Thursday, 9 September 2010

Reading against type - Liu vs Palahniuk

I don't remember what it was that got me thinking about it but a couple of weeks ago I started thinking about the kinds of books I read. It was probably staring at the shelves and shelves of donated books at my work's small 'library' that I have taken over. We've got a pretty sizeable collection - about 900 books - from all genres, particularly the mystery/suspense/thriller category. You know the type, airport books that you buy, enjoy and generally never read again.

I've said it before, and I will say it again: there are far too many books in this world for me to waste my time on things I don't want to read... but. On the one hand it is true. I have absolutely desire to read another Dan Brown book in my entire life. But what about books that I just don't consider my type? What if I'm really missing out? So I decided to branch out. To Choke by Chuck Palahniuk.

So far I have knocked off 130 pages of the 293 in the book. And I am struggling. To be fair, this is a well written book and it covers some interesting ideas and themes but WOW it is so not my style. To say I find it confronting would be an understatement, there are times it makes me squirmingly  uncomfortable. Which is totally the point of the narrative but I don't like feeling this way. I've realised that I read to escape into another world and even if it's a harsh world, the worlds I escape into never feel like a bad fever nightmare that contain sentences that make me feel physically sick.

To all you Palahniuk fans out there, please don't take this as an attack on your favourite author. It's absolutely not. It's just that he isn't my cup of tea. That said, I do plan on seeing this one through to the end because as much as I'm not enjoying the way the book makes me feel, it kind of has me hooked and I want to know how it all pans out.

So have any of you read against your usual type lately? Do you even have a type of book you read? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one!


  1. Hey, welcome back! Nice surprise seeing you pop back up on my Reader this morning.

    I've never read Palahnuik, but I've heard similar things to what you say: He takes pride in making you uncomfortable. And if the atrocious movie version of Choke is any indication of the quality of the novel, I'm taking a big fat pass... ;)

  2. I haven't read Palahniuk either, though Fight Club is on my TBR. It sounds like I may only be able to stomach one of his books. I'm intrigued enough to try, anyway.

    I guess my "reading against type" would lean towards boring books that make me learn things. You know the type--the ones you don't really want to read, but you force yourself to read anyway.

  3. Hey Greg! I know it's been a long time - but I'm back and at it. It's a strange thing but even after being out of school for years I still seem to operate on academic year time!

    I'll post a total review of Choke when I'm done. I loved Fight Club (movie) so that's why I'm in the situation I am now. Ah well. Life is all about challenges!

    Kathy - Would love to hear what you thought of Fight Club when you're done! Haha love your version of reading against type. Sadly that kind of book is my bread and butter right now as I'm in the throes of thesis work. Most of it isn't too bad but real intense literary theory can get a bit.... zzzzzzz.