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!

Masterpiece Monday: 5 Classics I Will Never Read

Last week I discussed the five classic novels that I really want to read, and I’m happy to say that I’m making a dent on that list. I finished Francesca Segal’s The Innocents, and now I’ve moved on to Kafka’s The Trial. I haven’t read enough to make an opinion yet, but keep a look out for my review of The Innocents this week.

Today I want us to be completely honest. We all love books–there’s no denying that–but let’s face it, we don’t love all books. There are stories so bad that we wouldn’t touch them with a fifty foot pole. Most of these stories are easy to mock, like 50 Shades of Grey, but what happens when the literary world has dubbed them as masterpieces? Do we still voice our hatred or bury it deep down to avoid offending the literati?

Well, I’m not afraid of speaking my mind, so without further delay, these are the five classics I will never read, unless bribed or under threat of torture:

1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851): I have disliked Melville ever since I read his short stories “Bartleby the Scrivener” and “Benito Cereno.” His writing is so dull and dry that I cannot imagine being able to read an entire novel about a man hunting a whale. I’m sure under the surface there’s some wonderful symbolism, but the surface makes me want to fall asleep. How can this guy have been neighbors with Nathaniel Hawthorne? That’s like saying Kristen Stewart lives next to Meryl Streep. They may both be in the same profession, but they might as well be on different planets. Call me Ishmael? Call me never.

2. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929): I’ve stated many times before that my least favorite writing style has to be stream of consciousness, of which Faulkner is king. If it wasn’t for Sparknotes, I would never have finished his Intruder in the Dust. It was such a frustrating reading experience that I swore off Faulkner forever. If I wanted to read insanely long, incoherent sentences which ramble about nothing of significance, I would work in politics.

3. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925): I wish that I liked Woolf, because I think she lived a fascinating life. Nicole Kidman played her beautifully in the film adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours. But I have never been so bored as when I read her novel To the Lighthouse. Almost nothing happens. The characters want to go to the lighthouse, but put it off for decades. By the time they go, some have died and it’s just not the same. I’m surprised that Woolf and Faulkner weren’t partners in a writing workshop, because Woolf’s stream of consciousness is just as bad.

4. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843): This has to be the most overdone, cliché story of all time. Seriously, check out this Wikipedia page; it’s mind-boggling. I dislike most Christmas stories in general for being sappy lessons about morality and childhood innocence, but this one takes the cake. We get it: Scrooge is a humbug, and the three ghosts of his past, present, and future fill his heart with Christmas spirit. Excuse the Valley Girl reference, but gag me with a spoon. Dickens himself doesn’t suck, because I loved A Tale of Two Cities, but if A Christmas Carol was never adapted again, I think the world would be a better place.

5. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955): Ok, if someone could write me an absolutely stellar review of this novel–like it changed your life forever–then I might consider reading this one, but only out of morbid curiosity. Let’s face it, Lolita is the most famous story about a pedophile ever written. I’m pretty squeamish, and I’m apprehensive about the emotional trauma that might occur from being stuck in the mind of a sick bastard. Nabokov is the only author on this list that I haven’t read personally, so I think it might be better to test out one of his other novels first.

Alright, I just unleashed a ton of controversial opinions, so feel free to share your own. Should we agree to disagree? Which books do you not want to waste time reading? Don’t be afraid to shout out your thoughts–trust me, it’s therapeutic!