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How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

Created: 07/22/15

Replies: 31

Posted Jul. 22, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

Herman Koch's bestselling novel The Dinner featured a family with questionable morals and several unsavory characters. How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?


Posted Jul. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Terry R

Join Date: 12/26/11

Posts: 18

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

I truly enjoy a book when I can relate to the characters. While I find these characters creepy, it was an interesting read. If it wasn't so well written, I don't think that I could have finished it.


Posted Jul. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Suzanne

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 223

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RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

All the story's characters were unlikable in some way or another. They bothered me—even the children did. I didn't trust anyone. And I agree with Terry R that I continued because the author knew how to write with provocation, keeping the story alive.


Posted Jul. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cameronr

Join Date: 06/02/15

Posts: 12

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

For me, it is more difficult to read a book when all characters are unlikeable. And the main characters of this book, and maybe every character in the book, are terrible people.
I did like this book, though, better than The Dinner. The Dinner just gave me the skeeves all the way around -- much more uncomfortable topic. There is something to be said, though, for exposing yourself to things that make you uncomfortable ...


Posted Jul. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
robinn

Join Date: 12/06/14

Posts: 28

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

It affects me a lot. I want to like and identify with characters. I could not identify with these characters. It felt like watching a movie through a greasy lens. No I didn't like these characters but Koch didn't want us to. He wanted us to feel uneasy throughout the book.


Posted Jul. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeh

Join Date: 06/15/11

Posts: 158

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RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

I like to read about characters not like myself. I especially like to read books written in first person narrative as it puts you inside the deductive/reasoning mind of the protagonist and provides more of a shock value. I'm around people like myself all day, I like to put myself in other situations when reading books and then mentally compare what I would do in situations as opposed to what the characters do. I admire writers who can transport me to lose myself in a character and setting.


Posted Jul. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
julianna

Join Date: 10/10/13

Posts: 29

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

None of the characters were likable but the plot and the quality of the writing offset my disdain for the characters. In the end I did like the book and would recommend it to selected friends who could take it and not be off put


Posted Jul. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
wendyf

Join Date: 05/11/11

Posts: 20

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

I don't remember reading a book where I disliked all of the characters like this one. It is well written and Koch really makes you want to know what will happen. It just gave me an uneasy feeling throughout the read. I'm not quite finished but couldn't stop reading this book.


Posted Jul. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barbluvstennis

Join Date: 07/16/11

Posts: 22

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

Like anything rare, I enjoy the emotional upheaval that books such as this provoke…All of the characters are unsavory, particularly the men and women that at first glance appear somewhat normal…Of course, it is easier to read about nice folks, but unless they are inspirational, I would rather enjoy provocative literature of the type that Koch knows how to deliver…


Posted Jul. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joanp

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 91

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RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

I'm getting better at accepting the fact that I don't like the characters. I can appreciate the story and artistry of the author. Herman Koch taught me this in " The Dinner". He is an expert at building a character and subtly revealing more and more and completely changing your opinion.


Posted Jul. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

Posts: 392

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RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

Like most of you, I found all of the characters pretty unlikable and if I had not requested this book and had merely borrowed from the library I probably would not have finished reading it. I have but aside a lot of books that are full of people I sort of detest from the start. Koch's writing style was strong enough to keep me going and he can definitely write well but I still did not like the book.


Posted Jul. 28, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
juliep

Join Date: 04/07/12

Posts: 69

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RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

After reading The Dinner, I realize that the author must like creating characters who are unlikeable. I definitely didn't like many, if any, of the characters in this book, but it did make me think more about their actions.


Posted Jul. 29, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

Join Date: 03/22/12

Posts: 271

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RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

Well I didn't like Marc at all. But he kept my interest and he kept me reading. I'm afraid I suspect his attitude towards his patients with the clock on the wall are unfortunately close to actuality.


Posted Jul. 31, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
gdlenehan

Join Date: 06/22/11

Posts: 16

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

I could not relate to these characters and did not like them, but the author's style and his story are interesting. The book is edgy and European and somewhat enlightening! I think that it might translate well into a movie.


Ladyonthelake
Posted Aug. 03, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeant

Join Date: 06/16/11

Posts: 17

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

Normally I think I prefer to have at least one character that I can relate to within a story and I have put down, never to return, more than one book with which I just could not make a connection. I was actually surprised that I was compelled to keep going with this book. It became a sort of morbid fascination to see where the plot was going and how the story and characters would evolve. I don't think I've ever read another book quite like this. The author has a fascinating talent to be able to delve into the darker side of human nature, show it for what it is and yet keep us interested even as we are repulsed.


Posted Aug. 04, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Savanna

Join Date: 08/04/15

Posts: 6

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

This is my second book by the same author. In both this book and The Dinner, I struggled at first because they were all miserable creatures...the adults! The kids were, basically, growing up and making mistakes- they can be forgiven to some extent. But the adults were so self absorbed! You keep reading hoping that someone will "see the light"....the discomfort makes you really ponder the issues and examine your own bias and thoughts.


Posted Aug. 04, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rosemaryk

Join Date: 08/29/11

Posts: 36

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

I have read many books that feature despicable characters.

I'M OKAY WITH THAT.

I certainly don't like everyone I meet in real life. However, that doesn't put me in deep despair.

I also read Koch's The Dinner. (Actually, I listened to that one--what a fabulous reader was used! He made the book even more wonderful, despite the tortuous characters.) I love Koch's style and will definitely read other works by him.


Posted Aug. 04, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Sharlene

Join Date: 04/10/13

Posts: 78

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RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

I can see we are mostly of a like mind. I definitely enjoy a book when I like the characters and can either relate to them or feel empathy for them. In this case, I did not like any of the characters in this book, except perhaps the children. That said, the quality of writing was such that it kept me reading although I had a few moments early on when I thought about abandoning it for something a little more enjoyable. That said, having read it, I would definitely recommend the book to others.


Posted Aug. 05, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
celiaarnaud

Join Date: 04/18/12

Posts: 35

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

I don't need to like the characters to find a book compelling. This one was compelling in the same way that a car or train wreck is compelling. You want to but you just can't look away. I tried to describe the book at my book group's "book sharing" session. Because I prefaced my remarks by saying that none of the characters was likeable, people felt like I shouldn't have shared it. I think one of the problems I had in that case was that the plot was so complicated that I got bogged down in some of the details (and I was really only trying to give an overview).


Posted Aug. 06, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 294

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RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

I found that I wanted to know what was going to happen in this book even though I did not like the characters. It seems obvious to me- and I have said this to friends when I mention that they might like reading this book- that the author wanted the readers to not like the characters. I find it amazing that this book was translated into English because the characters do seem "all-American." I find myself wondering what kind of a person the author is.


Posted Aug. 06, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurieh

Join Date: 04/04/12

Posts: 17

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

It is difficult to enjoy a book when you don't like the characters. That being said, I didn't really like any of the characters in this book but yet had to keep reading. The story moved at such a level that I needed to keep reading.


Posted Aug. 08, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
amberb

Join Date: 07/28/11

Posts: 78

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RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

Agreed - Koch was such a good writer that you had to keep reading, even if you didn't like anyone!


Posted Aug. 08, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jodig

Join Date: 06/07/15

Posts: 25

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

Generally if i don't like a main character I have trouble reading the entire book. I thought that was going to be the case with this book as I did not like Marc from the start. But I surprised myself. Once I got through the first 50 pages or so I really got into the story and I liked it. I still found Marc - and most of the other characters - despicable. But I thought the story was interesting and I flew through the book.


Posted Aug. 13, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bookbutterfly

Join Date: 04/16/14

Posts: 9

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

This is the first book I have read by this author and am intrigued to read others. I definitely didn't like most of the characters in this book, but did like the writing, so I was intrigued and it was an easy to get wrapped up in this book.


Posted Aug. 17, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
N*Starr

Join Date: 03/13/14

Posts: 35

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

The characters were creeps. But there was enough in the quality of the writing to keep me reading. They characters reminded me of characters from a Franzen novel.


Posted Aug. 18, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
poniesnpearls

Join Date: 06/28/11

Posts: 30

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

I don't have to like the characters, but I will stop reading without good writing and developed characters. This author is very, very good at creating awful people that are sort of fascinating to follow in a sort of creepy way. This is the second book by Herman Koch that I've read and the characters in both were hard to like. Both books made me think about the 'what if's' in life.


Posted Aug. 18, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
julianna

Join Date: 10/10/13

Posts: 29

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

I agree the characters in the book are not likeable. However the writing was well done so that didn't matter. The book urges one to think a lot about human nature and morality. Although I thought I wouldn't read any more of Koch while reading this book, I did read 'the dinner' and found it equally thought provoking. Reading these books takes active participation by the reader and a level of tolerance for people unlike oneself. I found this experience similar to art films as opposed to Hollywood movies that take the viewer on a mindless ride. I agree these characters and the writing style are similar to Franzen novels which also have a merit all their own. I would read more of Koch now that I know what to expect.


Posted Aug. 19, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 184

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RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

I don't need to like characters to like a book. That would be tough. But I found Marc particularly disagreeable and did not enjoy reading his inner thoughts


Posted Sep. 01, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
roberts

Join Date: 08/20/13

Posts: 31

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

The likability of a book's characters does not affect my reading experience. In fact, my preference is for characters who are complex and not easily categorized. My affection for, and ability to relate to, a character is unimportant.

In Summer House With Swimming Pool, the adult characters are all flawed, but they are not easily placed on the good versus evil continuum. Ralph and Stanley were the beneficiaries of great international success, artistic and financial, in the entertainment industry, and they were constantly the subjects of public adulation. To a point their excesses were a part of the world in which they lived, and I can understand their behavior. That understanding ends, though, with their attraction to young girls which is perverse and without excuse.

With respect to Judith, her sexual engagements with Marc and Stanley were wrong (even more so given the chance that the children could have been witnesses). But imagine being married to Ralph and the toll that the relationship likely took on Judith. That coupled with the world in which Judith lived, where infidelity is more the rule than the exception, tempers my judgement of Judith.

But on the issue of likability Marc presents the most interesting case. I take to heart the prior posts many of which characterize Marc as the devil incarnate. And there certainly is justification for that view. After all, exploiting the trust that his patient placed in him he perpetrated his patient's slow painful death. Pretty sadistic. But I must admit that I did not find Marc to be fully unlikable (maybe saying something about me). First, as the narrator Marc shared with us, humorously and candidly, his views on the practice of medicine, his patients, artists and entertainers and women, among other subjects. Some of the comments were self-deprecating, and they all seemed to be refreshingly direct. I appreciated, and, yes, liked Marc's honesty and self awareness. Second, even Marc's crime against Ralph was an act of revenge for the brutal attack on Julia. And while, as a general proposition, I do not condone vigilantism, my view of Marc is affected by the context of the murder.

At the end of the day, though, Marc showed himself to be more cold blooded killer than protective father. After Ralph shared with Marc the identity of the rapist (which at the very least should have created a question about Ralph's culpability) Marc showed not a hint of remorse that he possibly targeted the wrong person. So while I did find certain of Marc's traits to be likable I found him to be dark to the core.


Posted Sep. 02, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Sharlene

Join Date: 04/10/13

Posts: 78

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RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

Great post.


Posted Sep. 02, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
roberts

Join Date: 08/20/13

Posts: 31

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

Thank you!


Posted Sep. 28, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
shirleyf

Join Date: 04/25/11

Posts: 31

RE: How does the likability of a character affect your reading experience?

The likeability of the characters does not affect my reading experience as a rule. However, I could find no redeemable traits in the adults and had difficulty understanding their actions and motivation. I especially disliked Marc, but Judith was also unlikable, Carolyn didn't seem to care much about her daughters, Ralph was a pig, Stanley a pervert as well, and Emmanuelle - just weird.


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