Today’s post is going to talk through something I recently experience when reading The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.
I had heard a lot of great reviews about this book and so, naturally, I wanted to read it. It is also a Russian classic which is something that I had never read before. This book is iconic and has a lot of hardcore fans so I was really looking forward to reading such a popular book, as well as delving into a new culture and a style of writing.
However, I didn’t enjoy it. If you’ve read my February wrap-up post then you’ll know my thoughts on it but, in a nutshell, I didn’t enjoy the book at the time of reading it; it was too crazy, too “out-there” for me, I found the writing to be quite average and a bit confusing if I’m honest. However, in retrospect and after doing a lot of research on the story and the socio-historical context, I begun to see the appeal and why so many people loved it however I still felt like it wasn’t for me and (controversial opinion) is slightly overrated.
Despite this, whilst begrudgingly making my way through the book I searched online for other people that might have experienced the same as me but I couldn’t find anyone. All I found was people raving about the book, talking about how good and life-changing it was. This definitely made me feel a bit alone in my thoughts. I thought that I was stupid for not understanding it or maybe that I was being too harsh; how can everyone else love the book but I feel the complete opposite?
This got me thinking about the pressure we have to like books that are very popular and how, sometimes, we can feel stupid or like outsiders for not agreeing with the masses. I couldn’t think of any other examples of times when I had experienced this but I would love to hear from you in the comments if this is also something you have experienced?
I feel like we place a lot of pressure on ourselves to like books that other people love and rave about. I feel like sometimes, particularly with classic books, we can get tied up in liking certain books because it’s seen as “clever” or “intelligent” and we feel a sense of superiority when we like the book or can understand it. When I experienced this, I found it really helpful to try and re-discover the connection I have with reading; the reason why I read is not because I want to appear smart, but because I want to be transported to different worlds, to meet new characters, to have new adventures, to relax, to learn more about new cultures and peoples, and as a form of escapism. You need to remove any internal and external pressures that you might put on yourself when reading a book because reading is not supposed to feel like a chore. And if it does then you’re doing it wrong.
I don’t judge anyone for not liking a book that I loved. I’m interested to hear their reasons why because it’s great to listen to other viewpoints. Ultimately, I just accept the fact that we have different tastes and what we look for in a book is different. So why do I put so much pressure on myself and berate myself when I don’t like a popular book?
Have you experienced this before? Let me know!
Thanks for reading.
Love, Zoë x