30 Books For My 30th – Number 5

30booksformy30th, 30th birthday

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dscn7086Dear Hard Times,

You can’t like every book. It’s a fact of life I’m afraid. The fact that I really hate you shouldn’t be a bad thing. To use an old cliche, it’s not you, it’s me. Except that it’s totally not me. It’s you. Although, it probably has something to do with my old English teacher too. It’s unfortunate for you that I was forced to study you at the age of 17 with the only teacher I have ever disliked. So, maybe, it’s him? It certainly makes a difference. If you’re taught a book badly then how can you ever like that book? It was all pretty unfortunate that in my final year of school I was moved into a different set and taken away from my favourite teachers. I didn’t like his style and he didn’t like mine. It was never going to end well.

Although, to be honest, it was always going to be difficult for us to get along. I don’t have a great track record with Charles Dickens. I’ve never understood his reputation as one of Britain’s greatest writers. I get that he has some value in terms of his social and economic commentary. But, really, it’s all a bit much. For years I’ve heard people rave about the hilarity behind his names. Really? Yeah, okay, there’s some word play there but meh. Loads of people have written funny names and not gone down in history. He’s so long and cumbersome. We all know that he was paid by the word because he’s so fucking obvious about it. So much unnecessary description. He puts Ann Radcliffe to shame.

I made it through Great Expectations without wanting to kill myself but I had a great teacher. I really like A Christmas Carol but that could have something to do with The Muppet Christmas Carol. You, Hard Times, were too much. Considering you’re the shortest of Dickens’ novels that is really saying something. You’re stuffed to breaking point with characters and plot lines. I could barely remember what was going on at the time let alone years later.

You’re also super preachy and negative. I realise that’s the point but sometimes you don’t want to be around such pessimistic people. You’re like those vegans who decide that, as well as changing their lives for the cause, they have to try to force their opinions on everyone they meet. Religious people who can’t accept that not everyone is willing to accept some sort of higher power into their lives. I don’t have room for people like that.

I respect your message, Hard Times. You were intended to show people the awful conditions some industrial workers faced. The problem is, you’re far too cynical. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. You aren’t the best novel Dickens has ever written and you definitely aren’t his most loved. You are so focused on the task at hand that you simplify everything and take things too far. Eventually, things become so pessimistic and sullen that you can’t see anything beyond it.

You’ve haunted me for 13 years. I’ve honestly never recovered from reading you. I’ve read books I didn’t like before but my short relationship with you was dreadful. It was toxic. I had such a ‘hard time’ reading you and had such a terrible time studying you. We’re incompatible. Different people. You can’t like everyone and you can’t like every book. You’ll sit languishing on my shelf. You can talk shit about me to your friends and I’ll talk shit about you to mine. I don’t need you in my life. I’m all about the fun.
People must be amuthed,



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