Early in this past Spring semester, a student of mine recommended a book to me. She was so excited, “Oh! You’ll love it, Mrs. Watson! I’ll bring you my copy so you can read it! I just know you’ll love it!” It took most of the semester, but she finally brought the book for me. Because the end of the semester is so busy for me, it was after the semester was over before I was finally able to begin reading it.
Unfortunately, my student’s prediction that I would love the book did not come true. From the very first chapter, I was grossed out, disgusted, and just plain and simply disappointed. The book is a so-called “modern” interpretation on a great British classic. This modern version failed to capture my attention and it was, plain and simply, just awful.
In spite of that fact, I determinedly plowed through the novel until I finished it. A number of friends of mine told me that they would never force themselves to finish a book they so clearly disliked and that they would not waste their precious time on such drivel. I almost didn’t finish reading the book because it was so bad.
But something inside me compelled me to finish the book. There are very few books in my life that I have begun and not finished. One of them was a book I learned was written by a cult leader after I started reading it. Once I learned that about the author, I quickly got rid of that particular book. The only other books I’ve never finished are coloring books. I’ve almost always finished every single book I have ever started reading, whether I liked the book or not.
There have been plenty of books I have not enjoyed in the slightest, but I have finished every single one. A few of those books are:
- Needful Things by Stephen King
- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Graham-Smith
- All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
- The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
- The House of Night series by P. C. and Kristin Cast
Why? Because I read. It’s what I do. Regardless of whether I like what I’m reading or not.
In a small way, I feel like if I don’t like something, I need to be able to say exactly why I don’t like that particular something. I can’t stand having discussions with people about books who haven’t even read the book they’re discussing, especially when such people so adamantly dislike the book. Well, why do you dislike the book? If you didn’t read it, how can you possibly know whether or not the book is any good. The typical response is, “Well, I read the first chapter and hated it, so I just quit reading it” or I hear, “Well, so-and-so told me it isn’t a good book, so I just never read it.”
Politically, don’t tell me which candidate I should vote for unless you have REAL knowledge–truth–about the candidates. Don’t spout off information you learned from Grandpa or Uncle Joe or from something you read on the internet.
Parents love hearing from someone who has 0 children how to raise their kids. Yeah. Right. That goes over real well. Not.
Or movies….I know hundreds of people who love movies like Talladega Nights and I honestly and truly can’t stand it.
But that is the beauty of the world we live in. It’s why there are hundreds of thousands of books, movies, tv shows, and a variety of political parties, and even a hundred different churches in a 10-mile square radius. And the list goes on.
We don’t all like the same thing. What you like, I might not like. What I like, you might not like. Look at the number of editors who rejected the Harry Potter series as an example of what I mean!!!!
You will never know, though, whether or not you like something for yourself unless you read it (watch it, learn about it, study it, etc.) yourself. I love it when someone tells me about a book he/she read that he/she just loved. I love the person’s enthusiasm. I’ve gotten excited enough because someone else was excited about a book that I’ve bought the book and started reading it within an hour of talking to the person who recommended the book!
I haven’t always liked the book as the first person did, and the people who read books I recommend don’t always like the books I recommend. But it is so much fun sharing what we enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about a story and being able to discuss the book intelligently rather than because one of us “heard about” the book or read the SparkNotes.
Critical thinking, at its heart, is being able to take in information, read, ruminate on it, research as needed, discuss with others, maybe even write about it, and come to a clear, logical, intellectual conclusion. When we haven’t done the necessary research, reading, etc., we can’t possibly formulate a logical or intellectual conclusion, especially not one that is our own.
So I have gone all the way around my arm to get to my elbow to say this: I read books all the way through to the ending even if I don’t like them.
What about you????