Posted by: Jeanie F | June 6, 2014

Do You Ever Disagree With the Whole World About a Book?

I am in a quandary. My book club is reading a book this month that is wildly popular and famous – weeks and weeks on the NYT best seller list, nominated for – and winning many – prestigious awards, seemingly uniformly loved, but I just do not like it.

The book is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Stephen King loved it. Ron Charles loved it. As of today, 4,134 readers on gave it five stars. I know they can’t all be wrong, but I’ve read 6% of the book (that’s right, it’s on my Kindle), I’m in the middle of what I assume is the grand inciting incident, and I’m opting to play Solitaire on my iPad rather than pick up the book and read. I need to finish the remaining 94% before June 18 when my book club meets.

If you can give me any good reasons why I’m wrong to think this is a wordy, overblown snoozefest, please let me know. Give me hope that at some point Tartt is able to write a sentence that’s shorter than 56 words long like this one:

Usually she was home just when she said she’d be, so if she was ten minutes late I began to fret; any later, and I sat on the floor by the front door of the apartment like a puppy left alone too long, straining to hear the rumble of the elevator coming up to our floor.

(The sentence that proceeds this one is at least three times as long. If Tartt simply told her story the book would be a third its current length. Do you think she was hoping to sell it by the pound?)

If, like me, you have ever found yourself swimming against the tide in your assessment of a very popular book, I’d love to hear about that, too.


  1. How did she get that past an editor? I see that book everywhere!!! Glad I didn’t take the bait.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • I’ve been wondering the same thing. I actually think there may be a good story in there somewhere and, since it a book club book, I plan to keep going. I promise to let you know if I revise my opinion.

  2. I got through the whole thing which was a huge surprise to me! The book wasn’t bad but I really thibj the back starts at about page 400 and still there are too many words. Blah blah blah. It was good, sometimes I cared, sometimes I didn’t and I’m glad it’s over! Now I’m stuck with no book. You are such a good reader! I don’t know why people loved it so much. My entire book group felt as I did.

    • Page 400? Well, that gives me hope that at some point I’ll be interested!

  3. I’m currently reading The Goldfinch and I’m enjoying it; however, I’m not finding it great as many are reporting. Your situation reminds me when I read The Di Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Everyone loved it but I found it poorly written. I guess books strike people differently.

    • I didn’t like The DaVinci Code either. I agree that the writing was bad, and I couldn’t understand why people liked it so much!

  4. I had trouble with this book too — in the end I felt it was worth it, but the middle (and you’re not even close yet) needed a LOT of editing. I was very into it in the beginning, so I’m surprised you’re bored already. Two books I was the only one who hated: Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld and The Passage by Justin Cronin. Oh, and the Guernsey Potato Peel Society or whatever that book was called.

    • I liked the part when they were in the museum looking at the paintings. In fact, I kept my iPad next to me so I could look them up online. I usually like books with a very literary style, but something about Tartt’s writing (I also didn’t care for The Secret History – another huge hit) just doesn’t work for me.

      • Personally, I liked The Secret History better than The goldfinch. Probably because of the mystery involved.

  5. I haven’t read it yet but I just love this post! If a book hasn’t caught my attention after about 100 pages then it’s usually lost to me. Plus I hate it when I’m told to stick with a book because it picks up in the middle!!

    • I have the same 100 page rule unless it’s a book club book. I feel like I have a responsibility to the group to read (or at least skim šŸ˜‰) it all. May have to do a lot of skimming on this one.

  6. While we don’t always agree on books, this is a pretty clear indication that I should take a pass on this one. I had a professor once who described commas and semicolons as “ants” at a picnic. More ants equals less enjoyment. (BTW Janice says good call on We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves!)

  7. I’m currently reading on a reward plan. Twenty minutes of GF earns an hour reading something else. So far it’s working for me. šŸ˜Š

  8. Your “reward plan” is funny – might I suggest the something else? A gelato (I’m still mentally in Italy) or piece of chocolate – or maybe a nap? I bought this book in hardback (crazy, I know) because I wanted to take forever to read it while I was reading all those library books that had to be returned. I did like it, but – I agree it could have been a whole lot shorter and not have lost anything in translation. If you are stuck now, the middle will do you in. I skimmed over a lot of the raunchy and drug-infested descriptions – they were not necessary to the plot, so why bother. I agree – it probably could never live up to all the hype, and The Art Forger was shorter and more fun. But lots to talk about in a book group – as long as you take notes. I’ve forgotten it all already.

    • Oh, gelato is a MUCH better plan! Rosemary, I like the way you think!

  9. It’s a very quick read but I felt it was more like a Dan Brown novel than serious literature. I was shocked, SHOCKED, it won the Pulitzer.

    • I couldn’t agree more!!!

  10. I read “The Goldfinch” a week after I finished “The Little Friend” and because I was so in love with the character of Harriet I was desperate for more. Foolish, foolish move! I really didn’t like Theo AT ALL. I barely remember most of the book and because of all the raves I wonder if maybe I was wrong, maybe I should re-read it but then I figure, I’ve got a never decreasing pile of books I want to read so why bother. Glad I found this post though, cause I wasn’t game enough to tell anyone I didn’t really like it.

    • Maybe we should start a support group for people afraid to admit they didn’t like The Goldfinch! šŸ˜Š

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