extra food for his crew at meals,
who in the camp is getting packages from family,
how he can make deals on the side for tiny scraps of this and that, and
how to keep his spirits up so he doesn't crack / give up.


Well, that wouldn't be an anti-recommendation for a certain kind of reader, of which I'm one. That's a very good summary of the book, BTW.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DrPaul wrote:
Well, that wouldn't be an anti-recommendation for a certain kind of reader, of which I'm one. That's a very good summary of the book, BTW.


True! Banana
I actually used the "he hides little possesions in his clothes and stuff" in a conversation with an 8-year-old who often tends to 'zone out' if I try to "talk at her."
And it got her attention.
(didn't tell her which book; just "in this one book I read...")

I think that thinking-out and writing up my anti-recommendation was good for being able to do that.

And thank you.
I am not a super-literature-knowledgable person, so I didn't actually know it was a fitting summary!
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iain Pears's An Instance of the Fingerpost.

First of all, the title. What on earth does that even mean? It says nothing, nothing about the book or the characters!!

Then you get to read the same story three times, from beginning to end, told from the perspective of three very different people. One of the dudes who tells the story is such an arrogant S.O.B. you hate the guy by paragraph 2.

It's set in a London that would have made Dickens shudder. And talk about gory details!! You can feel the grit and dankness. Is that mud, or old blood upon my fingers?

And by version three OF THE SAME STORY, you realize you had no idea what was going on for the last 900 pages. Nor that love was happening.

It's one of the best books ever.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds interesting.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Interrogative Mind by Padget Powell has no story, no characters and no discernible beginning, middle or end. In fact it isn't really a book at all - just a series of questions that ebb and flow this way and that, in a curiously satisfying manner.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"...the almond tree blossoms[1], the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home..."
from Ecclesiastes 12:5

Someone reminded me of the existence of the book "Gilead" last weekend, and - you'll have to forgive me - I've been a bit weepy ever since!
Yep. I heard this quote, remembered the book, and I choked up a bit right then and there:
Marilynne Robinson wrote:
I love this town. I think sometimes of going into the ground here as a last wild gesture of love-I too will smolder away the time until the great and general incandescence.

By the next day, I was googling for quotes from the book. (I read it like 2 years ago!)

So, next, I was confronted with:
"In my present situation, now that I am about to leave this world, I realize there is nothing more astonishing than a human face."

And then this one:
"You two are dancing around in your iridescent little downpour whooping and stomping as sane people ought to do when they encounter a thing so miraculous as water."

Pretty soon I was looking up Gilead in Google Books, although I feel bad about that because I'm not sure how sketch Google Books is. (?)
Before I knew it, I'd read 10 pages of it - though it felt like less - and was wondering, "how are so many good quotes from that book all in that small cluster of pages?"

And, too, I happened upon one of the poignant images from that book that has stuck with me the most:
a small-town pastor walking around his seemingly-unimportant small town at an odd hour of the night, and seeing which houses have lights on in them.
Marilynne Robinson wrote:
People are always up in the night, with their colicky babies and their sick children, or fighting or worrying or full of guilt. And, of course, the milkmen and all the people on early shifts and late shifts. Sometimes when I walked past the house of one of my own families [who go to the church he pastors at] and saw lights on, I'd think maybe I should stop and see if there was a problem I could help with, but then I'd decide it might be an intrusion and I'd go on. Past the Boughtons' house, too. It was years before I really knew what was troubling them, close as we had always been. It was on the nights I didn't sleep at all and I didn't feel like reading that I'd walk through town at one or two o'clock. In the old days I could walk down every single street, past every house, in about an hour. I'd try to remember the people who lived in each one, and whatever I knew about them, which was often quite a lot, since many of the ones who weren't mine were Boughton's. [other pastor in his town, his best friend] And I'd pray for them. And I'd imagine peace they didn't expect and couldn't account for descending on their illness or their quarreling or their dreams. Then I'd go into the church and pray some more and wait for daylight. I've often been sorry to see a night end, even while I have loved seeing the dawn come.[2]

And it just wrecks me, because the narrator (John Ames) knows this secret: all these people have their lives going on in secret, within the walls of those little homes - worlds unknown to the outside observer, worlds only hinted at by the fact the lights are burning at 4am. Truly,
"The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy."

And the part about night ending and the dawn coming is also escatalogical.

And you giggle a little because it came after the section where he said, "After a while I did begin to wonder if I liked the church better with no people in it."
A pastor who prefers an empty church building with no people in it?
Well, maybe he does - and maybe he has his reasons - but, you're not fooling us, Pastor Ames - you love the people.

The second thought I got from my 10-page "mini-binge" was, "Oh. One reason this book is so beautiful is that every page is about the transience of life."
(it's a memoir that a dying father is writing to his young son, for he had a son in his old age.)

So - there you go!
A book that doesn't shy away from death, and in fact probably doesn't really pause for the span of an entire page from thinking about life and death and life eternal!
You wanna read it, now, right?

[1] One color of almond trees blossoms is white. So they are covered with white, like the white hair of old age. Most of you may know this, and I wince at the interruption the footnote created, but the first time I heard it, it sure helped me with the poetry.
[2] See how I went all rusmeister on that there?



deer wrote:
...You can feel the grit and dankness. Is that mud, or old blood upon my fingers?

And by version three OF THE SAME STORY, you realize you had no idea what was going on for the last 900 pages. Nor that love was happening.
^This is great!
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"We human beings do real harm. History could make a stone weep." -Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson

deer of the dawn's anti-recommendation of "Gilead"
My anti-recommendation of the same. (hers is shorter!)
Both are on the Watch's excellent "Anti-Recommendations of your Favorite Books" thread.

'"He will wipe the tears from all faces." It takes nothing from the loveliness of the verse to say that is exactly what will be required.' -Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like Gilead is going on my TBR short list!
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reading it now, and not sorry.

An old preacher sees his death imminent and rambles on about life for hundreds of pages in the form of writing to his little son. Almost nothing happens and there is little dialog. He references Karl Barth and others known only to seminarians, while dropping anecdotes about forgotten Kansas history. The church building is falling down, the crops are withering, and he worries about his much younger wife and their son, what will become of them after he is gone. You have to be a real logophile to read this, because all of this nothing-happening is described in prose that is spare and unsparing. And for this, Robinson got a Pulitzer?!
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 3:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL

Anything by Clive Barker .. I think its Clive Barker .. but also the Joshua Books 🤢
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