Why I Sometimes Read Books I Think I Won’t Like

Posted September 27, 2013 by Stormy in Books / 24 Comments

wont like

It’s a question I hear often: “Why do you read a book if you think you won’t like it?”

Or perhaps the even more to-the-point version of “Why do you read a book if you KNOW you won’t like it?”

These questions are often meant to be rhetorical, as for many people who ask these questions there seem to be only one of two answers, “I wouldn’t”, or “I enjoy ripping books apart”(which is not my opinion, by the way, but I have seen it expressed). There seems to be this idea that one should only read books they think they should like. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s a valid approach to reading. If YOU want to only read books you think you’ll like, then please, go ahead and read those books! Tell us about them! Have fun reading.

But I don’t only read books I think I will like, and I never have. That’s never been my approach to reading, and it makes the way I read no less valid. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post this or not, since in blogging promises to myself, I said that I wouldn’t feel the need to justify my reading habits to anyone.  However, while on one hand I do feel I’m justifying my reading habits to the world at large, I also thought it would make an interesting discussion post.

So, before I talk some more about why I read books I think I won’t like, let me just say this is all about my approach to reading. I think every approach to reading is equally valid and don’t want to be dismissive of anyone’s reading philosophy, so just keep in mind this is a personal approach. While I do highly encourage people to read books they don’t think they will like, I would never try to FORCE this idea on them. So, on we go.

I Read Books I Think I Won’t Like Because. . .

1. I want to be proven wrong.

There’s a big difference between THINKING I won’t like a book, and KNOWING I won’t like a book. Frankly, with a few exceptions, I have no way of KNOWING what my final opinion would be of a book before reading. That what reading is for! Every time I read a book I think I won’t like, I’m hoping to be prove wrong. I go in with an open, if suspicious, mind, and I’m all about trying to see what would happen. For example, I didn’t think I would like the Unearthly series, but I did. I DID think I would like Under the Never Sky, and I didn’t. I think I’m generally pretty good about knowing what types of books I like, after being a life-long reader, but there will always be surprises, and I’m not ready to write certain books off just because I think I won’t like them.

2. I don’t read ONLY for enjoyment.

I know this might be a weird one in the book blogging world, but it’s true. I know most other readers I know read primarily for enjoyment, and I do too, but I don’t read ONLY for enjoyment. I was an English major, ya’ll. Analyzing literature and discussing the canon of English literature as a whole makes me curious about the trends I see in modern literature(and yes, this includes YA). There are some books I read to be more knowledgeable of the vast array of literature, especially books that are extremely familiar in either literary discussion or just in pop culture, even if I think I won’t like them. I read a good 85% of the time for enjoyment, but there’s 15% that I read more for knowledge and information and analysis(this isn’t exclusive to books I think I won’t like, since I do it with books I think I’ll like too, but it’s definitely an important consideration for me).

3. I have a staunch Don’t-have-a-negative-opinion-before-reading policy.

I’ve seen people dislike some of my favorite books without reading them, and it’s never fun to witness. If I’m going to dislike a book to the point I actually talk about it, I want to have read said book. And you know what? A lot of times, these books prove me wrong. I find this happens a little more in non-fiction than fiction, but it DOES happen in YA sometimes too.

These are my TOP reasons I sometimes read books I think I won’t like. It’s not something I do often–because I DO want to spend the majority of time reading books I think I will like–but it is a part of my reading habit. I WANT to like every book, but clearly that’s never going to happen.

So, in the spirit of open dialogue, I’d love to hear your take on this subject! Do you sometimes pick up books you think you won’t like?

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24 responses to “Why I Sometimes Read Books I Think I Won’t Like

  1. Book Bloggery Week-in-Review (28)

    […] Stormy discussed why she sometimes reads books she thinks she won’t like. […]

  2. Great post, Stormy! I have to say, I do tend to choose books that I think I will like, but I’m not super strict on that. It’s one reason I joined a book club: to broaden my horizons and give some books a chance that I might not otherwise choose to read.

  3. This is a great post. I try to push my boundaries sometimes too with book club books, but there is only so much time to read and so many great books that it is hard to force myself to read a book I don’t think I’ll like or especially if I know I won’t like it.

    • stormydawnc

      Yeah, I don’t tend to do this very often–probably about 1% of books I read fall into this category–but I do hear the line a lot “Why read a book you won’t like?” & it’s always kind of made me question. But for the most part, I do read for enjoyment.

  4. Bookish Recap: September 22nd – 28th | A Bookish Heart

    […] Reading Books You Don’t Like – Christine @ Oh, Chrys discusses why she continues to read books she doesn’t like much. – Stormy @ Book.Blog.Bake. explains why she sometimes reads books she thinks she won’t like. […]

  5. I think I usually try to read something that even if I don’t love it, I’ll still be interested in it. I don’t mind reading for knowledge, but I can’t read something if it will just be completely unenjoyable for me. It would feel too much like work. I do try to read a lot of different types and to be open to different subjects, because I have been surprised by things before. It’s difficult to tell, though! Maybe I should be way more objective and try something that sounds painful, haha. Great, thought-provoking post!

    • stormydawnc

      Sometimes reading does feel like work to me, for sure, even though I’d say 90% of the time I read purely for enjoyment.

  6. I love the idea for this post! I feel pretty much exactly the same way as you…and, hey, I was an English major, too! I definitely feel that part of reading should be educational, and I do try to challenge myself with different genres/things I’m not sure I would like. But I do spend plenty of time reading things just for pure pleasure.

    • stormydawnc

      Yup, I try to split it up! Especially since I get to have pretty much free control over my reading now. I like reading mostly for enjoyment, but at times I definitely do like to expand my horizons.

  7. This is an interesting topic. After thinking about it, I typically read for fun, because I have to read so much non-fun books for grad school. However, I am in a book club, and I read that book no matter whether I think I am going to like it or not. I have definitely been found to like something I didn’t think I would like and vice versa.

    • stormydawnc

      Oh yeah, if I was in school, I probably would read only books I was pretty sure I’d like. Fun books are just such a nice break between required reading!

  8. Ooooh cool topic 😀 I’ve never actually given much thought to the criteria I use when buying books– but now that I think about it, it does seem as if I’ve only picked up and bought books I believe are worth the time. This probably has something to do with my strict ‘get your money’s worth’ policy. It’s a common lease on life, but I do it subconsciously. I pick up books I believe I will enjoy, and thankfully, I do most of the time. I’ve come close to DNFing a book, but I haven’t, so I’m quite proud of that XD I do review all of the books I read on the blog, but I read foremost for pure enjoyment. I don’t want to take a critical standpoint when it comes to a hobby 🙂 So yeah! Great post here 😀

    • stormydawnc

      Oh yeah, I’m big on getting my money’s worth too. I wouldn’t buy a book I didn’t think I’d like–books I’m not sure I’ll like are definitely library books. Ooh, so interesting you haven’t DNF a book! There are a few I have DNF, though I’m not a frequent DNF just because I’m stubborn.

  9. This is a really interesting topic that I haven’t ever really thought about. I wish I could say that I practiced this principle more often, but you have encouraged me to give more of the books that I’m not sure I will like a try. Thanks

    • stormydawnc

      Thank you! I think I’ve just been thinking about it recently because it’s a discussion I’ve been hearing a lot about lately.

  10. Great post!! Sometimes I decide I won’t read a certain book from all the hype and will wait for all reviews and opinions to cool so I can decide for myself!! I would have to say with the books I challenge myself to read, because I didn’t think I would like them, about half have been favorites. Sometimes you have to stretch to find a 5 Star review.

    • stormydawnc

      I agree! And there have been some books I really thought I wouldn’t like that I ended up LOVING. I’m typically pretty good about picking out books I’ll like, but it’s impossible to know before hand, and sometimes books surprise me!

  11. What an interesting topic! I don’t really think much when I pick up a book. I don’t think ‘I’m going to read this book because I know I will love it’

    I want to read them, because I like the sound of the blurb, or because I’ve seen many good reviews. Sometimes I even like to try them when I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews, just because I want to see all the fuss :p

    • stormydawnc

      Yeah, I think a lot of it is that last point you made–I just want to see what all the fuss is about and I like to be able to talk about books in-depth.

  12. Saaame Stormy. Sometimes I do that too and it might be weird because I read books I think I might dislike because I’m just curious and if I will dislike the book I want to tell people why. That’s also a reason why I never DNF books.

    • stormydawnc

      I do sometimes DNF(though rarely), but mainly I’m just CURIOUS, haha. Must reads ALLLLL kind of books!

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