the strange love affair between Waterstones and Amazon, I got thinking about my own unlikely crushes. No, not of the human variety (and my husband is not so very strange when you get to know him), but books.
There are a few books I thought I'd never like. There was a good reason for it: I'd tried them and it just wasn't happening for us. While some books swept me off my feet with the literary equivalent of roses and chocolate, these books had me faking food poisoning and leaving the restaurant by the back door. Two books that came in the latter category for me are 1984 by George Orwell, and Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons.
I tried to read 1984 when I was about 14 years-old and I found it too hard. I didn't understand what was going on in this dystopia. Who was Big Brother? Why was everybody agreeing with something that wasn't true? I got less than halfway through it before giving up. It was the same with Cold Comfort Farm. I was in my late teens this time and I didn't get it. It annoyed me when patronising people said things like, "You do know it's meant to be funny, right?", as if I might have thought that it was serious, rather than a pastiche. Yes, I knew it was meant to be funny. No, I didn't find it funny. No, I didn't finish it.
But unlike a date who spends the first half hour of dinner talking about himself and trying to squeeze your knee under the tablecloth, I gave these books a second-chance. I tried 1984 again only about a year after abandoning it (and, appropriately enough for this post, because a boy that I had a bit of a crush on said it was his favourite book) and this time I loved it. It remained one of my very favourite novels long after the boy had lost his charm for me.
Cold Comfort Farm I only tried again earlier this year. I was sure I'd hate it, but as it's on the BBC Top 100 list - which I'm trying to read all of - I had to give it another go. Again, it's now one of my favourite books. I found it very funny this time, and couldn't put it down. So it just goes to show, sometimes giving a book a second chance is a good idea.
With this in mind, I think I might read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald again soon. I hated it, but so many people I know love it. Perhaps I was just too young. One book I shan't be trying again however, is On The Road by Jack Kerouac. Sometimes you dislike a book so much, life is too short to reply to its pleading text messages asking for a second date.
Are there any books that you fell in love with second-time around? Or are there classics that you wouldn't even give the time of day if you saw them in the street?
I wanted to extend this post into a discussion of the weird crushes we might have on fictional characters. But I can't think of any. My fictional crush is Mr. Knightley from Emma. But that's not weird. That's almost obligatory. But don't let me stop you... Do you fancy Snape? Would you meet Frankenstein's monster for a cocktail after work? Do you hanker after Miss Havisham? Or is your fictional crush boringly mainstream like mine?