Perfectly Imperfect Books

Books are like people. They’re temperamental, diverse and it’s the little things that make them special. Sometimes we love them inexplicably, warts and all. So today I decided to dedicate a list to the books that I love ALL THE MORE *because* of their imperfections. Here are my top ten perfectly imperfect books:

idiot1. The Idiot– so years ago when I reviewed this book I talked a little about how this book is technically a failed book about failure. I mean, it doesn’t have a satisfactory conclusion, it swerves off topic on multiple occasions and the plot is a little all over the place. BUT if you asked me which books have had the most impact on me, this would be on that list. Sure, this book may have some pretty random tangents- but man, the philosophy espoused here is endlessly deep. So yes, this book may not be as polished as some of Dostoevsky’s other work, but it’s perfect in its own way.

Emma_Jane_Austen_book_cover2. Emma– okay this one’s cheating a little- cos I think this one’s practically perfect in every way. In fact, I recall a professor of mine describing it as such. And it’s true, because the moral of self-improvement, the biting humour, the character development and the structure of the novel are all perfectly balanced (I could literally go on forever- but if you want more details my review’s here). However, interestingly enough, what makes this so successful as a novel is how imperfect Emma is as a character- and for me that’s what makes it so great.

Hobbit_cover3. The Hobbit– as you all know I *adore* this book. It was my gateway to fantasy and *arghh* it’s just so complex and amazing! BUT it does rightly get some criticism for being episodic. My response to that is this only adds to the story, since every episode moves the plot along, whilst containing its own unique message. The other criticism it gets is “it’s just a children’s book”- to which I say “eff off” or in more adult terms “if you haven’t learnt by now that there’s more to children’s books than meet the eye then you still have a lot of growing up to do” (see I can be mature 😉 ) Incidentally I should have known the movie franchise was doomed when Jackson said that.

ovid erotic poems4. Ovid’s Erotic Poems– OH GAWD I LOVE THESE- okay now I’ve got that out my system… These can be read in multiple ways- read it too literally and you might end up hating Ovid as a person- but if you get the subtext it’s one of the most hilarious books ever written. However, like most books that can be read in multiple directions, it’s easily either going to be one of the best things you ever read or the worst. Plus you may end up concentrating so hard on it that you develop a tension headache 😉

carry on5. Carry On– as a parody of Harry Potter, it obviously has to bear a lot of similarities with the original in order to work, but as is so often the case with satire, the humour is often missed by critics and I’ve seen this labelled “unoriginal” umpteen times. To that I would say, people need to do a better exploration of what satire is– but then getting undue criticism is also kinda a part of the genre too- so it’s a catch 22. Regardless, to me this is top notch stuff, plus it’s got Baz and Simon- nuff said 😉

poison chris wooding6. Poison– no one’s heard of this book, so I can say what I like about it- though *oh my goodness*, everyone’s missing out. This is one of the most impactful, clever books I’ve ever read and it will always be a favourite. But it’s weird- super weird- so I’m always reluctant to recommend it cos there’s a fifty percent chance people’ll love it, and a fifty percent chance they’ll say “what did I just read?”

aeneid7. The Aeneid– alright I’m stumped… I can’t actually think of any imperfections… Seriously… this is a tough cookie. The reason it’s on the list is that it was technically unfinished- but plebs like me will never be able to pick out its flaws, so I doubt it matters unless you’re a serious scholar. I guess I could say that my edition wasn’t perfect though (protip: never translation read of ancient poetry into English that’s been made to rhyme- unfortunately for me my lecturer insisted on it :/ ).

wuthering heights book8. Wuthering Heights– this one *had to* go on the list, because from a purely technical sense, this has some structural flaws, with an odd and maybe even out of place frame around the narrative and some pretty detestable characters BUT it also has some of the finest emotional moments in literature. No book has ever, or will ever, make you feel as wildly passionate as this. And it’s why, although I gave both books 5*, this one edges it out over Jane Eyre for me (which incidentally is a pretty flawless book). And speaking of emotions…

jude9. Jude the Obscure– ah Hardy- if you want to experience true pain, this is where you go. No one does tragedy like Hardy. So what’s its fatal flaw? Well, some people would say the way it deals with mental health… or doesn’t deal with it. You see, as I’ve mentioned before, there are two kinds of mental health in books- the would-be educational kind and the ones that present it as is. Personally my preference is for the latter, because if I want to be educated about mental health, which I frequently do, I go to psychology papers, not literature (not to mention that the “educational” kinds frequently fail). As for this being one of the darkest books in existence so be it. The world is frequently dark, twisted and bleak. Better that than preaching to me “suicide is bad” or “depression isn’t anyone’s fault”- yeah no shit Sherlock.

we were liars10. We Were Liars– first of all *no spoilers* but this book was perfection for me BECAUSE of the style, where ironically a lot of people don’t like this BECAUSE of said style. So I guess that’s the moral of the story here- what makes something perfect for one person may not work for someone else…

 

So what do you think about perfectly imperfect books? Do you have any books that you love in spite of their flaws? Let me know in the comments!

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60 thoughts on “Perfectly Imperfect Books

  1. wonderfilledreads says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about Carry On! I hear people criticizing it all of the time because it reminds them of Harry Potter… ummm, that’s the point! I really don’t think people know that it’s a satire before they pick it up and so it never crosses their mind while reading it. Such a shame too, because I really loved that book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alilovesbooks says:

    Quite a few on your list I love and the others I’m afraid I haven’t read. I really do need to read more widely in the classics.

    The Carry On thing makes me laugh so much. The number of times I’ve seen ranty reviews about how it’s a total rip off of HP and I just think duh!! That being said it does point out issues with Harry Potter.

    I’ve actually met a few people (including a teacher) who have pointed out how bad some of the grammar and writing is in Harry Potter and that they refuse to read it or recommend. So even universally adored books can have their critics.

    Personally, what makes a great book is the feelings it generates and how long it stays with me. Some of my all time faves would probably be considered trash by others but who the heck cares. I love it, that’s all that matters to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ah well plenty to look forward to 😉

      Ah yes I know right!!! And that’s true, that’s one of the things I like about it, cos it points it out, but not in a mean spirited way, and by embracing all the different things it also sends itself up. Basically I love it 😉

      Hehe yes that’s true, I’ve had my own issues with some of the writing before, but I do really like the world building, so I get that.

      Agree so so much!! Yes exactly!! Couldn’t agree more!!

      Like

  3. Nel says:

    I agree about Jane Eyre! I’m opposite of you though cause I like it more than Wuthering Heights. The only other book I also agree with happens to be the book everyone has never heard of — Poison. Which I’m sure you know cause I have a quote on my About page from that book. I can’t say I’ve read any of the others, including The Hobbit *shock!* I know. I’m super curious about Ovid now though especially if its hilarious 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Hehe I get that. I definitely think they’re both amazing books. Yes!! You’re literally the only other person who I know that’s read that!!! So underrated!! Hehehe yes, it’s really weirdly funny, but it takes a while- it’s clever cos the first set of poems are just straight romance- and then the second set “the art of love” undermines it, and then you don’t know if he was being serious in the first set anymore… Like I said, weirdly funny 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Angelica (TheBookCoverGirls) says:

    I love this post! Sometimes we have to just learn to love some books despite their flaws. Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite books of all time. People always tell me they disliked it because of the characters but honestly, that’s why I loved it. The characters are cruel and selfish and just plain vile and I love them for it. We Were Liars is another favorite that a lot of people dislike. I personally loved the style, although it did take me a bit to get into it. Also, I’d never heard of Poison but you can bet I’m adding it to my TBR now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you so much!! Completely agree!! 😀 I know, I’m the same. I can’t help but love them- maybe it’s cos I always like anti heroes 😉 Yes!! Completely agree with you. It’s a really underrated and unusual book, so I recommend it!! I’d love to see more people pick it up 😀

      Like

  5. raistlin0903 says:

    Truly a terrific list, and as for the Hobbit: I still feel like a child every day, and we all need a lit more of a child in us at times. Books like the Hobbit make sure we keep that inner child alive. Really enjoyed that read, and always will. Terrific post! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    I love how you are “always” pushing classics in such a way that I am intrigued and wanting to read more Orangutan! I admit I added Poison to my TBR list and am wondering if you goodreads? Cause I would love to see you on my friends reviews list!

    Just such a great post that I relate to A LOT! As a writer myself I find very few books perfect… but part of being a writer is putting your work aside even with a few flaws and keep writing otherwise every book would take a decade to write!! Emma is perhaps the book I’m most shocked is on the list but I agree she’s delightfully imperfect! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      hehehe I’m glad!! Yay- so glad you added it!! hehe aww thanks! Sure, it’s my personal account, so I don’t link up on here, but I’d love to add you- I’ll just go do that! 😀

      Thank you so much!! Ahh I totally get that!! hahaha so true!! I can relate!! Yes! The thing is, Emma is the perfect novel, I just know that so many people don’t like it because of Emma as a character (though I totally disagree with them of course 😉 ) ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. littlebookynook says:

    I love this post! I actually haven’t read a lot of these books on here and I really feel like I need to. I have actually tried to read Wuthering Heights quite a few times but I have found it rather difficult, and I think it is because of the structure like you mentioned. I never knew people called The Hobbit a children’s book, I never really would have taken it as one but what does it matter, it’s the same as Harry Potter really – everyone can read it and that’s what makes them amazing books! I loved Emma, but I read it after watching Clueless a thousand times and had the Clueless characters in my head hahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you so much!! 😀 Oh awesome!! And yes, the structure is offputting, but once you get into it, it’s really good. Yeah I didn’t realise it was one until I got older, but thought it made sense cos I read it young. Absolutely!! hahahaha I get that lol!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Briana says:

    I admit I did not like The Hobbit the first time I read it. I almost didn’t read The Lord of the Rings, unless I was assured it was “different.” I’ve come to appreciate The Hobbit since then, but I totally get it when other people don’t like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel says:

    Emma is not one of my favourite Austen books but it helped me to realise what you did here. Perfection in imperfection. WUthering heights is one of my favourite books. I know some people hate it because they are looking for a lovestory and are left disappointed. But the point is the book is about the agony and a mad possessiveness that accompanies love rather than love itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

    What an interesting list hahah I still got to pick up a nice little copy of The Idiot as well The Hobbit, but I did love that “adult” comment transformation hahah Definitely a skill to be able to say things differently. Although the lazy part of me would gladly go with “eff off” 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Adrienne Morris says:

    I just finished The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It’s one of his lesser works but I really enjoyed the narrator’s commentaries on intentional communities and the tendency toward hypocrisy and cruelty. As someone who’s lived and worked at a few I totally related.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. artyplantsman says:

    Two nominations from me:

    Jean M Aeul ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’ series started out great but suffers from extreme repetition syndrome. I don’t need reminding every other chapter how to make fire. (Or how to have sex, for that matter. Yes – the lead male character is supposed to be a hunk, I get it OK? But I don’t want to know his body better than I do my own, thank you.)

    Brian Lumley’s ‘Necroscope’ series. I LOVE these books and they are genuinely scary vampire stories with great world-building. But – his writing style is a bit histrionic and every! sentence! ends! with! an! exclamation point!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Marie says:

    Ohh this is SUCH a great post, I love this idea of perfectly imperfect books 🙂 I agree with you about We Were Liars, the writing style is not for everyone, that’s for sure, and it’s not perfect, but it worked for me too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Joelendil says:

    Great list! Regarding The Hobbit being “just children’s literature,” I think Tolkien’s friend C. S. Lewis said it best: “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

    Totally agree on the horribleness of ancient poetry being made to rhyme in English! I love the Aeneid too but haven’t yet found a translation that quite fits my taste. Dryden is obviously right out because of the rhyming, and the other two that I read (Fagles and someone forgettable) were okay, but both occasionally used expressions that were jarringly modern, and Fagles was pretty all over the place with line length and breaks. Any recommendation?

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you so much!! I think that’s the perfect way to put it (and gosh I love Lewis too!!)

      Yes!! I completely understand that- it’s really tough to find a translation that works for me too, because I like to go on translators that work for me and recommendations, but haven’t found one yet for that. I might try the David West at some point. All I know know is that everyone should avoid Ahl, and I’m gonna avoid Fagles now too.

      Like

      • Joelendil says:

        For me, Fagles works better for Homer where line length, rhythm, etc. is a little less strictly structured than the Aeneid. His occasional modern phrases don’t happen with great frequency but are still a bit annoying. I can’t remember for the life of me who the third guy I read was, but he was intentionally jarring with his use of modern figures of speech…idiot.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. mudandstars says:

    Love this post! I adored the way We Were Liars was written too! And Wuthering Heights is an incredible book, although I totally agree that the structure is all over the place, and the characters are horrible. Somehow it’s still one of my favourite books of all time! I can’t wait to read Jude the Obscure – it’s sitting on my shelf, and I hope to read it before the end of the year. And now I am so intrigued about Poison – what is it about?

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you so much!! I’m so glad you agree!! Yes! Definitely!! Me too- I can’t quite explain why because I’ve heard the criticisms of it from a technical standpoint and can’t disagree, but it’s just so stunning! And it’s amazing- but it’s very dark! I do recommend reading it though. Hehe I don’t want to spoil it, cos it ended up going in an interesting direction, but the basic premise is that a girl called Poison has a sister kidnapped by the faeries, so she goes to the Phaerie lord to get her back. I do recommend it, cos it’s very underrated, but it was quite an unexpected book!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. LizScanlon says:

    Oh gosh, I didn’t do very well with either The Idiot or Wuthering Heights… I have promised myself to give WH another go, though.
    Every other book on this list, I can’t say I’ve read… Ovid’s Erotic Poems sounds one that I’d be willing to give ago especially going by your comments about it… I do like a challenge… but I don’t like it so much that I’d be willing to give The Idiot another go… gosh, I think I DNFd it or some such because I was bored out of my bloody mind! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      hehe that’s no problem- my sister gave up on the Idiot- and I can understand why. It’s not considered his best work- I just was a little in love with Prince Myshkin and got very interested in the philosophy. It also doesn’t hurt that it was my first Dostoevsky so I didn’t know what to expect. WH is worth giving another go though, cos even if the structure is strange, it does get really good and there are some of the most memorable parts in literature in it!
      And I love Ovid- he’s got a really sly sense of humour going on, plus everything interlinks really well, and it’s also got great references/descriptions of myths. Have you tried another Dostoevsky? Cos like I said that one’s not for everyone, and it is on this list, cos it has a lot of things technically wrong with it 😉

      Like

  17. Zoie says:

    I love how you have such a diverse combination of YA books and literary novels on this list! Not a lot of book bloggers spend time reviewing both YA and literary novels, so I love seeing that on your blog 😊 For me, a book I would put on this list would be Demian by Hermann Hesse — it’s a Bildungsroman that might be regarded as confusing, but the story and the themes and philosophical questions within the novel has changed the view I view the world and myself. I would highly recommend it if you want to feel wowed 😋👍

    Liked by 1 person

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