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Anatomy of the suck fairy

The Green Dragon

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Sep 28, 2010, 5:06pm Top

So that's what happens to books that were so good when I read them long long ago.

Sep 28, 2010, 5:38pm Top

I'm looking at you Piers Anthony, and you David Eddings, and whoever it was that wrote that Shannara tripe.

Sep 28, 2010, 6:06pm Top

Ahh, yes. I know her/him well...

Sep 28, 2010, 6:54pm Top

She's playing fast and free with pretending that fairy isn't real, but anyone who has read Pratchett knows that sometimes naming a thing makes it real. A very dangerous article.

Sep 28, 2010, 9:14pm Top

She is why I'm so scared of re-reads!

Sep 28, 2010, 9:21pm Top

3 - That would be Terry Brooks

I've been visited by the suck fairy before, but I'm happy to ignore her additions on occasion.

Edited: Sep 28, 2010, 11:08pm Top

Happened to me with Wicked. I was rereading it before reading the rest of the trilogy and Son of a Witch is still sitting there unread because of the Suck Fairy.

It's not so bad with YA because one would hope you live and learn, but adult novels? Yuck. It's probably why I so rarely reread.

Sep 28, 2010, 11:53pm Top

Out of the Time Quartet, only A Wrinkle and Time escaped the Suck Fairy unscathed. A Wind and the Door got a few bruises and stitches in the battle with the Fairy. Many Waters- I went from being like "I'm so happy that Sandy and Dennys got their own adventure" to "why are we setting an abstinence screed during the time of Noah's Ark?" And A Swiftly Tilting Planet...that one was came out of its encounter with the Suck Fairy bloody and comatose.

Edited: Sep 29, 2010, 12:37am Top

I don't know why, but somehow I can only imagine the suck fairy as something like this gnawing on my books...

e.t.a: WARNING: Pictures of fake mummified mermaids may be disturbing to the faint harted

Sep 29, 2010, 8:50am Top

#9, you are so right! Of the quartet, the only one I feel the need to re-read from time to time is A Wrinkle In Time. My first encounter with sci-fi as a child; it seemed a completely different book when read in college, and again something new when read as an adult.

I can't think of anything the Suck Fairy has done to me...I know I really enjoyed Victoria Holt as a teen, but am afraid they're not going to be as good as I remember. So probably, yeah, Suck Fairy is there.

Sep 29, 2010, 10:32am Top

I tried to reread A Wrinkle in Time and it had definitely had a visit from the Suck Fairy on my shelf - waaay too much religion that I'd never noticed before.

Edited: Dec 6, 2012, 9:03pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Sep 29, 2010, 3:40pm Top

I'm afraid she visited Joseph Conrad's books for me. I didn't HATE them on reread, but I did wonder why I had loved them so much. Totally forgot how much talking goes on in Heart of Darkness and how little actual doing. That Marlowe guy, he just can't shut up.

Sep 29, 2010, 4:52pm Top

So nice to finally have a name for this phenomena. At the risk of having to dodge some rotten fruit, the Suck Fairy hit Lloyd Alexander for me. I recently tried rereading The Book of Three and could barely finish it. I definitely imagined in way too many awesome details of that one as a youngster.

Sep 29, 2010, 10:00pm Top

Love the concept. Love it, love it. Thanks for the link!

Sep 30, 2010, 6:55am Top

I loved Five Little Peppers and How They Grew as a child. And I thought I would read it again! And wow, it was awful! And it wasn't interesting! And I didn't remember all the exclamation marks after every sentence! I can't believe I loved that book!

Sep 30, 2010, 1:20pm Top

I recommended the Myth books by Robert Asprin to some parent at a book sale. The suck fairy got them a while ago. The Garrett books by Glen Cook suffered suckage after a boyfriend with no appreciation for satire told me it was just "hard-boiled detective stuff." And, of course, Piers Anthony. Maybe growing up is what sucks.

Never liked Terry Brooks, so I was safe there, and I have refused to reread a lot of other stuff because I know how that horrible fairy works. My Side of the Mountain, no way am I rereading that...

Sep 30, 2010, 1:28pm Top

I just finished a re-read of Jitterbug Perfume. It got a bit side-swiped by the suck fairy. Not a full collision, but the fairy has definitely been here.

Sep 30, 2010, 2:31pm Top

I just pretend Heinlein's books are OK, even when the Suck Fairy has touched almost all of them. But ESPECIALLY Space cadet (which perhaps is the suckiest of them all) is immune, I say, immune! ;-)

Edited: Sep 30, 2010, 3:13pm Top

Hmmm.....Maybe the Suck Fairy has a little sister, the "Yer older, have been around the track some, and are a bit more jaded, um, *cough* sophisticated now so what wow'ed you when you were green and golden doesn't seem quite so fresh and brilliant as it did way back when"

Just reread some Planet Stories, "The Proud Robot" etc in "Robots Have No Tails" by Henry Kuttner.

Don't actually suck, but they are way less "polished" and way less satisfying than they seemed when I was eleven years old. Huh! Then again, I've read way more now than I had when I was eleven.

Sep 30, 2010, 3:40pm Top

21> Maybe the Jaded Fairy?

Sep 30, 2010, 5:54pm Top

ref #21

Make that Jade Fairy (She looks a little as if she might be Chinese, don't you think?) and you've got a deal.

Sep 30, 2010, 5:56pm Top

I will never re-read certain books because I'm afraid of the Suck Fairy. Some memories just shouldn't have to be re-introduced to reality.

Sep 30, 2010, 6:47pm Top

But then I've recently re-read Little Women and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and nary a Suck Fairy in sight.

Sep 30, 2010, 7:09pm Top

There are definitely books that I reread while fending off the Suck Fairy with a stick or something. McCaffrey's Harper Hall trilogy, for instance. I hate her writing, but there's something I love about those three books (maybe it's the fire lizards?), so I skim parts that I know suck and rewrite sentences in my head while I'm reading them.

Sep 30, 2010, 8:09pm Top

I'm really trying to figure out if I've run into the suck fairy, but I can't come up with anything I adored as a child or young adult which I don't still adore. That being said, there are lots of books I devoured as a teen, which I wouldn't read again for a prize. They weren't bad, I don't think, I just don't want to read that anymore. Things like Pillars of the Earth, Shogun, big old series of generational historical fiction like The Thornbirds.

Favorite books when young, Chinese Fairy Tales, Little House on the Prairie, Lord of the Rings, mysteries by Rex Stout and Dorothy Sayers. Yep, still love them all.

One book I haven't reread, which I loved is From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I wonder if that holds up to the wonder it inspired in me? I may or may not try it.

Sep 30, 2010, 8:16pm Top

The suck fairy nailed my Enid Blyton books. They aren't unreadable now, but I can't quite recapture the pleasure they gave me when I was 10, and it's not the 40+ years intervening - I love kids' books and still read and re-read many authors with undiminished pleasure. A few I think I even enjoy MORE than I did when I first read them.

Sep 30, 2010, 8:22pm Top

I recently re-read The Mixed Up Files and it wasn't half bad. Not as magical as I remember, but still good.

Sep 30, 2010, 11:06pm Top

MsLee, if it makes you feel better, I reread From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler several times since I've been a kid. If the suck fairy got it at all, the damage wasn't noticeable to me.

Sep 30, 2010, 11:16pm Top

I noticed the suck fairy had been around when I read the first couple of Wizard of Oz books to my oldest a few years ago. Somehow they just weren't as magical as they were when I was younger. I remember reading the whole series of books at least twice back then.

I've been meaning to reread the Eddings books, but I'm afraid now.

Sep 30, 2010, 11:49pm Top

29 & 30 - Yes, comforting. Ever since reading that book, whenever I go to a museum or other large public building, as well as enjoying the exhibits, I am looking for ways someone could survive unnoticed there. My first survival guide!

Oct 1, 2010, 1:15am Top

28 - you said it before I could, I was reading this thinking Enid Blyton, and then I saw your post. Her Adventure books I remember so well, I wanted to be those kids and share their amazing adventures. I re-read one not that long ago, and I'm sure it wasn't even the same story, now I know what happened - the suck fairy. I'm sure Nancy Drew has suffered the same fate (although I always wondered how she could get knocked unconscious so often without permanent brain damage).

27, 29, 30 - From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler still seemed great to me, although I'd forgotten a lot of the story. There are lots of others I read first as a child that I still re-read every few years and enjoy.

Oct 1, 2010, 7:29am Top

Oh! Oh! Oh! Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys! How could I have forgotten? However, I think there are simply some books which should be read in childhood and left there. I would not want to ruin the memories I have of those by my cold, adult judgment. They served a fine purpose when I was young, sort of ushered me into the world of adult murder mysteries. I will honor them by never rereading them. :)

Edited: Oct 1, 2010, 7:52am Top

A year or two ago I went through a phase of re-buying books I had loved as a child. Some of them still work - Peter Pan remains the delight it always was - but I've been feeling quite bad ever since that I am the same person who once (aged about 6) loved The Water Babies. Now I know that bitch had been at it I feel so much better. Thanks for posting Jasper.

Ed for touchstones

Edited: Oct 1, 2010, 8:35am Top

OMG MrsLee, I took the few remaining Nancy Drews home from my mom's house (some were hers when she was a girl) not long ago and have read a couple. Wretched!!!! I can't believe how awful they are. Even allowing for the time they were produced, they are bad, bad, bad. I still have a soft spot for them, but I also feel pity for what my younger self had to read.

Oct 1, 2010, 12:20pm Top

Yes Booksloth, the Suck Fairy got at The Water Babies for me too. How I loved that one when I was young. I used to fantasize about being under water with young Tom and having adventures with him, I even made up stories for my girls when they were little, based on my memories of that book. But when I started re-reading it...!!! Ouch! :-(

Thank goodness all the Anne of Green Gables stories have never suffered from the Suck Fairy, she's never attacked them for me.

Thanks Jasper - I love that article.

Oct 1, 2010, 12:32pm Top

The book which got the most attention from the Suck Fairy for me is Gone With The Wind. It really is gone from my life! Thank you Suck Fairy!

Oct 1, 2010, 2:54pm Top

There's the reverse suck fairy, too ... ever picked up a book, thought it sucked big time, tried it again, or became forced to try it again five or ten years later - and smacked yourself on the forehead - wow how did this incredible read get missed, the first time through?

Oct 1, 2010, 2:54pm Top

I'm contemplating a reread of The House With A Clock In its Walls, but now you've gone and made me nervous.

Oct 1, 2010, 3:13pm Top

I've filled in stories with details and happenings that didn't actually happen, so that when I reread a book and get excited because I'm coming to that great part I remember, I can't find it.

But it seems I also change details completely as well. These aren't just vague remembrances of what happened, these are vivid memories that didn't actually happen in the story. I reread the Golden Compass series last year and the ending was quite different from what I remember.

May 4, 2011, 4:58pm Top

>38 maggie1944: Yes Rhett and Scarlett do get royally slapped around by the Suck Fairy.

Nancy Drew escaped only by keeping in mind how old I was when I read the books. Should have known better by the time I read Gone With The Wind.

May 4, 2011, 5:22pm Top

#41 Have you been reading fan fiction online? That happened to me when I was going crazy waiting for the final Harry Potter book, I cracked and resorted to fan fiction, I read so many alternate endings for the series I sometimes have trouble remembering which was the real one!

May 4, 2011, 6:57pm Top

I'm going to talk about that article. It's great actually. The person mentioned a Trope Fairy, and there's this website called Television Tropes or something like that...oh, it's tvtropes, but anyways, seeing it, it changed my life...

May 4, 2011, 7:06pm Top

This whole concept is odd to me. I feel that it's like saying grape juice isn't so good after you've tasted a wide variety of amazing red wines, or that your first kiss wasn't so special compared to the first time you've made love to your current spouse.

No - grape juice doesn't suck. It's that you've experienced a wider variety so it is no longer so singularly special in comparison to those other, newer, things.

Another way to put it: If you evaluate a book on its absolute merits compared to what you have experienced before its first read - the 'suck factor' doesn't change. If you keep comparing it to what you've read since, well, yeah...

A Wrinkle in Time introduced me to amazing new SF concepts. Many of those concepts turned out to be moderately well written repeats of over-used tropes. But it was my first experience with them; and it made me want to find more (and better) of the same. For that, the credit it deserves is not diminished, and I think now calling it "not as good" misses the whole point.

May 4, 2011, 7:33pm Top

>45 JPB: You know, I totally agree. Great analogies too!

May 4, 2011, 8:06pm Top

JPB has it right, I think. There are writers in every genre -- my favorite sf example is Marian Zimmer Bradley --who you read at a particular time of life and you think to yourself, "OH, she's talking about ISSUES" as in the instance of Darkover Landfall. But yes, then you go back as an adult and Jo Walton's fairy has visited in the interim and it's not nearly as compelling. In fact, you suddenly understand the meaning of the phrase "potboiler". Sometimes it's that you were too young back then to know the level of your own inexperience; sometimes it's that you were so busy gulping down books that you didn't have time to recognize that the material was hackneyed and cliched. That's the downside with reading way too many books in way too short a time!

May 4, 2011, 8:13pm Top

>45 JPB:
Yes. Did not think of it in this manner. I read such books as, Valley of The Dolls, Peyton Place and The Women's Room. Reading them today would not have the same impact that they did back in the day. In fact, they may sound foolish and/or dated. They certainly were not so at the time.
You are right.
There are a few books that were rather poorly written though and it is a testament to all the reading I have done since I've read them that I am able to recognize a quality piece of literature.
Also believe that some people stay with author's whose books are routinely hit up by the suck fairy.......poor writing is poor writing !

May 4, 2011, 8:27pm Top

#43 - Nope. So far I haven't had the urge to read any fanfic. It's just my mind playing games with me.

May 4, 2011, 8:41pm Top


Totally agree with Piers Anthony. I loved every word of his Xanth novels and the Immortals series when I was in junior high. I reread some of them in my 20's and my stomach churned. Darn Suck Fairy!!

May 4, 2011, 9:33pm Top

45 > I'll see your analogy and raise! ;)

Many times the suck fairy means you didn't know how bad something was when you read it. It's more like drinking brackish water because that is what is available and later finding a clear mountain stream or some nice grape juice and not wanting to go back.

or drinking swill for beer because it's cheap and later learning what a decent drink tastes like. Some will drink their swill forever, others will periodically go try it again for old times sake and others will never go back. (Some will skip it altogether).

I've read books in all categories, some really were bad, some are still fun though have lost their 'treat' value and some really are good books.

May 4, 2011, 10:32pm Top

For me, the Suck Fairy has totally visited the Grape Juice factory. I can not tolerate the stuff! Icky! Right up there with Kool Aide, grape flavor.

Edited: May 4, 2011, 11:18pm Top

The Suck Fairy...

Ditto what JPB said in 45: It's an odd concept to me.

The point of a story, any story, is to evoke a feeling or feelings. Just because you were at some point in your life where a particular book was responsible for creating a good memory/feeling for you, that - 10 years later - you can't derive that same feeling from the book, does not mean the book 'sucks.' It means you're at a different point in your life. You've moved on to something else - which is understandable and part of growing as a person. To slap a generic label on a book because you get a different feeling from it is...an easy way out.

How you feel about what you read is dependent on when you read it. I bet if the you of fifteen years ago read a book you 'loved' now, you would think it 'sucked.' Honestly, if I read Pillars of the Earth when I was 19, my opinion on the book would be much different than it is now. And I bet it might change in another 15 years.

Subjectivity is not something one can measure objectively. A book's meaning to the reader is relevant to the moment in which it is read.

PS - The word 'suck' sucks.

May 4, 2011, 11:27pm Top

I do read fan fiction, for a very particular purpose, and very particular reasons: I want to see how other people imagine that gaps not filled in by the author. Sometimes I find versions of the gaps to be more interesting then mine, and I incorporate them into my 'gap view'

One such example of this was "How did Hermione re-connect with her parents at the end of Book 7? What was that like?" I read about 10 versions, hated 8, liked 2.

May 5, 2011, 12:07pm Top

Most books I really disliked stunk from the first reading.

There are books that did slide down in my scale of appreciation, but I can usually still enjoy them for a light read and will sometime pick up parts of the series I missed if I can find a cheap copy. The Pern & most of the Darkover books would fit that scenario

May 5, 2011, 5:12pm Top

I've often wondered if that thing about how ~10,000 hours of practice makes a person an expert at something could be applied to reading and appreciation of books. A 20 year old violinist would probably wince listening to a performance that she gave at 10 and thought was great then. Practice includes mistakes and, maybe in our case, less than stellar books. I think the bad books are probably an important part of the refinement.

May 5, 2011, 5:52pm Top

>56 psocoptera: Agreed. My father was a very stern man....but when it came to reading he let me read what ever I wanted to read. His premise was that if I didn't read the "bad" stuff I would not learn to recognize the good stuff.

May 5, 2011, 6:00pm Top

>57 faceinbook: Like "bad" bad or "horrible" bad?

May 5, 2011, 6:33pm Top

Robert Pirsig wrote in Lila that there are two types of quality; dynamic quality, and static quality. (I think those are the terms he used.)

Basically it works like this. You read a book, or hear a song. It is the best book or song in the world. You want every one to read that book, or hear that song. You listen to it again and again, or reread the book. It has something in it that you would call quality.

But later, the song is not the same. Or the book falls flat. The song, or book did not change. You did. You either got tired of hearing it, or your experiences broadened to the point of not being able to appreciate it as much as you did.

According to Pirsig, your first encounter with the book is an example of dynamic quality. It moves you.

Later, the book or song still retains a sense of static quality. I don' t listen to much Jethro Tull anymore, but I can remember when I listened to Thick as a Brick at least once a day--the whole thing. I put it on a few nights ago, and could appreciate why I loved it when it first came out, and I was 14, and there were still some parts that moved me but it was not the same experience.

Some things are trash when we come back to them. (I cannot believe I spent so much time listening to "Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player.") But others just lost the dynamic quality we once attributed to it.

My two cents, adjusted for inflation.

May 5, 2011, 7:32pm Top

Hands Arctic two bits. I like that.

Edited: May 5, 2011, 8:21pm Top

I like both theories at #56 and #60, but it might be even simpler than either.

When you've finished the very first book that engages you, by definition, it's the best thing you've ever read. (Regardless of its intrinsic quality, mind you....)

And while much one's reading life will be an effort to recapture that experience, one will go on to find better books, and worse books. And eventually you'll come to have a better-calibrated sense of what is 'good', and what isn't.

Still, it's the experience of that initial impact that you recall and are are trying to recapture; it's less about the intrinsic qualities of the actual book. And when you go back to it, it's extremely hard for it to be "the best thing you've ever read" in the new context of all the books you've read since then.

Apr 16, 2012, 12:36pm Top

So, this isn't about a revisit to a book I loved, but to an author I counted as one of my favorites, Thomas Hardy. The only thing of his I'd read and didn't like much was Jude the Obscure*. Enjoyed Tess of the D'Urbervilles and The Return of the Native and absolutely LOVED Far from the Madding Crowd and The Mayor of Casterbridge. So it was with much glee I picked up a short story collection of his titled An Indiscretion in the life of an Heiress. Blech. Still loved his style, but sweet farking cheeses, does every stupid mistake a woman makes have to result in a ruined life? Is every man a needy pushy self-absorbed twit? The only gem in the collection was actually a humorous piece about building a home. Even that ended too quickly, like there was a deadline looming.

*As my former brother-in-law said once, "He deserved to be obscure."

Apr 16, 2012, 1:40pm Top

Hee hee hee!

Apr 16, 2012, 5:40pm Top

I love the idea of this. I can't really remember any instances of this, as I don't tend to reread very often. Too many unread, recommended books to read. I can relate this to movies much easier. I can remember watching certain movies over and over in middle and high school - learning every line in the movie. Some of these I can't bring myself to watch again.

I like the different types of fairies as well. I am curious as to the suck fairy going between mediums, from book to movie, or vice versa? Especially with a movie that I never knew was a book first. I didn't know before LT that The Last Unicorn was a book. It now sits on my TBR pile unread, afraid that it wont match the magic the movie did for me as a kid.

Apr 16, 2012, 6:04pm Top

#62 - I did NOT love Tess, and have read no Hardy since that. I'm holding it against him, although I doubt he cares. ;)

Apr 16, 2012, 6:25pm Top

I was always glad I didn't have to study Hardy in school, especially after hearing the students in the other class gripe about Tess. Which doesn't make sense in my case because I enjoyed most of the books I did have to study. I still haven't read any Hardy and am hesitant about trying him.

Apr 16, 2012, 7:26pm Top

Thomas Hardy is the only 19th century British writer that I discovered I could *not* get through. I tried many times when the brain was young and malleable without success so I'm pretty sure that I'd never get through it now...

Apr 16, 2012, 8:40pm Top

heathn, I read The Last Unicorn after seeing the movie, and I loved both.

It's sort of like canned spaghetti and real spaghetti: both are good but for different reasons.

Peter S. Beagle has some wonderful books that I loved as a young adult. I have reread them and found them still enjoyable. You might enjoy them, check out A Fine and Private Place (I hope it's not been touched by the Suck Fairy for me!).

The Suck Fairy hit Katherine Kurtz' "Deryni" books, and I found as much as I had loved them as a teenager, I just could not bear to read them anymore.

But I still like Anne McCaffrey's Harper Hall of Pern as much now as I did 25 years ago, and I still love CS Lewis' Narnia books, 40+ years later...

Apr 16, 2012, 8:54pm Top

Canned spaghetti is good? Really? Seriously?

Apr 16, 2012, 9:06pm Top

Yes, Spaghetti Os are great!

Apr 16, 2012, 9:08pm Top

ah, OK. Time for "to each his own"! Not only will I not touch them, the kids I babysit won't touch them, either.

Apr 16, 2012, 9:09pm Top

Maybe the Suck Fairy got to them too....

Apr 16, 2012, 9:13pm Top

I tried Spaghetti Os shaped like Spiderman (or maybe Sponge Bob) on my kids about 10 years ago or so. They hated them, and I couldn't get more than a spoonful down. I thought the sauce was a bit bitter or something. Of course, it could have just been that can. But we never tried them again.

Apr 16, 2012, 9:17pm Top

Suck fairy didn't just get at the story, but somehow managed to insert itself into the fictional ancestry of the Swiss Family Robinsuck. I only hope that when they first saw it, the boys took a shot at it, too.

Apr 16, 2012, 9:30pm Top

74: My husbands always hated Swiss Family Robinson. "Whenever they ran out of something, it washed up on shore!" I've never read it, though. I might've tried once, but the narrative was too dry for me.

Apr 17, 2012, 9:31pm Top

Books that will never suck for me no matter how many times I reread them:

Anne of Green Gables
To Kill a Mockingbird
Watership Down

I dipped my toes in the water of classic fantasy as an adult, rather than as a child; I was an adult reading "children's literature" like The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia. So I don't have to worry about childhood magic being spoiled by an adult reread.

I'm hard-pressed to think of a work I loved as a child that did not hold up, at least on some level, under adult scrutiny. Either I'm just lucky that the Suck Fairy has not attacked them, or my tastes are not as discriminating as they ought to be.

Apr 17, 2012, 10:26pm Top

Aha! So that's what happened to certain of what I once believed were favorite books in the 20 or 30 years between readings. (Stranger in a Strange Land understandably comes immediately to mind, but so does The Story of San Michele, which is not quite as understandable.)

Bookmarking this thread to explore further.

Apr 18, 2012, 8:34am Top

I'm contemplating a reread of The House With A Clock In its Walls, but now you've gone and made me nervous.

I read that again fairly recently, and it holds up pretty well. Most of Bellairs' books actually hold up pretty well.

Edited: Apr 18, 2012, 9:44am Top

Has anyone experienced the Suck Fairy in reverse? When you read a book and you don't connect with it, but then, some years later, you encounter the book again and discover that it's actually much BETTER than you remembered?

I had this experience with Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I tried to read this when I was in tenth grade; around that time I was a Bronte enthusiast, having eagerly devoured both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. But when I tried to read Austen, I found her prose overly mannered and emotionally distant. Where was the passion? Where was the introspection? Where was the vivid description? I made myself read through the thing, but I wasn't unhappy when it was over.

Eight years later I had to read the book for a graduate English course. Remembering that I didn't care for it, I wasn't looking forward to it. Imagine my surprise when I found myself smiling all the way through it, enjoying the elegant and witty prose. The book hadn't changed, but I had changed; I was now ready to take what Austen had to offer.

An author I heard speak at a Con (I wish I could recall which author) pointed out that different works speak to us at different times in our lives, and for a variety of reasons. What we're looking for in a work of fiction is in flux. At a particular moment, this book might be just what we need, while at another moment we might be indifferent or even hostile to it. The Suck Fairy happens because of this -- what we needed before, we no longer need -- but we can also get the opposite. The Awesome Fairy?

Apr 18, 2012, 10:22am Top

I should probably try Austen again. I was in my early 20s when I read it and thought it mean spirited and gossipy. I enjoyed it, some, and could see why others did, but I didn't love it.

Apr 18, 2012, 10:44am Top

>79 kceccato:: Definitely! (Although I am currently failing to come up with any examples . . .) I totally agree with your last paragraph, that makes a lot of sense.

Edited: Apr 18, 2012, 11:19am Top

#79 - exactly. The point that books connect or hit us with different intensity during different phases of our lives is something I've raised on con panels many, many times. (as I'm sure, many peers have as well, the theme is scarcely new!).

Certain stories strike that chord in us as children, and others in youth or early adulthood. Many take the same themes and 'harken back' to more innocent periods of our lives, with adult themes added.

The books that survive our maturity are rare.

And the stories that are attempted while too young, or too inexperienced, when the viewpoint is mature - often get panned or tossed as 'bad books' when in fact, their target audience is not a youthful age bracket.

An author whose works have consistently held up with time (for me) is C J Cherryh. Also J R R Tolkien, Guy Gavriel Kay and Patricia McKillip. Lindsey Davis. Dick Francis. Carol Berg. Off the top. There are more. But this quality is rare.

Many titles I tossed when younger I held onto - they worked best a decade or more later, and in fact turned out awesome. Other titles struck the wrong tone at the time I first tried them, and worked much better when I was in a different frame of mind. There are some books I tossed back when that I KNOW I need to give another go. And a few that I would have tossed, but finished because I was on a trip somewhere and THAT was the book I had in hand - that totally shifted my perspective. But would not have, if I'd had a different choice at hand, or could have given up and tried something else.

Some fantasies that were written in the 80s, but were targeted for an adult audience, or were started by some author attempting different themes during the height of the Tolkien clone rage - these books are just starting to be noticed and be recognized for what they are, now. It's an interesting curve to watch.

I would LOVE to see a thread or a list of books people have read and loved that did not work in youth, but were awesome down the pike. I'm having a tough time finding a good reading list at the moment. I want the unpredictable, but also, a LOT MORE DEPTH. The surface gimmick doesn't fascinate so much as it once did.

I think an awesome fairy list would be a very cool idea.

Apr 18, 2012, 12:13pm Top

So the suck fairy is the awesome fairy's evil twin?

Edited: Apr 18, 2012, 1:07pm Top

They are two sides of the same coin -- that coin being, if you will, "the reader in flux," discarding old interests and gaining new ones, or perhaps reclaiming old interests in new skins, developing new perspectives from experience.

Apr 18, 2012, 1:13pm Top

(82) Janny, I'm with you, especially on CJ Cherryh. I never get tired of her stuff.

(76) kceccato, those are three that are still good to me, but I didn't read them as a child, either.

Apr 18, 2012, 1:40pm Top

68: Glad to hear that Fuzzi, I'll have to move it up in the TBR pile.

82: I found that many authors that were required reading in school have been much more enjoyable now that I am reading them for myself. Being required to read a particular book always put a bad taste in my mouth from the start. I never liked Beowulf in high school, but when I read for myself, it was much more enjoyable.

Apr 18, 2012, 2:02pm Top

Janny, start your thread. No need to wait for someone else to think it is a good idea.

Apr 18, 2012, 2:30pm Top

Kceccato, I had exactly the same experience with Pride and Prejudice--tried reading it at 16 and couldn't get past the third page...read it ten years later and adored it. My husband had the same experience. In that case, I think it's also having a better understanding of the period in which it was written.

I'm willing to bet, however, that the Suck Fairy has totally been all over the Heinlein I adored as a 17 year old. I'm afraid to look.

Apr 18, 2012, 2:39pm Top

86 - I enjoyed most of the books I was required to read in school. Animal Farm, The Red Pony and Wuthering Heights are the ones I didn't enjoy, but I don't remember them very well now either. I plan to reread each of them at some point. I hope the awesome fairy gets to them for me. I've already got a copy of Wuthering Heights waiting for me to be in the mood.

Apr 18, 2012, 2:39pm Top

#88 - "I'm willing to bet, however, that the Suck Fairy has totally been all over the Heinlein I adored as a 17 year old. I'm afraid to look."

Yes, I'm sure she has!

Apr 18, 2012, 2:43pm Top

88 - I've been wondering how the Suck Fairy feels about Heinlein. I, too, am afraid to look.

Apr 18, 2012, 6:43pm Top

I've had the reverse of the Suck Fairy. Does she have a name? This involves the movie Men in Black, though. As a child, the scene where Jay and Kay visit the lady whose husband was killed by the alien used to upset me, because I thought Jay was insulting her. When I watched the movie again at 15, I realized that he was trying to empower her.

Apr 18, 2012, 7:20pm Top

and get a decorator in here quick, cause......DAMN!

Apr 18, 2012, 7:34pm Top

Well, we were all thinking it ;)

Apr 19, 2012, 8:47pm Top

Sandragon, I read Animal Farm on my own about the time my older sister was reading it for school (I was always snitching their books to read!). I liked reading about the animals, but how the story progressed upset me. As an adult, I probably could appreciate it better.

I could not get through The Red Pony...I had to stop reading it at the part when the pony gets sick.

I might appreciate them more as an adult, but I might not. I loved Jane Eyre as a teenager at the same time I read Wuthering Heights, which I despised.

Apr 19, 2012, 9:01pm Top

The Red Pony was the first Steinbeck I ever read. Almost became my last too, except others urged me on. Steinbeck is a real mixed choice for me. Love his writing, hate the despair which oozes through it. Still, I love his writing enough that I will keep reading him.

Edited: Apr 19, 2012, 9:08pm Top

#95 - Read Jane Eyre as a yoot and loved it as well. Decided to try it as an audio book back in 2008 and still enjoyed it immensely, though I found myself chuckling at some of the improbabilities.

#96 - Yup. There are some of his books I will never reread.

Apr 19, 2012, 10:05pm Top

It might help appreciate Steinbeck if one keeps in mind that writing, or even admitting, about the dark sides in life were just "not done". And so, he was really breaking ground and calling for people to care that there were sad, needy, troubles in this country.

Apr 20, 2012, 12:51am Top

I don't think I would say that, maggie. After all Charles Dickens was doing it a century before Steinbeck. I get your point, and I do appreciate him, I just don't like to read his books frequently.

Apr 20, 2012, 8:11am Top

oh, yes, Dickens was very much the same kind of author but I'm thinking more of American culture which specializes in denial of poverty.

Apr 20, 2012, 6:04pm Top

My will to re-read The Red Pony is slowly leaking away. But I will persevere. I'll just make sure I'm in the proper mood for this one as well. It helps that I don't remember a bit of it, except for the part about not looking a gift horse in the mouth, when the boy gets his fingers chomped by the horse.

Apr 20, 2012, 6:51pm Top

#101 - That's more than I remember!

Apr 21, 2012, 1:04am Top

My biggest memory of The Red Pony is WTF! Sorry, one martini and I get a potty mouth. I have a lovely edition of it I inherited from my aunt, and I think that I was expecting it to be about a pony.

Dec 3, 2012, 1:02am Top

The chronicles of narnia are ruined forever for me by the suck fairy. I can't even stand the first fifty pages of the lion, the witch and the wardrobe.

And all the wonderful stories I remembered from water babies... weren't in the book or in the animated movie.

The mouse and his child animated movie/book can still give me the creeps. So at least that hasn't changed.

I still love The Neverending Story -- book and first movie (the other movies are just... NO.)

I also still love mrs frisby & the rats of nimh - book / animated movie / graphic novel.

But my all-time beloved velveteen rabbit is exactly like I remember, not a single thing changed! (Except I own a big beautiful hand-painted edition now with a gorgeous little fluffy stuffed bunny that matches the drawings.)

So I lost a whole series and all the stories I remembered (where did they come from?), but kept some of my most fav of all time... I guess if I had to lose some, I'm REALLY glad it wasn't my neverending story, rats of nimh and velveteen rabbit!

Dec 3, 2012, 8:22am Top

I tried rereading Chronicles several years back and I just couldn't get sucked in. I decided it was better to leave it as a happy memory. I tried reading The Book of Three out loud to my daughter when she was 7 or 8, and we got about 30 or 40 pages in before she asked me to stop. :o(

I agree that The Velveteen Rabbit is awesome (with extra awesome sauce) though!

Dec 3, 2012, 10:42am Top

I hate to admit it but The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series has been one of my biggest letdowns. When I was in my teens and twenties I loved the first three books, and re-read them frequently. When I revisited them twenty years later, I couldn't get past the first chapter. I still recognised they were very funny, but I just wasn't interested. I've passed them along to my son, and I hope he'll enjoy them as much as I used to.

Dec 3, 2012, 12:54pm Top

Agree with the Suck Fairy having done the Hitchhiker's

so not my thing, today

Dec 3, 2012, 4:07pm Top

Never liked it that much in the first place.

But I found the Foundation series okay as a teen, and wasn't really able to re-enter it some years later. Maybe the absence of major women characters.

Dec 3, 2012, 5:17pm Top

108> maybe the absence of anyone with character.

Dec 3, 2012, 5:40pm Top

Hee hee hee....

Dec 3, 2012, 6:33pm Top

Foundation truly is dire. I read it recently, but even as a teen I wasn't all that enthralled with Asimov.

Douglas Adams, otoh, I also read for the first time only recently (the first Hitchhiker book), and appreciated it quite a bit by the end. Didn't think it was rolling-on-the-floor funny, as apparently many find it, his humour is rather more subtle. That one I'm sorry I didn't get to as a kid.

I can't think of any books, but the suck fairy got to Abbot & Costello for me. Jack and the Beanstalk--WHAT HAPPENED??? You were a MASTERPIECE when I was eight!

Dec 4, 2012, 8:39am Top

Oh, well, if we are talking old TV shows: The Three Stooges were and still are just awful. Why slapping each other around is funny I have no idea, and I didn't think it was funny when I was a kid, either.

Dec 4, 2012, 12:42pm Top

(112) Ah yes! Someone who feels the same way as I do/did about the Stooges.


Dec 4, 2012, 6:41pm Top

112/113 - I've never understood the appeal. My mom apparently liked them, but my dad and I would look at each other and shrug, because neither of us got it.

Dec 4, 2012, 8:26pm Top

I liked The Crystal Cave the first time I read it.  Now, it bugs me that, in the first chapter/prologue, the young woman is constantly referred to as a girl (I've been labeled "feminazi" for being annoyed with this), and there are leaps in logic that I just kinda miss.  For example, Merlin's uncle gives him an apricot (unless it was some other fruit) and it turns out to be rotten.  When Merlin points this out to his uncle, the man goes ballistic.  Why?  Was the uncle trying to stealthily poison the child?  Did Merlin make the fruit rotten?  Was this going to be explained in the next book?  I have no idea, but as much as I enjoyed the book during my first read, it made even less sense the second time around, and even more gripes cropped up as I started reading the sequel.

Dec 5, 2012, 2:17am Top

I love the stooges. I hear David Bowie wanted to be a combination of Iggy and Lou Reed. Oh, wait...never mind.

Dec 5, 2012, 12:39pm Top

Yes, Rozax. Merlin could see the poison inside the seemingly perfect apricot. The uncle is angry not only because his attempt to rid himself of the child is foiled, but also because he fears Merlin's budding powers.

Needless to say, this is a book I really like...

Dec 5, 2012, 3:49pm Top

I was never a big Stooges fan. The Little Rascals and Our Gang comedies were pants piddlers for me, though! Tried watching a few with my kids a couple of years ago and even they laughed. Though the shows seemed kind of surreal after 40 years.

Dec 5, 2012, 8:55pm Top

As an adolescent, I loved The Marx Brothers, but I am afraid I'd not enjoy them as much today.

Monty Python, Peter Sellers (Pink Panther), and screwball comedies still make me laugh!

Dec 5, 2012, 11:19pm Top

This phenomenon is more complex than "suck fairy" implies. Almost nothing I've ever read has escaped the suck fairy, but I usually find something in the book that's positive, which I didn't notice or wasn't sophisticated enough to notice the first time I read it. Beyond that, when forced to revisit books I hated the first time, I sometimes realize that there is a lot more in there than I noticed. "Perspective fairy" might be a better term.

Dec 6, 2012, 12:16am Top

I can think of TWO authors, not my favorite authors, but there are two authors I can think of who are suck-fairy-immune. John Donne and Edmund Spenser.

Dec 6, 2012, 4:27am Top

I would be surprised if you didn't find the Marx brothers funny today. They were and still are hilarious.

Dec 7, 2012, 9:57pm Top

Any time a comedian uses playing with words they are likely to still amuse me. The comedians who used physical humor, even skillful, and difficult to do, usually does not amuse me. Don't know why.

Dec 7, 2012, 11:19pm Top

I was never a big Stooges fan, but the memories of my children and husband laughing hysterically while watching them is enough to endear them to me.

B_Radom - I can just picture the Perspective Fairy. It has silver thistledown hair, right? ;)

Edited: Dec 8, 2012, 10:18pm Top

Might be partly the timing, Karen.

Peter Sellers fighting with Kato still make me laugh, hysterically.

Perhaps the ridiculous is what makes me laugh?

See here:

Dec 8, 2012, 11:04pm Top

Thanks. I thought it was just me.

Dec 17, 2012, 1:47pm Top

a piece by Paul Krugman On The Foundation trilogy.


"And the truth is that if you're looking for richly nuanced character development, you should go read Anna Karenina. Asimov was actually better than many science-fiction authors at creating interesting individuals – as a teenager I had a crush on Arkady Darell, the firecracker teenaged sort-of heroine of the trilogy's conclusion – but that's not saying much."

"There is, to be fair, one scene in which the fate of the galaxy hinges on the quick action of a hero (or actually heroine – Bayta Darell, at the end of Foundation and Empire)"

Guess there were women in it.

Dec 17, 2012, 2:44pm Top

Blink, and...

Dec 17, 2012, 6:14pm Top

That guy doesn't have much credibility in talking about Foundation. He starts off by saying that it isn't science fiction book at all (wait, what?), then goes on to say ridiculous and insulting things about science fiction and science fiction fans.

Jan 9, 2014, 9:42am Top

Loved the Hardy Boys as a kid. I started reading them to my son when he was old enough. The first two or three were nice nostalgic trips, almost enjoyable. The next three or four, I can't remember anything about. Weird how their plots vanish from your mind as soon as you're done, kind of like my highschool courses did after I wrote the exam. My son's still enthused, but thankfully he's taken up reading them on his own now.

Jan 9, 2014, 6:03pm Top

The suck fairy hasn't hit many of my old favorites, but the ones she has hit have been hit badly. The worst casualty was probably The Sword of Shanara, which I remember absolutely loving at eleven. Just a year later I came back to it for a re-read (I'm a frequent re-reader) and found myself absolutely unable to finish it, or even to reach the half-way point. I think it had to do with my state of mind the first time I read it--I'd just read The Lord of the Rings for the first time a few weeks before and I was craving something just like it. Other fantasies that I read at the same time mostly haven't suffered the same fate, though--just Shanara.

Another one was Fire Bringer (and to a lesser degree The Sight by the same author). I remember devouring those in a matter of days, especially Fire Bringer, but on a re-read several years later it was a slog, and The Sight was unreadable. Similar thing happened with The Neverending Story, the first part being slower than I remembered and the second part being unreadable, though that may have been my state of mind when I tried to re-read it. I've been meaning attempt it again for a while.

Jan 10, 2014, 1:59am Top

If it makes you feel any better, with the help of the library I've made several attempts to read books in the Shannara series. Each time I get about 1/3 way, skim (most of) the rest and wonder why I bothered.

Jan 10, 2014, 2:13am Top

Glad I held off on buying the whole series then (even if it was just around $5 (for the whole thing, yes)). I have book one of Shanara, I'm curious what I think about it now.

Jan 10, 2014, 2:39am Top

Read through The Dark Elf Trilogy again.  It's so rushed. :(

Edited: Jan 10, 2014, 9:27am Top

131, I loved the Shannara series as a kid. Then it was featured on the Fantasy shelf at the bookstore, and still sits there now, but I think were it published today (edit: guess I should say, were the series launched today, since new books are still being written/published) it would land firmly on the YA shelf.

I read The Neverending Story for the first time just a couple of years ago (saw the movie as a kid) and liked it all the way through. Very metafictional.

134, Read Salvatore's Dark Elf trilogy the first and only time about six or seven years ago and it definitely felt below my reading level. I'd probably feel similarly if I re-read Dragonlance, another favourite from my Shannara days.

Jan 10, 2014, 3:26pm Top

135, I've re-read the first few Dragonlance books (the Dragons of Autumn Twilight sequence and part of the Time of the Twins trilogy) and found they actually held up pretty well, definitely way better than Shanara did, at least for me. They did seem a tad over-the-top and I've definitely expanded my horizons since I first read them at twelve, but they were definitely not terrible the second time through. I never did read the later books, though, so I can't speak to how well those may hold up to re-reads.

Jan 13, 2014, 10:21am Top

>136 Amberfly:, it would be great to discover that Raistlin and Tasselhoff in particular are as epic and endearing, respectively, as I remember. I just fear to take the chance, lol

Jan 14, 2014, 1:18pm Top

>131 Amberfly:,135 Meh, for me it sucked from the start, precisely because it felt like a LotR digest. I also hated the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy and didn't touch another GGK book for years, though I loved Tigana when I did.

Jan 15, 2014, 11:54am Top

Tigana was a great book, I agree, and (to stay on topic) it held up quite well when I re-read it. It made A Song for Arbonne that much more disappointing for me, though--I had such high expectations and it just failed to meet them. I haven't tried Fionavar yet, though it comes to me highly recommended.

Jan 15, 2014, 2:38pm Top

139: I loved Fionavar, Amberfly, but then, I also liked A song for Arbonne...

Jan 18, 2014, 12:27pm Top

140: I have Fionavar on my TBR shelf right now. I'm going to try and get to it sometime this year and see how it goes. Arbonne had its good moments, but I felt it moved too slowly. Tigana, though--that one I loved.

Jan 24, 2014, 6:11pm Top

When I was about 10 or 11, I read and re-read Poor Felicity by Sally Watson. She's re-released her books and renamed it The Delicate Pioneer; it's available for Kindle for $3.99. It's been on my wish list for months, but I'm afraid the suck fairy will be waiting, so I haven't pushed the "buy" button. (I really hate the new title; the orignial title is SO much better)

Jul 3, 2014, 12:14am Top

Hijacking this thread to recommend the latest published by Jo Walton (05/2014) My Real Children. She was the writer of the article that inspired this thread.

That novel moved me more than any I've read in several years. Not much sci-fi or fantasy, just people dealing with real shit.

Since I've let my reading thread languish, I'll put the recce here to point folks back to the article at the top too.
Regards, Jasper.

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