Diversity, Memoirs, Non-fiction, Well known books, Women's

Whoops… I didn’t like Maya Angelou’s most famous work. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

So this is awkward. You start a book that everyone knows so very well. The book is also written on this immensely important topic – rather, several of them. And as you trawl and trawl through it, you only come to realize that it’s murdering you with how uninteresting it is to you.

Suuuure don’t feel good. Hey, I’ve actually written a whole post about how to deal with this situation. So now I’ll be following my own advice and still sharing this review with all of you. Hope you won’t judge too harshly 😅

So basically, let’s get down to the facts. What is true:

  • this is an important book for black people’s history and culture
  • it’s a well-known book and it does deserve it and should be well-known
  • it deals with important subjects, and not only related to race

But then… What is also true:

  • I did not know it was a memoir?? (FAIL! So #judgeme. I like going into a book without spoiling it for myself ;D)
  • I… simply did not enjoy it. (Don’t hit me please!!!)

I won’t argue with the fact that this book deals with a lot of important things. It’s not that the it wasn’t good – it just wasn’t for me. And it’s not the topic matter I didn’t like – somehow, it was the writing. I know that a lot of people really love Maya Angelou’s writing, but for some reason all it did for me was making me distracted. Getting through the book felt like a chore! I was baffled, because usually when it comes to topics like these, I gobble the book up.

So here’s the dilemma: it wouldn’t be right to rate such an important book low. But then again, it would be awful to rate it high because it was simply work for me to read it.


So I’ve decided on three stars, and I will assume it’s same for me to say that Maya Angelou’s writing is just not for me. Still three, because the subject matter was definitely interesting, and I absolutely love reading about black history, and the inequality, about women’s struggles. Maya’s life impresses me, who she became, what she did – and I’d love to know what happens next! But… I just don’t see myself reading another 5 books, working through them the way I had to plow through this one.

So… is there a movie yet? 😀 (totally #guilty for asking.)

Even if I did not like it, you still might! You support this blog by buying this book from Book Depository using this link ❤

Have you read this book, or anything else by Maya Angelou? What were your impressions?

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

36 thoughts on “Whoops… I didn’t like Maya Angelou’s most famous work. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

  1. It is quite ok to say a book is not for you. No book will be great for every reader. It is good to stand up and give a fair reason for your rating. You have my support.

  2. Well, I haven’t read the book so have nothing intelligent to contribute, but gotta tell you I could watch that girgeous dog gif for hours! (I think I might be quite shallow, really… 😉 )

  3. I read this for an upcoming uni module and I gave it three stars too – I thought it was really important and emotive, but I also struggled with it in places. It’s always a bit uncomfortable critiquing a crowd favourite!

  4. I have heard a lot about this book over the years. I have thought about reading it. I must sheepishly confess that it sounded a little dull to me. With that, it seems to deal with important issues. Of course i need to try it myself to know what I think of it.

    I think that it is important to be honest in one’s commentary.
    Brian Joseph recently posted…Don Quixote and Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue DotMy Profile

    1. That’s true, I don’t regret reading it because I learned some interesting things, but I can’t say I enjoyed the journey.
      Thanks for reading, Brian 🙂

  5. It can be really hard to admit not being totally enthralled by popular books – especially ones that are admittedly important like Maya’s works are, even if they aren’t always enjoyable reads. I picked this one up a few weeks ago, and I believe I gave it 4 stars, but it was a bit of a stretch for me. I admitted in my mini-review that I actually skimmed many sections of it because I found them either hard to follow or not entirely relevant to the story. I don’t regret reading it because I felt like many passages were very eye-opening for me in regards to what shaped Maya into the incredible woman she was, but I wouldn’t call it a 5-star read. Sorry to ramble! Just wanted you to know you’re not alone. 🙂

    1. Oh yeah, I totally don’t regret reading it either 🙂 but I know what you mean. Her writing style just… puts me to sleep. The saddest thing is that I would love to find out what happens in her life next – but I just can’t see myself reading the next 5 books!
      Thanks for visiting, reading and commenting 🙂 you are welcome to ramble on my blog as much as you want 😀

  6. I always cringe when I don’t like a popular book– this post must have been difficult to write because this is Maya Angelou. That being said, every book is not for every person. I’ve never read anything by her (though I know I should!), and I need to give this book a go– even if it turns out to be not my cup of tea (and memoirs rarely are my cup of tea) I feel like it’s an important book to read.
    Anna Pittman recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: 4 Childhood FavoritesMy Profile

    1. Exactly 😀 yes, the topic matter is definitely a ‘should’! But the writing… I don’t know, not for me. But you should try it, it’s not a big book 🙂

  7. Ahhh, I actually have this on my TBR as well! I am still looking forward to trying it out myself for all the reasons you’ve mentioned. Her writing is greatly praised and what she brought to the table was just too huge for me to ignore hahah I do hope the next book you read won’t have you going through so much confuzzle!!! 😀

    1. Yeah, actually, as I posted this I noticed that including this one, my last three posts have almost identical headlines 😀 two reviews and one discussion, all along the lines of “whoops I didn’t like a famous book” 😀 it actually made me smile. Maybe I gotta lay low and read less famous books for a while, just so that if u don’t like it, it’s not the same story all over again 😀

  8. Gurl, there is NOTHING wrong with not enjoying a book! You are totally welcome. I find that most classic literature (specifically science fiction, in my case) I struggle with. I understand why they are important in the moment, for sure. But writing style, consumerism, and expectations have changed DRASTICALLY since these books were written.

    Personally, I love to listen to Maya Angelou read her own works. I haven’t read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (though I am working on a poetry book review which contains the Dunbar poem that title is based on!) yet, but it’s on my TBR. That said, I’ll TOTALLY be listening to the audiobook. Also, you don’t have to read her autobiographies in order. I started with Mom & Me and Mom, the most recently published one, as my introduction to her life. Super interesting!

    So, here’s a question: Why didn’t you DNF this book?
    Jackie B. recently posted…#AnneReadAlong2017 : Giveaway Winner!My Profile

    1. I know you reviewed her book about her relationship with her mother – I’m actually quite curious about that one right now, having read this one. But I can see how a book narrated by the author herself would be so much better! That’s an idea.
      DNF? I don’t do that. Unless it’s really, really, really really bad. Like once a year! I always give the book a full, ENTIRE chance 😀

      1. You don’t DNF books?! Seriously?! Wow. I’m really impressed by that. I find that I lack a tolerance for certain books. If I get to 30-40% and I am not invested in the characters, the world, the plot, whatever– I have to put it down. Otherwise, I am sad. There are so many great books in the world I’ll never have a chance to read since I’ll run out of time! Why waste my time with bad books?

        That said, I will read books in their entirety for book club, even if I would normally DNF them. I think that makes for a stronger discussion. I can clearly address firm points I normally wouldn’t have made since I have context of the entire story.

        I’ll have to read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings to let you know what I think of the two Angelou books together.
        Jackie B. recently posted…#AnneReadAlong2017 : Anne’s House of DreamsMy Profile

        1. Yeah, I just don’t DNF… I used to, but then was taught a good lesson about how you can miss out if you don’t give it a chance. Since then I haven’t really been DNFing.
          And then there’s the whole ARC business too.

  9. Omg, this has happened to me before! With…wait for it…One Hundred Years of Solitude! I felt that it was too verbose. It’s the kind of book you read when you’re high. I really enjoyed some parts of the book, but overall, my thoughts didn’t exactly match the rest of the reviewers’.

    1. Oh! Oh! You are so right!!! Yes, that one!!! I couldn’t even get anywhere with it! (Although that might have been because I was reading it in Spanish with an open English version, back when I was learning Spanish :D) but yes… I feel like it’s in the Spanish-speaking culture, particularly South American, where they have suuuuuper long and eloquent sentences with no punctuation, and I just don’t enjoy that style at all. I’ve had other books by other authors from South America give me the same experience. Which is quite interesting?
      “A book you read when high” 😀 that’s the spot. You’re a genius. It totally is. Especially with how wacky I remember that main character to be.

        1. Yep, I think you nailed the reason 🙂 I was also wondering if it was the format too. It was a paperback, and I usually read kindle books. But I’ve never had trouble with reading paperbacks before… So I don’t know. Long sentences can be cool too, but then they need to be flowing and stream of consciousness, like Faulkner or something. I can dig that.
          That said though, she did have some great, smart quotes. It’s just that the rest was dull for me 🙂

      1. I find Girl of Fire and Thorns…actually kind of overrated. Like there are many other popular series where people claim that they are overrated, where books like this I feel like are ACTUALLY overrated.

        So far I can only think of this 😀

    1. Yep, that’s the dilemma – the topic is good, some quotes are REALLY good! Bit the rest… my friend Jackie here says she really enjoys audiobooks narrated by Maya herself. That sounds like an idea 🙂 there’s always so much more passion behind words if they’re spoken by the person who wrote them.

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