I have always been opposed to censorship. That means that even though some books, like, say 50 Shades of Grey, have probably widened the hole in the ozone layer, people should be allowed to read them if they want. But you might be wondering, is it just popular literature that sucks? Oh, no, says Alice. Classics can suck too, and having majored in English, I consider myself quite the authority on literature suckage. For one thing, to be a classic, a book has to be horribly depressing, from what I can tell. I don’t know about you, but I can get enough depressing just by watching the news (esp Fox News). I don’t need books for that.
How many books do we read in school only because it was an assignment? How many books would NEVER be read if it weren’t for English classes? Probably quite a few. Here’s a few of my least favorites, and summaries so that you can be informed of these great works of literature.
By John Updike
Summary: I have tried to obliterate as much of the plot of this book from my mind as possible. What I do remember is that this book has a protagonist so creepy you want to hit him with a crowbar. Repeatedly. You also want to go back and hit John Updike with a crowbar just for writing it.
Final Analysis: Run, Reader, Run!
By Herman Melville
Summary: Starts out interesting adventure story with some guy named Ishmael. Suddenly, author stops plot cold to talk about whales. A lot. Then the story starts back with the point of view of some other guy named Starbuck. Book is well known for the white whale being compared to everything from God to a lawnmower, and also its stupid character names including “Starbuck” and “Moby Dick”.
Final Analysis: Take out about 600 pages and it’s not too bad.
The Grapes of Wrath
By John Steinbeck
No grapes in the book. It’s about the Great Depression, so not surprisingly, it’s a bit of a downer. Mostly I remember an adult guy breastfeeding from a woman. Kind of hard to forget, that.
Final Analysis: Read the Cliff Notes, so you can sound learned but not get so depressed you’re ready to jump off a building.
By Charles Dickens
I don’t know what girl dumped on Charles, but this book is his revenge. Protagonist loser Pip chases after Estella who stomps on his heart at the beginning, middle, and end of the book. Also involves Miss Haversham, an old lady covered in cobwebs that would become the model for librarians everywhere.
Final Analysis: Expect all you want, but it’s pretty long and has a lousy ending.
Last of the Mohicans
By James Fenimore Cooper
Novel that would be sexist and racist if one could understand a word of it. The author, clearly in an attempt at humor, names the main character Natty Bumppo.
Final Analysis: Watch the movie: at least you can look at Daniel Day Lewis.
The Sound and the Fury
By William Faulkner
Book is written in stream of consciousness, which is another way of saying “incomprehensible”. I can’t remember anything about it, and I like to keep it that way.
Final Analysis: Listen to Shakespeare. “Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing”
Typical guy gets lost and won’t ask for directions. Has adventures while sailing around Greece. Most of his men are eaten by monsters, but they’re really stupid, so you don’t care too much. Long poem, but repeats the same phrases like “rosy fingered dawn” over and over until you are ready to jump into the ocean with the Sirens.
Final Analysis: Weird, but has romance, lots of blood and gore, and a one-eyed monster that eats sheep. Two thumbs up!
By Miguel de Cervantes
Old crazy guy runs around and charges at monstrous windmills and such. There was supposed to be something really symbolically significant about it, but I forget what that was.
Final Analysis: Shows the Spanish authors are as nutty as the English authors
By Dante (surprise!)
This book puts the reader through hell – literally. The seven circles of hell will later be what many Christians think the Biblical hell is all about, since they haven’t actually read their Bibles.
Final Analysis: Hell kinda sucks. Best to avoid it.