You know the drill: Top 5 Wednesday was created by GingerReadsLainey and it is a weekly meme in which a topic is posted and you compile a list. This week’s topic appeals to the realist in me and I find it oddly cathartic to just admit that I will never ever get around to reading that book, ever. It’s good, it’s positive sometimes to just ditch the extra weight.
My Top 5 Books I Won’t Read. Ever.
- Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James
I feel like this is cropping up on a lot of people’s lists and I can see why. I’m not against erotica, I’m not against BDSM (though this is hardly accurate BDSM I’m told), I’m just very against books that I think portray an unhealthy relationship. And that’s what FSOG encapsulates, to me. I must admit I’ve technically read half of this book – I once read a study which broke down the novel, chapter-by-chapter, quoting passages in order to dissect how completely damaging and messed up this book is. Now, obviously, that study was purposely designed to persuade people of this opinion but I have to say that study was written 1000 times better than the quotes indicated the actual novel was. I sniggered and snorted a lot, I’m not entirely sure I could make it through the entirety of the actual book.
- Ulysses by James Joyce
The size of this thing is obviously a sticking point (says the girl currently reading the 900-page A Clash of Kings). Me and modernist literature don’t really get along. I feel like to even get through this book, let alone fully appreciate it, I would need to find stream of consciousness useful rather than irritating, which is my current opinion on it, hence I don’t particularly relish the thought of a 265,000 word word vomit. Perhaps if I listened to an audiobook I might get through the novel but I think it’s high time to just admit it… I have no intention of ever reading Joyce’s Ulysses (or Finnegan’s Wake for that matter).
- Anything by Michel Houellebecq
I had to read Atomised/The Elementary Particles for a module I took on Posthumanism and I found it one of the most pretentious (which was kind of brilliant in itself to be honest) things I’d ever read. The only thing that redeemed that novel for me even a little was the turn at the end, I won’t say specifically what it is but there’s an epilogue which reveals some things about the structure of the narrative which flips the story on its head. That was the only thing I vaguely liked, the rest was irritating and Houellebecq is so much a controversial character that his work, to me, seems vulgar for the sake of being vulgar. Which isn’t really my thing. (See also J.G. Ballard’s Crash which, at least, initiated some interesting critical discussion in class where Houellebecq’s efforts really didn’t.)
- Anything by Samuel Beckett
My relationship with contemporary literature is shaky at best, I took a module in third year that forced me to read more modern texts than the Victorian era and, by and large, I hated it. I felt like I didn’t “get” it. I didn’t know how to write about contemporary texts with quite the same level of academic nuance as I could (or at least tried to) write about early modern, Romantic, and Victorian texts. We studied Beckett as his work straddles this shift between modernism and postmodernism so for the sake of the development of literature, he’s important. Except I just found him confusing. Beckett encapsulated this pervading sense of me just not feeling like I was getting it, that I was missing out on something. I know Beckett is avant-garde and absurd, purposely so, so some of the slipperiness and confusion is part and parcel of the genre but… I found it more maddening than brilliant. It’s just not for me and I’d rather leave reading his stuff to someone who will appreciate it as it ought to be.
- Anything by Jacques Derrida
There’s a pattern here of denouncing whole authors because of bad, confusing experiences at university and here is another… ah, Derrida. The name people love to name-drop because it instantly makes an essay sound intelligent. Except, have you ever tried to actually read Derrida at its source, rather than people’s interpretations of Derridean thought? Maybe I just haven’t spared enough time or concentrated hard enough but I just find myself reading and reading and then thinking ‘hang on… what?’ So, Derrida, it’s finally time to admit I will not mourn firmly waving goodbye to you and all your types after university finishes. Because how many times are you sat in a pub and someone mentions Derrida? Never, exactly, so it won’t be a great loss to my literary knowledge methinks.
Aaand that was my Top 5 Wednesday for this week.
It feels good to finally admit that I should just knock these books/men off my to-read list on Goodreads because it will literally never happen. I will always find an excuse to not read anything above so it’s just time to cull and I can’t say I’m particularly sorry to call out any of these pieces of literature. I am mildly alarmed by how many of these I’ve been turned off because of university, but then again, were I not at university, I’m sure I would never have had the um “joy” of reading Atomised. Thanks university, it was a “pleasure”, truly.
Anyone out there want to quibble with me not understanding Derrida or try (in vain) to convince me to give Ulysses a chance? Go right ahead, I’d love to hear your comments!