I know we’re taught to love books growing up and I’m lucky that I caught that bug. However, every so often you have to be honest with yourself and say, “This book sucks and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Here are some books that I just had to stop reading.
5) Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller – I wanted to read this because of the classic Seinfeld episode where Jerry has a library cop track him down because this book is overdue by 20 years. It was touted as a revolutionary sensual thriller. Miller’s writing style was uninhibited and animalistic. And that’s a really stupid way to write a book in my opinion. I didn’t know if it was fiction or biographical or just scraps of a sexual deviant’s diary. It was as though Miller stuck a tape recorder in front of a sixteen year old’s crotch and pressed record. No plot, no characters, just rambling.
4) Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak – I have started and stopped reading this book 3 times. It’s set in Revolutionary Russia. By the time I wikipedia what a Bolshevik is, I lose steam and it gets lost under a pile of comic books.
3) Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman and Richard Harwell – I don’t know why I purchase any biography more than 27 paragraphs long. What could be accomplished in a pamphlet is accomplished instead in a gargantuan 656 pages. I was about 40 pages in and they were literally going through Robert E. Lee’s report card in middle school. “He got an A in math. Then he got an A in Latin. And then he got an A in English.” Ok. Got the gist.
2) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig- This was one of those books that was supposed to deliver some sort of message to me. The author, who was also kind of the main character, was supposed to impart some deep wisdom to my soul. The problem though was that the wisdom seemed to be coming from a total d-bag. The main character is unbelievably pretentious. He basically ignores his son and his friends as they go on a road trip across the United States, instead opting to hear himself pontificate on his own lofty thoughts. I’ve heard a theory that this was the whole point of the book, to show that valuable relationships are there in front of us if we can get over ourselves. I don’t buy it. Stinkola.
1) The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker – The initial thesis on this is really interesting. The author draws on philosophy and psychology to support his opinion that all of our neuroses, character flaws, anxieties etc are all based in the repression of our fear of death. So we should accept that we’re going to die, right Ernie? No, he says. Because if you truly accepted the fact that you’re going to die, then you’d be deemed insane by society.
It also contains sentences like this: “the essence of man is really his paradoxical nature, the fact that he is half animal and half symbolic.”
I was talking to a buddy of mine and describing to him how this book is depressing and doesn’t seem to have any answers.
Me: It’s like there’s no way out. We want to be immortal but we can’t be because we’re attached to finite bodies that decay constantly.
Buddy: Hmmm…yeah. Sounds pretty stupid to me.
Cherry Hill, NJ – As they finished their respective meals, a large group of friends watched in horror yesterday as their waitress at the Cheesecake Factory on Haddonfield Road came out of the back room with just one check. The jovial tone of the party, which had heretofore not considered exactly how they’d be paying for the meal, turned quickly into sheer and utter dread as the server dropped off one singular, solitary bill.
Agreeing that they probably should have said something at the beginning of the meal, the group hurriedly raced to organize their money and elect a leader to shepard them through the harrowing ordeal set before them. A panicked Paul Cowens, junior financial analyst at a local Bank of America branch, began to experience shortness of breath and heart palpitations knowing he’d likely get saddled the responsibility of collecting payments from everyone because they assumed he was “good with numbers.”
When asked if she could go back and split the checks up, the waitress explained that it was physically and morally impossible because it was “already in the computer.”
Crispus Attuks – First person killed during the Boston Massacre and not, as his name would suggest, one of the bounty hunters commissioned by Darth Vader to capture the Millennium Falcon. Attucks was a seaman and dockworker in Massachusetts, even though with that name he could easily be piloting a Mandalorian slave ship in pursuit of famed intergalactic smuggler, Han Solo. An icon of the Revolutionary War, Attuks is held up by historians as a martyr although, for my money, he really could have made a nice career collecting Wookie scalps for Jabba the Hutt.
Pomeranian Voivodeship – A province in northern Poland where Albert Patterson of Albany, NY is hiding from his responsibilities. We know you’re there Albert. Just come home.
Death of Marat – A painting by Jacques-Louis David which shows the French Revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat dead in a bathtub with a bunch of sheets and towels and blankets, which must have been normal back then? The depiction is a subtle insight into the fragility of powerful figures and into the apparent French custom of taking dry linens into the bathtub with them. Plus, he has a towel wrapped around his head which would lead one to assume that most French people did that as well, I guess?
Absolute Zero – Refers to either a theoretical temperature present at the lower limit of thermodynamic physics or your ex-husband.
Jägermeister – Yeah, get me two…wait no…Bridget! Bridget! BRIDGET! Do you want a shot? Jaeger. Ok, three shots. How much is that? Huh? How much? Fifteen. Yeah, put it on the card. It’s under uh…Bridget! BRIDGET! What’s your brother-in-law’s last name? Ok. Put it on Campbell.
(Hades) – On Saturday evening to Sunday morning, Sept. 19, Hell will be closed to in-bound traffic. The closures will give maintenance crews the space needed to safely perform routine work on the exhaust fans in the 4th circle and are scheduled to begin after the endless, desolate twilight (approx. 10 P.M.). Sinners can expect delays and are urged to find alternate routes to the frozen lake of blood and guilt. Satan asks the immoral, the liars, murderers, secular politicians, covetous blasphemers and formless false deities to pass with caution through the work zone for their safety and the safety of their ghastly, wretched souls.
Work is scheduled to be finished and traffic restored around 6 a.m. Sunday morning afternoon or until the Universal Reconciliation, whichever occurs first. Sinners may hear the frothy gurgling of the Sullen and Wrathful underneath the River Styx during this timeframe, but rest assured those noises are considered normal and expected during this type of work.