19 comments on “Skill vs. Enjoyment

  1. It is a tricky book to place. I think partly because it’s so different. Very unnerving and it completely sucked me into the dillusion! I always rate on enjoyment or if not that, whether they stay with me after I’ve read them. I always try to be fair and not pass out too many 1 and 2 star reviews! Although there’s always the temptation the rage against some novels! 3 for me is okay, 4 is brilliant but needs work, 5 is go out and buy this immediately!

    • I totally agree. I think part of why I felt a bit stumped with rating Lolita at first is because it’s so unnerving that you almost don’t know how you feel when you’re reading it. I finished it about a week ago and yet I’ve still thought about it every day since; I think that speaks for itself.

      I rate things in a very similar way. Since it’s the lowest you can give, a book would have to be offensive or pretty much unreadable for me to give it 1 star. I’m with you on trying to be fair as well; even if I don’t particularly like a book, I still try to find its merits or see why it may appeal to the right audience.

      Thanks for your input! 🙂

  2. A tricky compromise.
    Ultimately go with enjoyment.
    I have read books I know are technically superb but it doesnt matter. That isnt always married to a gripping tale. What really counts is enjoyment, not literary merit. Which is why a lot of prize winners are read by people who think wtf…how did this win anything?
    A good tale trumps beautiful but soulless prose for mw.

    • I definitely agree, no amount of ‘good’ writing would make up for a deathly dull or pointless story.

      I suppose the only reason I struggled initially to rate Lolita is because even though it made me feel uncomfortable and standoffish, it did so deliberately.

      All said, reading is ultimately done for pleasure though, so it’s got to be able to hold your interest and attention. Thanks for your input 🙂

  3. It is kind of a quandary, isn’t it. We all rate books for so many different reasons, and I get your point about admiring the skill of the author and wanting to acknowledge that. I found your review honest, and fair – it clearly expresses how the book affected you, so in my opinion you made a good compromise by adding it to your favourites 🙂

    • Thanks, Mel 🙂 It was interesting because I genuinely loved and appreciated the book, and the hesitation came from knowing that the discomfort and coldness it made me feel were deliberate, therefore meaning that Nabokov had been successful in his aim, even if that did make it a harder read to get through.

      That’s why I love the bookish blog community. It got the gears in my mind turning and I knew I’d get some great thoughts from my fellow bloggers on the subject 😀

  4. I have been conflicted about my feelings on Lolita as well. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that we do not seem to consider the moral side of things when we read a crime book where there are terrible murders or mass slaughter, even if they are spine-chilling and make us feel sick. So the fact that Nabokov can make us feel so uncomfortable and conflicted while reading Lolita speaks of his talent—in a way, he crafted a story not entirely dissimilar to a crime thriller or a horror story in the way it makes its readers’ feel.

  5. Personally, I only give a full 5 stars to books that completely sweep me up in every way. Most of them are books that I want to have on my shelf forever and re-read when they call me.

    If I respect a book, but didn’t enjoy it, I give it a 4… 4.5 if possible. That said, I always make it clear in the text of review whence the rating came from. I never have a problem admitting that a book just didn’t grab me in the way I wanted it too, or that is was very well written and I probably never want to read it again. That’s how I felt about Cloud Atlas, actually. XD

  6. I felt similarly about Lolita. I really did not enjoy the read, but I do appreciate Nabokov’s brilliance. It’s a masterpiece of literature without a doubt, but I still had to force myself to continue reading every time I put it down because I just couldn’t bear it.

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