Top Ten Authors I Quit Reading

Weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I’m finally back from visiting my family and working in NYC for an industry conference, and although I’m a die-hard fan of summertime, I have to admit that I’m looking forward to fall! Not for the weather of course, especially given that Hurricane Joaquin made it rainy and miserable on the East Coast, but because this is the season of new books!

Avid readers everywhere are feeling overwhelmed by all the recent releases, and my to-read list is growing longer by the minute! However, life is relatively short, and if I keep up my pace of reading 20 books per year, that means that I will only complete 1,500 more books (assuming I kick the bucket at 100).

Thus, my precious time on earth should not be wasted on crappy books. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is about quitting. Whether we’re discussing reading habits or tired tropes, book bloggers are revealing what they just don’t have the time and energy for anymore.

I hereby draw the line in the sand: These are the top 10 authors I have officially quit reading:

Author Collage 1

1. William Faulkner: There are three words that define my biggest literary pet peeve, and they are “stream of consciousness.” Do you enjoy the incoherent ramblings of someone who refuses to use correct punctuation? Then by all means, go Faulkner yourself.

2. Virginia Woolf: See #1 above and include entire plots involving people who say that they’re going to do something but then procrastinate the whole novel before actually doing it.

3. Herman Melville: Fishing is boring, but reading about fishing should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. Melville’s other claim to fame? Writing about people who write legal documents. He might as well be the literary equivalent of watching paint dry while waiting at the DMV.

4. Toni Morrison: I can certainly appreciate what Morrison has done to expand cultural diversity and give voice to the African-American community. However, I will argue that there are plenty of other authors out there who can check my white privilege without having to write about demon babies. Beloved? More like Disappointed.

5. E.L. James: Not sure if I can say that I’ve truly “read” E.L. James, but I think that the preview pages on Amazon were more than enough evidence that this author is doing a disservice to the genre of erotica. James is now my literary inspiration–in that, if this hack can make millions, then why can’t I?

Author Collage 2

6. Marian Keyes: I know nothing about Marian Keyes, other than This Charming Man was the least charming book of all time. What I thought would be lighthearted chick-lit turned out to be a clusterfuck of domestic abuse, coerced abortion, and sexual assault, and frankly I’m too disturbed to give her another try.

7. David Sedaris: Sometimes society pressures you to want to do certain things, like run a marathon, go gluten-free, or read David Sedaris. I have now realized that the type of person who likes all these things is otherwise known as “pretentious as hell.” I’ll stick to writers who are funny without being smug and condescending, thanks.

8. C.S. Lewis: Even when I first read The Chronicles of Narnia as a child, I knew that something was not quite right with Lewis. Why couldn’t the female characters fight in battle? Why is Susan excommunicated from Narnia after she reaches puberty and shows an interest in makeup? Fantasy tales should be about escaping the limitations and discriminations of the real world, not bolstering them. Pick up His Dark Materials and Harry Potter instead to read about empowered young women.

9. Orson Scott Card: Like Lewis, Card is an evangelical who puts a bad taste in my mouth. Although I enjoyed Ender’s Game and did not see any specific influences from Mormonism in the novel, I cannot ethically support an author well-known for his bigotry against the LGBTQ. Obviously, I realize that there are many writers who share his views, but at least they have the common sense to keep quiet.

10. Harper Lee: Okay, before you all scream bloody murder, hear me out. I agree that Lee is America’s Literary Sweetheart and that To Kill a Mockingbird is a national treasure. But this list is about the authors that I quit reading, and I refuse to pay a dime to Lee’s lawyers and publishers, who I believe are taking advantage of an elderly woman of enormous wealth. As much as I would love to read more about Scout and Atticus, I don’t trust the circumstances surrounding the publication of Go Set a Watchman enough to do so.

So what do you think of this list? Are my judgments too harsh, or do you agree that these authors are worth quitting? Share your opinions in the comments!

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Audiobook Review: Me Talk Pretty One Day

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 3 out of 5

Well, 2015 has started off on a mediocre foot. The first novel that I read, Invisibility, was a subpar paranormal YA romance, and now I’m disappointed by David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day after hearing such great things for so many years. I’ve got to say that I’m regretting my choice to insert this audiobook combo-breaker after listening to a long list of female comedic memoirs.

Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000) is a collection of essays about Sedaris’ childhood in North Carolina, living in New York, and moving to Paris with his boyfriend. He cracks jokes about his Greek Orthodox father and his siblings, whom I knew nothing about except that his sister Amy is also a famous humorist.

I enjoyed the essays that were more self-deprecating, especially about his struggles with language. Whether it was finding creative ways around his lisp as a kid or surviving French lessons with his sadistic instructor, I laughed at his bumbling and atrocious grammatical mistakes. Anyone who has struggled with learning a new language can relate to his verbal roadblocks.

I won’t doubt that Sedaris is a good writer, since it’s obvious that he’s a powerful wordsmith. However, I find issues with Sedaris personally, because to be honest, he didn’t seem like somebody I would enjoy hanging around. Besides his heavy drug use, his adamant refusal to use computers, and his insincere stunt as a creative writing teacher, most of the time he needs–as my mom would put it–an ‘attitude adjustment.’

Sedaris came from a privileged-enough family, raised by a meddling father who forced his children to play musical instruments and constantly berated his daughters about their weight and overall appearance. I’m not saying the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but there were many points in this book where I felt that Sedaris was just plain mean.

Part of this is because he revels in his superiority as a ‘real New Yorker,’ a personality trait which I can’t stomach. NYC is just another city, and living there does not make you automatically smarter and more interesting than anyone else. I hope that becoming an expat–yes, I know he loathes the word–in France instilled a bit of compassion when it comes to dealing with tourists and foreigners.

And even when he’s completely justified, like when a couple of Southern tourists on a train in Paris assumed he didn’t know English and accused him of petty theft, his stories fall flat because there aren’t any punch lines. I kept waiting for him to confront and humiliate the rude couple, but that never happened and instead he goes along his way without a word. His essays include a lot of buildup, but little payoff.

I may be one of the few people who dislike Sedaris, but unless he’s eaten a giant slice of humble pie in the 15 years since publishing this book, I’ll stick to writers who can make people laugh without putting others down–or if comparing him to other caustic yet relatable comedians like Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman, at least do a better job about hiding the fact that you think you’re better than everyone.

I’d love to get your thoughts, though! Is Sedaris a literary genius, a pretentious bully, neither, or both? Is his writing any different in his other books, or more of the same? Should I give him another chance?