Let’s Talk Books

Yesterday, I came across a delightful discussion about books at Salon.com . People were invited to recall a book they really hated.

It was a funny and interesting thread, which I would like to copy (since that’s the sincerest form of flattery, Salon.com!)   I was surprised that more people didn’t name Moby Dick. As I have already mentioned somewhere, Moby Dick is my own Moby Dick.

I loved that someone asked if he was allowed to hate a book he’d never read. He wanted to hate the work of Charles Bukowski, and I know what he means. I hate every book by Chuck Palahniuk, without having read them.   So hating a book Just Because is okay with me.

I will begin with “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin.   I hate that book. I can’t imagine anyone not hating it. And yet it is often assigned reading in high school. Is it because teachers want to make sure that guys grow up to hate “women writers?” I felt so sorry when my oldest son had to read it. I assured him that it was not representative of good fiction written by women. I probably said something like, “Oh god, what a fucking awful book! Ugh, they’re trying to torture you!”

I hated that book because its prose is so leaden and tedious. I can still recall the hideous yellow cover of the paperback after all these years.

I also hate Ulysses, and anyone who says how great it is. Not that I’ll ever read it.

Okay, does anyone have a book to revile?

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34 Responses to Let’s Talk Books

  1. Lora says:

    That would have to be, “Prescription for Nutritional Healing”. In it contains every god awful thing that could possibly happen to a human being. Scary stuff. (I am required to read this… don’t ask.)

    Really happy that some things never change & that kids are forced to read the same dumb shit as we were.

  2. Juri says:

    The Lord of the Rings and the lot.
    Was it really necessary to make the thrilogy four million pages thick?

    Bubbling under:

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover, most of Dickens, Huck Finn, anything from Stephen King or Carlos Castaneds, Walt Whithman’s long poems, Shakespeare’s sonnets, Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter.

  3. Imelda Matt says:

    I only read the serial numbers on my Benjamin Franklin’s. Not a book, true! But when you have as many as Imelda who has time to read!

  4. Lindsey says:

    The Lord of the Rings – absolutely.
    I think it’s more the dorks that go along with the book, then the book itself. You know it’s going to be an awesome cocktail party when people trot out their ‘limited editions’ of LOTR.

    Other books I hate? Chick Lit. I’ll have girlfriends that will try and lend these “Really great books” to me and I have to turn them down. I don’t read chick lit. Both on principal and how annoying I know the book will be.

  5. alias clio says:

    I hate college-cool writers. That means Burroughs, Kerouac, Vonnegut, and what’s-his-name who wrote Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. There are probably others who belong in this category but I can’t think of ’em now.


  6. dewayne says:

    i hate the internet…that’s a book, right? the internet? there are enough words for it to be one if it isn’t. all that cheese.

    we should have a new prohibition, and “information” will be our alcohol.

  7. Melissa says:

    I hate the King James version of the Bible, because power-hungry creeps use it so effectively to tout WHATEVER THEY WANT! Do they want you to be meek/turn the other cheek? It’s THERE! Do they want you to smite down their enemy? It’s THERE! No one would bake a cake from such a distorted, badly translated, tampered with document, yet for living your life, it’s good enough. BLAH! Thanks for asking!

  8. Sister Wolf says:

    Jesus almighty, I hate almost all of the above, except of course for William Burroughs and Kurt Vonnegut and Dickens.

    You forgot Anais Nin for college-lit. Hate it. Tom Robinson, is that the Cowgirls guy? Hate him. And the horse he rode in on.

    Lord of the Rings, how could I forget! It’s a given that we all hate that.

    Please continue!

  9. Lindsey says:

    Tom Robbins –

  10. Lindsey says:

    Anne Rice, HATE! Cliche and not sexy – even the sexy parts are about as erotic as a ham sandwich.

  11. honeypants says:

    Everything I was thinking has already been listed — College-Cool, The daVinci Code, Anne Rice, Palahnuik… Thank god you are all such wonderful book haters! Also, I’d like to add John Grisham to the list. And just for principle, I think we have to add Catcher in the Rye.

  12. enc says:

    Ayn Rand is overrated, in my opinion. I”m sure I risk my neck here, but sobeit.

  13. Sister Wolf says:

    Anne Rice, Ayn Rand, of course. Two other givens. Hate them.

    Catcher in the Rye was popular on the Salon.com list. I remember liking it. I hate Franny & Zooey, although I never read it.

  14. Sonja says:

    Oh what a great question. all of the above, but lay off Anais, would ya. she helped me through my twenties, cause that’s what I needed at the time, you would have hated me. what about books we’ve never laid hands on that we love? In that category, I absolutely adore Ulysses.

  15. adrienne says:

    Last summer I read Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, and good God I couldn’t force myself to read more than half of it because I was getting the feeling that the gory and horrible stories were somehow going to turn me into a CPR-doll raper sometime down the road or something. He has got the sickest imagination.

  16. Sister Wolf says:

    Well, all hipsters love Chuck P. It’s a badge of hipsterdom, like wearing Converse.

  17. Lindsey says:

    adrienne – that happened to me reading Bret Easton Ellis’ American Pyscho.

  18. Sister Wolf says:

    Oh dear, no one should ever read Bret Easton Ellis!

  19. tobi lynne says:

    Burroughs … can’t do it. I’m a huge Kesey fan, but I couldn’t get past the first few chapters of “Sometimes a Great Notion”. I like some Kerouac, but Cassidy told the stories much better. Beh.

  20. Sister Wolf says:

    Kerouac can kiss my ass. Hate him. But I loved “Sometimes a Great Notion!! It pays off if you hang in there.

  21. robert says:

    I dutifully forced my way through Ulysses right up to the middle of the famous final “sentence”. Then I ran out of money, sold the book at a used book store and bought a ham sandwich. Victory!

    Everybody I know loves A Confederacy of Dunces. I thought the main character was a toole. Two-thirds of the way in, I lost my copy. I have never looked back.

    Oh, and the great Beloved? Christ on a bike, how turgid.

  22. Sister Wolf says:

    People either love or hate Confederacy of Dunces, based on how they view Ignatius. It’s one of my alltime favorites.

  23. Echidnagirl says:

    OK – I enjoyed the Sex in the City series, though I haven’t rushed out to see the movie. But did anyone ever try to read any of the actual books Candace Bushnell wrote? They are godawful. What a bunch of whiny, up their own asses, useless, pathetic, unrelate-able getting by on looks and whoever they can f**k women. Argh. And basically, every novel is the same.

  24. Zandy says:

    I absolutely loathe anything ever written by Ayn Rand. Its gotten to the point that i purposefully deface her writing when I come across it.
    I also mildly hated The Handmaids Tale, which seems to have made me the target of many a feminist.

  25. kristinab says:

    shoutout to kate chopin–sorry to say i liked the awakening when taken in its literary context. unfortunately, half of the population seems to still qualify as a special interest group–women writers–which is a goddamned crying shame, and if i were forced to pick my favorites i’d have to go with erica jong, sylvia plath, betty friedan (oh yes i did!), and/or naomi wolf…

  26. Megan64 says:

    I too liked the Awakening. I don’t think teenage boys should have to read it though…it’s really more for brooding girls. I always wanted to write a paper about it entitled, Why Free Bird Is a Song By a Woman.

  27. Megan64 says:

    Oh I forgot the book I hate…Crash – the J.G. Ballard one. What a load of shite that was. Okay I get it…car crashes are sexy and subversive. Please.

  28. alias clio says:

    I think the reason I hated the college cool books so much was that they were always being recommended to me when I was in my early 20s by some college-cool man, somewhat older than I was, who would earnestly suggest that they were essential reading if you wanted to understand the world.

    Everyone has their pet peeves about the opposite sex. Mine was intellectual patronage from men.

  29. Sister Wolf says:

    Megan64, I always meant to read Crash. But now I’m letting my self off the hook on that one!

    Alias Clio, I used to rely on well-read men for suggestions. I still take their advice, unless they love Faulkner, in which case I figure we have different literary tastes.

  30. onparkstreet says:

    I remember being mildly horrified by all those Judy Blume books as a kid. What’s the deal with all the body fluids? I don’t wanna read that stuff as a 13 year old. I am trying to avoid the whole fluidy-teenagery thing for as long as I can, okay, Mz. Blume?

    I didn’t understand the college-cool books. I’m an immigrant to the US and I have no way to relate to a certain hipstery disdain of suburban America. I just lack the emotional make-up, or background, to ‘get it’.

  31. insomnia says:

    I actually liked the Awakening. Of course maybe this is because we were forced to read–and discuss–Sister Carrie (by Theodore Drieser) immediately before it. Directions for assembling a Barbeque Grill would seem enlightening after reading ANYTHING Drieser wrote. As horrible a book as THAT was, you really should consider context somewhere, eh? “Hate” is a pretty tough word to use on someone’s artistic output, isn’t it–I mean, Kate Chopin was dead by 1900! Then again I really enjoyed many of these writers so maybe I never trancended the whole college-cool book thing. Ha! Someone help me! I’m gonna read Naked Lunch again!

  32. Mark says:

    I wish people would stop pretending to like Middlemarch. And Judy Blume books rule.

  33. Sister Wolf says:

    So many fans of The Awakening! Wow. Do people like it because of its theme? It can’t be the writing. It’s not like I don’t respect the theme. I like The Golden Notebook, The Yellow Wallpaper, and lots of other feminist lit.

    Dreiser? I think I tried to read An American Tragedy, and couldn’t take it.

    Insomnia, please do read Naked Lunch again! It’s still good!

    Mark, don’t be silly. Middlemarch is the best novel ever written (in English, that is.) It is exquisite, and unforgettable.

  34. Janice says:

    Anything Twilight. Vampires were better in my day.

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