What I’ve (re)learned through reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s most recent novel, The Signature of All Things: it’s OK to not like a book, especially a book everyone else seems to like.
This has happened dozens of time, most notably when I cried on about how stupid I thought Catcher in the Rye was until I reread it nearly ten years later and promptly decided that I loved it. That experience was actually transformative. But, there was a long time when I despised that much-loved and immediately canonized novel and everyone acted really grumpy about my thoughts on the book. It was just, like, my opinion, man.
Opinions change, however, and I eventually wholeheartedly came around to enjoying and appreciating The Catcher in the Rye, which is a great thing for me now. But, there’s no shame in not liking a book. Similarly there should be no shame in not really liking The Signature of All Things, despite all my best intentions of wanting to like it, not to mention its overwhelming critical success.
I suppose I was underwhelmed by what transpired during the well-over 500 pages of Alma Whittaker’s life and I just always wanted something more, something deeper. Though the book covers the entirety of Alma’s life I still never felt true empathy or sympathy for her and was more often than not bewildered by some of her choices and thoughts. I never fully identified with her and lacking that prevented me from becoming invested in the novel.
Does this ever happen to you? Does it affect your reading of the novel? How do you get over it? I’m curious to hear from anyone who has read the book. How did you feel about Alma and the curious trajectory that was her life?
On another note, I’m trying to get my books for our honeymoon organized. I want to bring, like, seven but I know that’s absurd because I anticipate that Adam is going to want to spend some time together on this vacation. What we should do is pick three and them swap books with one another. It makes the most sense not only for our marriage but also for packing purposes. Until then, I’m furiously trying to finish this book before I interview the author on Thursday for an article I’m writing. I feel like I’m in grad school again!