In defense of popular “red flag” books
Has anyone ever told you the title of their favorite book, only to have you balk at their answer? Well, this is for you. After all, it’s possible to love a book even with all of its so-called “red flags” — at least, as long as fans still recognize the reviews are valid.
Here are five popular “red flag” books and why you should think twice.
Gatsby the magnificent
As widely loved as it is despised, Gatsby the magnificent has made a name for itself as one of the most polarizing books in classic literature.
They say that being a gatsby fan is an immediate red flag, especially considering how its male characters idealize and objectify women. And while that’s a valid point of criticism, the novel still stands out as the story of a man who desperately clings to what can never be restored, pursuing unattainable ambitions and fabricating an identity to achieve an ideal. , only to fail miserably.
Yes, the characters are unlikable, but they are in a way that reflects most people’s own flaws and delusions.
For all its glitz and glamour, there’s a dark side to gatsby which shines with its elevated and nostalgic prose. When you first read it, you might find it disappointing – maybe even just plain frustrating, especially if you were going to read it in high school.
But gatsby just needs to come; once you start approaching it with a little more openness, you might understand why it’s still hailed as a beloved classic.
The Heart Catcher
Listen, we understand. When someone says they love heart catcher, it raises a few eyebrows – after all, protagonist Holden Caulfield has been portrayed as whiny, problematic, and even dangerous to himself due to his runaway mental health issues.
But The Heart Catcher remains to be defended as it perfectly captures the angst of growing up, being seen and remaining vulnerable to people despite how many times they let you down.
Seeker is a treatise on the objects, people and places Holden clings to for comfort and his efforts to distance himself from pain. Not everyone will enjoy his escapades, quirks, and musings as he wanders around New York, but most will relate to Holden’s desire to freeze time and escape the realities of adulthood.
Holden has a distinctive voice and personality that permeates every page, and no one is spared his dryness and sarcasm – not the people he meets, nor the readers who travel with him. It makes for an interesting experience, to say the least, and you’ll find yourself sympathizing with him more and more as he loosens up his defenses.
Anything written by William Shakespeare
We won’t blame anyone for shunning the bard’s work, especially since the language is an absolute headache (thanks Sparknotes kids and No Fear Shakespeare college owners). And although these pieces are not perfect, they are appreciated because they are poetic, relevant and universal.
Shakespeare was a past master in the art of capturing the full range of human emotions, even with their infinite nuances.
Everything about Shakespeare’s form, themes, plots and characters is about proximity. While his plays are sometimes criticized for being empty and vague, the beauty of their openness is that there are more opportunities for readers to find themselves in their interpretations.
Some of Shakespeare’s plays have been called “red flags” for anti-Semitic, misogynistic and sexually inappropriate themes (such as The merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrewand Romeo and Juliet, to only cite a few). But these pieces, like the other books on this list, are products of their time. So while they don’t always uphold modern progressive ideals, loving them doesn’t mean agreeing with everything they preach.
If you are one of those people who picked up Dunes for Timothée Chalamet but ended up being extremely disappointed, we don’t blame you. Yes, it’s hard to be aware of what’s going on about 60% of the time and yes, it keeps talking about intergalactic politics. But once the plot picks up, you’ll be hooked until the very last page – you’ll just need a little patience and perseverance to get there.
Dunes is far from perfect, but it’s called the quintessential sci-fi novel for a reason. If you find in yourself the ability to move past the stilted writing and jargon overload, you’ll find it to be a gripping, fast-paced story of resilience, morality, and coming of age.
Protagonist Paul Atreides has big shoes to fill at 15, and there’s a lot to learn from reading about a young man who faces extreme pressure and steps into roles that carry the weight of entire galaxies.
For all who call “red flag” on Dunes because it’s a “white savior story”, think again. In fact, the next installations of the saga see Paul’s messianic complex collapse. Like Dennis Villeneuve, director of the film adaptation of the book, said, “This is not a celebration of a savior. It is a condemnation and a criticism of this idea of savior. From someone who will come and tell another population how to be and what to believe… that’s a criticism.
Have you ever summoned the She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named card against a Harry Potter fan? Trust us, we know – Potterheads are well aware of the controversies surrounding this author, which is why loving the show is such a complicated and guilt-ridden endeavor.
The next time you look up at someone who tells you they’re a Harry Potter fan, maybe give them some slack. After all, they were just as caught off guard by JK Rowling statements as was the rest of the world. And if you had become a fan as a child, you wouldn’t have recognized the subtle way in which the books are overtly white and heteronormative, symbolic and steeped in bigotry – which fans already struggle to come to terms with.
However, Harry Potter was a constant source of comfort and happiness for legions of people growing up, and it doesn’t go away. The connections readers have made with the characters, as well as the values they have learned in the books about love, friendship, bravery, are both sacred and untouchable. It will take more than a bigoted author to prevail on this kind of connection, red flag be damned. – Rappler.com
Andrea Ebdane is a Rappler intern.