Taking a page from Stephen Baldwin's and the Misspent One's respective lists of their five favorite books, and Enoch Soames's list of his ten favorite fictional novels, but preferring as always to see the glass as half empty, and not wanting to add anything to your already burdensome to-be-read pile, I've been thinking of books I should've liked but didn't.
At the time I purchased each of these books, I did so for the right reasons -- great reviews, sound recommendations, was enjoying other books by the author, was systemmatically and obsessively reading every book published in that genre, etc. I really wanted to like each of these books, so after my first attempt to get into them failed, I tried, tried, tried again. Despite these efforts, they sit today on my shelves gathering dust, their bookmarks stuck near the beginning with no chance of ever moving any deeper inside.
I'm forecasting a busy work week and I'd like to figure out exactly how long I can get away with stringing out one flimsy idea in this blog, so each day this week I'll discuss one of the five Books I Should've Liked But Didn't, in alphabetical order by author.
First up, Mr. Robert A. Heinlein:
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein. As all scrawny pimply-faced teenage nerds without any hope of female companionship must, I spent my high school years devouring science fiction. Although I read widely, I was particularly drawn to the Old School: Asimov, Bester, Bradbury, Clarke, Dick, Ellison, Farmer. Heinlein should've come next in this progression, but I couldn't get into his books, no matter how hard I tried.
Stranger, in particular, seems to have been written just for me. How could I not like a book whose cover showed two naked women in a hot tub with the main character? How could my money grubbing heart not identify with a main character who controlled a vast financial empire? How could I not be keenly interested in a book with a plot line -- the formation of a new religion -- that matched my own life's ambition?
The answer is, I don't know. At the time I happily accepted failings in other sci-fi writers that for some reason I could never accept with Heinlein. Maybe his rep in the sci-fi world was so sterling that I couldn't cut him any slack. Also, to be honest, part of me likes to feel like I'm discovering something for myself, not just jumping on the bandwagon, and in my circle of geeks, Heinlein's was by far the biggest bandwagon. In any event, my sci-fi phase passed long ago, so I'll never get to the bottom of this mystery.
Looking back over this piece, I realize that, not having ever made it more than 20 pages into a Heinlein book, and not having picked one up in 20 years, I truly have no idea why I didn't like Heinlein, so all I've really said is I didn't like him because, for some reason, I didn't.
Stay tuned tomorrow for another insightful review of another Book I Should've Liked But Didn't!