No Accounting For Taste
“The Catcher in the Rye is a BS book about some piss-ant kid.” This was just stated by a coworker of mine at The Literary Duck. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger is one of my favorite books… ever. So, instinctually, I was a bit affronted (comforted somewhat by the fact the book has sold in the ballpark of 100 million copies, so I’m likely not alone in my high regard for the slender tome.) Popularity notwithstanding (we all know a lot of dross sells well in the world of entertainment), it all got me wondering: what else among my esteemed coworkers ranks tops on their bottom-lists?
I’ve worked for a long time in the “opinion” business—selling books and music to people who, naturally, think their taste is the best taste. To make it in markets like these, you have to walk a very thin tightrope, cringing inside while someone expresses adoration for something you can’t stand. The publishing business, alongside a lot of other entertainment options, relies on word of mouth and peer pressure; after all, a true classic or masterpiece really doesn’t come along that often, so to continue separating the consumer from their dollar you have to accomplish two things: tickle your vanity by leading you to believe your purchase places you among the very tastiest of tastemakers, or, convince you “everyone else loves it and so should you.”
But of course it doesn’t always work. Crap becomes a bestseller (ahem, I’m looking at you 50 Shades of Grey), great stuff never gets heard, read or seen, and of course, many consumers feel cheated when they fall for the hype only to come home with a shiny new paperweight. So, with all this in mind I asked my coworkers: What have you read (and hated) because everyone else loved it, and/or what classic have they never read and felt guilty about having never read? (Last names have been withheld to protect the innocent, or guilty, depending on your point of view).
Gina – Never read: Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Alysen – Never read: Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
Laura – Never read: a single Harry Potter book, JK Rowling
Sally – Read and hated: The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Jacob – Read and hated: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Bruce – Never read: Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Melissa – Read and hated: The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
Nathan – Never read: Walden, Henry David Thoreau
David – Read and hated: Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
Shelley – Read and hated (couldn’t finish): Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Merisa – Never read: Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Me—Never read: Ulysses, James Joyce.