Cup of Tea

There are some books I like that are not good. For instance, Rich Men, Single Women. This is not, by almost any measure, a good book. And yet, I am there for its sordid charms.

The thing that is harder for me to grapple with is the (equally large?) number of books that I don't like that are good. Case in point:


I might as well get out of the way my first (and probably lamest) complaint: The cover. Come on now! Only put a tornado on the cover if you have a tornado in the book. Tornados are terrifying and fascinating, and I am a sucker for them, so don't just tease me.

Beyond that, this book more or less endlessly pissed me off with its intelligent, thoughtful, deeply considered prose. I'd read and fume, read and grumble: Oh come on, no one is this committed to conversation. Or, Not everything has to be endlessly considered! Except then something would shift to address my concern, and I would be left with the same irritable sense until it dawned on me: I do believe this book is not my cup of tea.

I love this idea. But—is it even a thing? Really? I fear saying that is much like, "Well, it was very well done" type of remarks: saying basically that you didn't like it but don't want to own up to it. And anyway (full, damning disclosure): I don't even like tea.

I suspect that in my heart I don't really think this is a good book at all, I'm just loathe to disagree with the world when I can see perfectly well that the world will definitely think this is a very good book.

But—do I really believe that my not liking something means it's not good? That can't be true, can it? Ugh, I am sure there was a class at some point when I should have been paying attention and I would have learned the true answers to all these questions. At any rate: I didn't like this book, I can say that for sure, and even admit that this decision felt almost personal and grudge-filled. I found the book chilly and stiff, prone to examining its motives to a tiring degree, though there were moments of tension and interest. Is the fault in me or in the book? Apparently, I have no idea.


4 thoughts on “Cup of Tea

  1. I like tea. But I also absolutely think that we must own what tastes bad to us. I would actually have liked to hear more about what didn’t suit you in this book. Because I often lose my way about taste and think …. “But I don’t like it…. am I uncouth/an idiot/just not that smart?”
    I had a friend who went to the same exclusive women’s college as me. She got invited to some get together that a woman there had, and was served Earl Grey. My friend took a sip and thought, “This is so sad! What terrible taste this woman has!” In contrast, I would have found myself lacking for not liking it. Which is part of why I had to transfer to a public college where people were normal.
    There’s a moral in there somewhere….


  2. There is definitely a moral, and I am glad you went to a public college, where you were happier.
    And never fear, I will tell you FAR more about what bothered me in an upcoming post, Novels by Poets, which is fulminating in the back of my mind.


  3. I read about 4 chapters of this book, looked at the massive pile TBR with amazing women authors coming way …and returned it to the library. Nope. Not for me. Too many other great books or ones that would grab me. This did not. I picked up Mrs. Everything by Jenifer Weiner right afterward and could not put it down. Then Frankly in Love by David Yoon and same situation. If the book is begging me to keep going, I will. Topeka School did not.


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