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.