Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A different book meme

Because I'm an original thinker. Even when I'm doing a meme.

I pilfered this a while ago from Babelbabe, who got it from 50 Books, where I lurk.

Except I can't really do this meme correctly, because it's supposed to be about books you've lied about reading, and mostly, when I was in school, I read the books I was supposed to read. I can't say that I was an especially hard-working student, but I was an English major; reading books was what I was there to do.

That is, except for a few in graduate school. Actually, a lot in graduate school. Bill Brown, I officially apologize for not reading a whole shitload of the books you assigned for that seminar on a justly obscure era in American literature; I blew off at least half of them.

But I blew them off so thoroughly that I can't remember what they were.

And now? People, I can't be bothered to fake anything, let alone something stupid like whether I've read a book. I've read Moby Dick. I've read Paradise Lost. About five times. I've read Dryden's Aeneid and Pope's Iliad and Odyssey and The Brothers Karamozov and Middlemarch and the Barchester Chronicles and Remembrance of Things Past, and basically, if some book club skank thinks I'm going to waste my time reading some middle-brow, wanh wanh, people-are-mean piece-of-shit best seller, she can kiss my fat white ass. Pretty much.

So instead of the books I've lied about reading, I'm going to list books in other categories.

I'm Amazed Nobody Ever Made Me Read
King Lear
The Red Badge of Courage
Anna Karenina

War and Peace
Anything by Steinbeck
Anything by Hemingway

I've Never Been Interested in Reading
The Color Purple
The Lovely Bones
One Hundred Years of Solitude
My Antonia
Sophie's Choice

The DaVinci Code
the one about the Geisha

I Never Managed to Finish
The Lord of the Rings

Books I Finished and Liked Quite a Bit, Although Going Into It, I Felt Extremely Wary
The Magic Mountain
The Remembrance of Things Past
Humphrey Clinker
Tristram Shandy

Books for which the quip "Kill me. Now." was invented
Pamela (Servant girl acts coy; marries master. Helen Gurley Brown would have done a better job.)

Rasselas (Samuel Johnson at his least sprightly.)

A Pilgrim's Progress (An allegory! Quick, where's my gun so I can shoot it!)

The Canterbury Tales (The earliest version in English of ideas that had become pretty shopworn by the time I was in college, 600 years later. That these ideas are expressed in Middle English doesn't help.)

The Romance of the Forest (So boring I forced myself to read it in 75 page chunks. I wouldn't let myself get up to pee until I'd finished reading a section. Picture me in a carrel in the library with my legs macramed together trying not to wet my pants, and you get the general idea. I can't remember a word of it. If asked what the book was about, I'd answer "Not peeing.")

Waverly (Again, this was a first. In this case, the first historical novel. When it was written, the whole idea of the fictional protagonist (Waverly) dealing with historical personages (Bonny Prince Charlie) was new! And fresh! And yet, somehow, underwhelming in the extreme.)

The Princess Casimassima It's the only full-length James novel I've managed to choke down.

Sons and Lovers "Hate" barely begins to describe my feelings for D. H. Lawrence.


  1. You have to read The Winter of Our Discontent by Steinbeck. And let me know what you think.

    I hated One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Color Purple. Don't even bother...

  2. I have to agree with your entire list of *no interest* books. And I never got much into Lord of the Rings either but my 16 yr old son loved them. Steinbeck? Wow! You made it through high school AND college without having to read ANY? My kids both got stuck with "Of Mice and Men" and it was like pulling teeth from a pissed off lion (without drugs) to get them through it. I told them they should just be glad it wasn't "Grapes of Wrath", "Anna Karenina" or, GOD FORBID... "War and Peace".

  3. I read One Hundred Years a long time ago, and at the time thought it was brilliant. But I might be bored by it now. In any case, I don't like to read books in translation too often, because I know what they lose. So each time I think of trying Proust, they come out with a new and supposedly better translation. And I ain't gonna learn French anytime soon. And there's a new translation of The Magic Mountain. (I read the old one, and when I came to the crucial conversation that takes place entirely in French, I thought, "If I had to buy this book in translation, why did they think I wouldn't have to have the friggin' French translated too? Ya don't see me buying Proust in the original, do ya?" And I recall the movie where Alan Alda plays a newly divorced intellectual who keeps trying to introduce his bimbo girlfriend to high culture, to her boredom. One day in bookstore he tells her to try The Magic Mountain, and she says excitedly, "Is it all about fairies and elves?" When told no, it's about a bunch of people in a t.b sanatorium discussing philosophy, her face falls to the floor.)

    I never finished Catch-22 either.

  4. oh my god, woman, go read King Lear. It's fucking brilliant.

    otherwise, if you must read Steinbeck, make it East of Eden. Total soap opera, I couldn't put it down.

  5. I think you should add a list, "Books Profs Made me Read So Often, I came to Hate Them"--or maybe that's part of "Kill Me Now?" In that case, I nominate Their Eyes Were Watching God. And by the time I read Invisible Man for the 4th time, I wished Ralph Ellison really were invisible.

    I really wish people would stop recommending Oprah's reading list to me, too.

  6. I ADORED how you made this meme your own. If I hadn't already done it the "conventional" way, I would have copied yourn.



Gentle Readers:

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xxx, Poppy.