Un-Popular Opinion Time

So I've been thinking. As much as I talk about books that I like here, I also want to talk about books I don't like. I was sort of thinking that, though I'm an advocate for not banning books, there are certainly some popular books I wouldn't mind if no one ever read - that way I wouldn't have to hear about them anymore. I have the idea in my head that the people who love the books that I hate and hate the books that I love are the same people. So today I decided to spill my guts out and talk about the books that I HATE. This doesn't mean I think you're wrong if they're your favorites, because even though I'm an ass I don't think I'm that big of an ass. I just happen to think that some well-loved books ain't all that. So without Further ado...

Nancy Tillman's series of ugly, mushy, badly photo-shopped children's books, starting with "On the Night You Were Born." I know this is a popular choice among the clueless for baby-showers and junk, but this is really a picture book for Mom's and Grandma's before it is for children. I've heard that some people think it's "pretty," but all I see is saturated photos with a dingy photoshop filter thrown over it. If that wasn't bad enough, the story can't even redeem it. It's just as disgusting and sentimental as you'd fear. As parents, please don't subject your children to this junk, unless you want to kill your child's interest in reading as early as possible.

Next is, yes, Goodnight Moon. I know many people have fond memories of this book. It is, after all, a classic. But not everyone has to like the classics. I remember - even as a kid - thinking that this book was nonsense and aggravating. Maybe I thought it was too simple, but I harbored no warm feelings for it. I've since made my peace with it, and as a matter of fact Margaret Wise Brown's other bunny book, Runaway Bunny, continues to be one of my all time favorite children's books. (I've even considered getting a Runaway Bunny tattoo, 'cept I'm a bit of a coward)

I knew this post wasn't going to make me popular, because this is one of my all time least favorite books, and it's dearly well loved by many people. Why did I hate The Outsiders? Part of it had to do with it's popularity, actually, and I'm a total book snob (or else I wouldn't be writing this post). In high school, we read it as an English assignment, and while the entire class enjoyed it (any small town high school English teacher would be encouraged by that feat). I was unimpressed and failed to see what made it so special, and that kind of pissed me off. I could have suggested an entire list of better books we should have read instead, I felt, and I probably could have. I had a real knack for pairing the right person with the right book.
Maybe I should have been a high school English teacher after all.

Will I hold nothing back? Is Nothing Sacred? Now, why didn't I like A Wrinkle in Time? It's up there with The Outsiders, for me, as highly recommended by Sage Adults that turned out to be a crashing disappointment. I remember reading it and feeling like the book it's self was just too pretentious - like the author wanted me to feel stupid, even for a child. It seriously made me doubt my own intellect, until I got older and tried to re-read the series and I realized that I wasn't crazy after all. This really is the sort of soaring bore of a book adults would try to shove into children's faces, forgetting that their tastes may not be the same. This doesn't mean that the world of children's books is so small, however, that they can't find something on their own that is more to their interests.

Another SUPER pretentious book? How about Philip Pullman's Dark Material's trilogy? This time, it is personal. Not only was it pretentious, but it wasn't even accidental. Pullman set out to write an anti-children children's book - a denouncement on C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, for being too sentimental about childhood and for using Christian allegory. Pullman, of course, is an Atheist. As a Catholic, that does grate on my nerves. It seems awfully shitty of him to take such liberties on children, and yes, it's very arrogant and pretentious. I think he sucks a whole ton for writing "Atheist propaganda" for children, but what I hate him even more for is that he's using these books as a platform to belittle children's intellect. A child will decide on their own wither or not Christianity is for them, as they will certainly find out that adulthood can be either awesome or awful with time. But children don't need his nihilism hammered into their skulls, really.
Other than that, this is a really strong, well written series. I remember when it was handed to me in high school, it came with a warning that I had to be mature enough to read it. I'm certain I was, but I'm grateful I at least had the warning first. (In fact, as an High School English teacher, be sure that this would be on the reading list. It is a good test of maturity.)

So... that felt good to get off of my chest. You may not agree with my assessments, and I have a feeling this is going to be controversial. I didn't go after the books that are popular to hate, after all. Disagree with me? Agree? Leave me a comment and we can talk about it.

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