Book #59: The Scarlet Letter

I have to read The Scarlet Letter now? I said to myself.

Well, shit.

To be honest, friends, there are a couple books on this list that I’m worried will derail this project. I have a feeling I’ll get to them and just be like, “NOPE. Fuck this.”

This was one of them.

Back in, like, 9th grade, I got it into my head that I needed to read “real” books in the summer. You know, the “classics.” I had this awesome goal that I was going to be “well-read” and “cultured” when I went back for my sophomore year, so I tracked down the College-Bound Reading List and decided I was going to read every book on the list.

(Sound familiar? I guess I was a sucker for reading lists even as a teenager)

My grand plan to come back as the best-read student ever to hit the halls of my high school was quickly derailed, though. I started with The Scarlet Letter. And man, did it suck. Like…I’d hated books before, and I’ve hated books since, but nothing went as deep as this visceral hatred of The Scarlet Letter and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

I think I was 15 when I read the book, and I’ve spent the past eight years harboring this violent, extreme dislike of The Scarlet Letter.

But not anymore.

I started reading it with the idea that I was going to read as fast as possible, so the pain would be over sooner. And then I started to kind of like it. It was weird.

Hester wasn’t as awful as I originally thought. The writing wasn’t as dry or tedious as I thought. I didn’t find myself filled with my own scarlet rage as I wanted to set fire to the book or myself. The last time I read The Scarlet Letter, it genuinely made me want to hurt people. But this time it was tolerable. I even kind of enjoyed it, in a way.

Sure, I’m still astounded at how Nathaniel Hawthorne managed to take what should have been an interesting, intrigue-filled, soap-opera-y story and turn it into a dry, preachy, nothingness, but at least I didn’t want to throw things or vomit or strangle somebody.

That was a pleasant surprise. I’m not quite in the Nathaniel Hawthrone fan club yet, but I’m no longer a part of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Haters club. So that’s something.

I’m wondering – have you ever read a book that you absolutely hated? What was it? Would you ever read it again?

Rating: ***
Up Next: Billy Bathgate


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by arta on July 24, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I’ve hated two books: Beloved and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I refuse to reread either one.


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