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?