We talk all the time about the books we’re anticipating and the books we’ve loved, but we don’t usually talk about books we have decided that we’ll never read. There are plenty of reasons to decide not to read a book: not in a genre you like, written by an author you dislike, etc. But most of our “nah, I’m not going to read that” feelings come in passing. For me, at least, I could walk into a bookstore and find ten books on one shelf that I wouldn’t want to read, but it’s harder to think of books off the top of my head that I’ve filed away under “Don’t Read This.” Even so, I was able to come up with some of those, and here they are:
1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom. Schmaltzy, inspirational books are decidedly not my taste—I thought The Alchemist was the stupidest thing I ever read, and though I enjoyed Tuesdays With Morrie when I read it, I don’t really have any desire to read it again.
2. Ulysses – James Joyce. Anything that you basically need a translation/analysis guide to read is, in my opinion, just simply not worth reading. If the author had anything important to say, don’t you think he would have done it in plainer language? Maybe I’m biased after reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man—a masturbatory piece of navel-gazing garbage if there ever was one—and I know there are some (crazy, masochistic) people out there who apparently love Joyce, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about.
3. Twilight – Stephenie Meyer. Four books about an angsty teenager and her super-angsty century-old-but-still-hot vampire boyfriend/husband? Ummmmm, no thank you.
4. Fifty Shades of Grey – E. L. James. Talk about masturbatory—but seriously, just no. The quasi-relationship in Twilight is weird and abusive enough without some non-consensual S&M thrown in. Plus, from what I understand from passages I’ve read online, the writing is even worse than Twilight.
5. Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer. I tried to read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close several years ago (sometime in college, I think) and just could not wade through the ridiculous level of pretension. Bleh.
6. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo. I just don’t see myself ever being motivated enough to tackle this beast of a novel, especially considering that I hate sad things and I’ve seen the musical so I know what happens anyway.
7. The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner. As I Lay Dying was bad enough. You couldn’t pay me to wade through a book narrated almost entirely by Vardaman, so I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that I’ll ever dive into this one.
8. All The Pretty Horses – Cormac McCarthy. This really goes for pretty much anything by him; I hated The Road, particularly because he apparently feels that he’s above punctuation (NOBODY IS ABOVE PUNCTUATION) and I don’t feel comfortable supporting such obvious flouting of the rules of the English language for no effect other than complete annoyance to the reader. And by the reader I mean me, because apparently some people don’t mind, but screw them, they’re wrong. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
9. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens. Technically I’ve already read this—it was assigned to me in ninth grade English—but I’m pretty sure I skimmed it and then read Sparknotes because goddamn, is this book boring. Plus, the library book I had was easily several decades old and reeked of mold, which lent itself to a less-than-pleasant reading experience. I wouldn’t mind revisiting A Tale of Two Cities, though.
10. Rabbit, Run – John Updike. Only because I’ve heard from Andrew that I probably wouldn’t like it or the sequels, and he knows my taste in books pretty well, so I think I can trust him on this one. I have too many other books to read anyway.by