Disappointment by the Book

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Cat Book Reviewer

Another damned thick book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh, Mr. Gibbon?

Prince William upon being presented by Gibbon with a copy of a volume in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire



My co-blogger Darwin Catholic has an intriguing post on the subject of books that a reader is supposed to like but didn’t.  Go here to read his post.  My response:

Piers the Plowman-Never have been able to make my way through that boring field.

Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories-I attempted to read them when young but got stuck in A Study in Scarlet.  The odd thing is that I love Holmes as a character in film and in books written by other  authors which feature Holmes.

Stranger in a Strange Land-I have read everything Heinlein wrote and I was saddened to read the story that began his “dirty old pervert” phase.

Douglas Southall Freeman’s Lee’s Lieutenants-I made it through all three volumes on the third attempt.  Freeman’s erudition is vast and his scholarship impeccable, but he managed a near impossible feat:  he made the Civil War seem dull to me.

Utopia-Perhaps it reads better in the Latin.

Kipling novels-I adore Kipling the poet.  Kipling the novelist leaves me colder than a dead mackerel.

Paul Johnson’s America-I loved Johnson the British historian.  I found this volume pedestrian and error filled.  It is always a mistake to read a favorite historian when he writes a volume on a subject where your knowledge is evidently superior.

Burke’s essays and monographs-I love Burke’s speeches and quote them frequently.  I can never make my way through his other writings with the splendid exception of his immortal Reflections on the Revolution in France.

Join in.  What books did you think you would like that disappointed you?


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  1. The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and Master and Man, both by Tolstoy. After his conversion to his idealistic religion, he lost the ability to write flesh-and-blood characters. They became universal concepts rather than people.

    Edgar Allen Poe’s prose is hit-and-miss for me. It doesn’t help that he sometimes lapses into languages I don’t understand. Even his poetry can disappoint. At times, he’s the best poet in the English language. At times, he’s a goth teenager.

    And at the risk of offending people: The Soul of the Apostolate. An important spiritual book that has, I hope, influenced my thinking. But it has 1 (one) point, and reiterates it for the first 100 pages. I didn’t make it further than that.

  2. Lord. of. the. Rings.

    Some of the material in the ISI catalogue (which I collared from the library rather than buying from them): Bernard Iddings Bell’s Crowd Culture and Christopher Dawson’s Dynamics of World History. Peter Viereck’s Conservatism Revisited was another disappointment.

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