I was browsing a few new-to-me book blogs this afternoon and found one that got me to thinking about books that are "popular," "important," or prize winners despite my distaste for them. Take a look at the list posted at Faemom's:
1. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe - I understand the political influence this book had when it was published preceding the American Civil War. The book accomplished exactly what its author intended it to accomplish. However, few books filled with so many stereotypical characters and so much ludicrous exaggeration are read and taught so many years later, nor would be Uncle Tom's Cabin if it were not a nearly perfect piece of propaganda.
2. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - Terrible book that is written almost as a screen play with countless two-page chapters and choppy scenes that was indeed turned into a horribly boring movie. This is one of those Oliver Stone type distortions of history that the gullible amongst us will believe to be true. This is one of the most successful (in number of copies sold) bad books of the 21st century.
3. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand - I suppose that if I bought into Rand's political ideas this one would have been a lot less painful and, just as importantly, a lot less boring than it is. I read it because I was required to read it. Thank goodness that's over with.
4. Lord of the Rings -(whole series) - J.R.R. Tolkien -You have got to be kidding me. I find it impossible to lose myself in a world that makes it difficult for me to hold my eyes open. The writing is tedious, the books way too long, and the fantasy not that engaging.
5. Harry Potter (series) - I suspect that kids and young adults love these books for good reason but as an adult reader I could never forget that they were written with a very young audience in mind. Cute doesn't cut it at my age.
6. On the Road - Jack Kerouac - I tried this one in the late sixties and found it all kind of silly and pretentious at the same time, two attributes not all that easily combined. I tried the book again two years ago and found that it is worse than I remembered it.
7. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger - I read this one as a young man and found it amusing but not all that meaningful despite what my English teacher said about it beforehand. Is there a more overrated author from this period than Salinger?
8. Howl and Other Poems - Allen Ginsberg - Are you kidding me? Give me a break...a permanent one from this kind of tripe.
9. The Natural - Bernard Malamud - I'm a baseball nut and I love books on baseball, player memoirs, player biographies and even books largely filled with nothing but baseball statistics. I don't know what I expected this classic baseball book to be but it turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments in the baseball book genre that I've ever read. Perhaps it's my general dislike of fantasy and fairy tales that caused my reaction. I hated the Robert Redford movie of the same name also.
10. Beloved - Toni Morrison - This Pulitzer prize winner absolutely leaves me cold after several attempts to read it. I keep returning to it, starting completely over from the beginning, and expecting a different reading experience. Is that the definition of "crazy"?
You know, this was so easy that I wonder how many books I could list if I had the time to keep going...