As I rather fearfully begin "The Kite Runner" I have a bit of a feeling. I am scared that it is going to be another of those books I can't get on with although lots of people think it's marvellous. Here are my top five in that category, although I have probably supressed others:
White Teeth by Zadie Smith – had to stop after about a third of it as I couldn't care less about any of the characters;
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kinsolver – all that laden laboured stuff about Africa and missionaries (but it's not her as I really liked Animal Dreams);
Captain Corelli's Mandelin by Louis de Bernieres – I had to read the first chapter about 8 times and it took months to get through it. Hated Penelope Cruz in the film too although loved her before that in Spanish things;
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – got bored - I just didn't get it;
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie – can't really remember but I think it was written in a funny tense?
This makes me think of other lists I could write eg. the Top 5 books that I liked although lots of other people couldn't get on with them. Step forward Vikram Seth with your big book A Suitable Boy- I loved it!
Then there's the Top 5 books which I read for sentimental reasons knowing they wouldn't be much good because the author had peaked long ago eg. Jump by Jilly Cooper - overpopulated with appallingly embarrassing sex scenes, including one which raises rather serious issues of child abuse that Jilly ducks entirely.
And the most irritating plot twist - Freya North in Pillow Talk where two characters met again after 18 years, fell in love instantly but failed to swap phone numbers. For the next 200 pages they were unable to find one another and didn't think of googling despite the fact that they used internet for other purposes and one of them ran her own business and the other wrote pop songs and had an odd name .
And the Top 5 unreadable books written by people I know? Better stop now....