Right now, I’m salivating at the 2013 book previews I keep seeing. My shortlist includes Transatlantic by Colum McCann because I like novels that talk about being on planes. Seriously, that’s the reason it’s on my list. It also includes Going Clear, Lawrence Wright’s expose on Scientology, because frankly: Scientology sounds so cracked out I can’t believe anyone takes it seriously. So obviously I must know more.
But if happen to be the type of person who feels guilty while scrolling book previews and lists of books you should read (or don’t even pay attention to that stuff), may I present to you my list of five books you can safely, smugly ignore?
5. Wuthering Heights
I’m not sure how many times I’ve tried to read this, but I can never get past the first page. I would say it’s an aversion to the bloated language of the era, except I thrive on the bloated language of that era. I think it’s just that the first few pages are boring and I don’t feel obligated to read something that bores me. Though now that I make this public, I feel the last twinge of guilt that I’ve never powered through this classic. I’ll put it on my “if I get the flu, I’ll have the time to finally focus my attention on this and if I don’t like it, I can blame it on being sick” list. Also on that list? Moby Dick. Bleak House.
4. Les Miserables
This book is LONG and has so many history-focused tangents I forget the story before I’m halfway through. Just watch the movie (gasp!). And I don’t mean the movie out right now. I’m sure that one’s great, but I’m referring to the Liam Neeson movie that I watched with my dad at a very impressionable age. It terrified me. But not as much as reading another page about cannon manufacturing did.
The musical is bewitching (see what I did there?), but this Wizard of Oz prequel is more like a glorified piece of fan fic. Plot that drags on way too long, characters that aren’t sympathetic, ties back to the original story that are heavy-handed when subtlety would have sufficed…all trademarks of amateur stories riding on an original works’ fame. I implore you, however, to go see the musical if you get the chance.
2. The Shipping News
Are they just handing out these Pulitzer Prizes now (or rather, did they do so in the early ’90s?)? This book started off dismally, really got a handle on things like character development, intrigue, and twists in the middle, then ended dismally. I like my novels with a meaty, satisfying ending, thanks.
1. Everything by Ian McEwan except Saturday and maybe Atonement
It pains me to say this because I read Saturday and thought Mr. McEwan and I were going to be lifelong friends. But then I read Atonement and wondered why all the fuss? Why is this The Greatest Book to Ever Be Made Into a Keira Knightley in Pretty Dresses Vehicle? And then I read that book about the newlywed wife who, despite no history of abuse, absolutely refused to be affectionate with her husband (that’s what we call a lack of motive, and it’s irritating). And then I read another early novel of his in December that was the most disturbing, pointless book ever to cross my Goodreads list and so now it’s official: Ian McEwan is not a writer I like, nor is he a writer I respect. Obviously, I want you to agree with me.
What books do you feel good about ignoring?
photo: a few books worth reading.