Seven Books I Am Not Interested In Reading

I’m not interested in these books, even though they are all on lists of the 100 books you should really read in your lifetime. Not Interested. These are the books that I’ve gotten close enough to to get a whiff of what they are about and what they are like and decided I was not interested. I’m not even sure I’m open to your arguments about why I should want to read them. But you can try.

  1. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by  Judy Blume
  2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  3. Ulysses by James Joyce
  4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  5. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  6. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

So tell me, why should I care about any of these?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Seven Books I Am Not Interested In Reading

  1. Sean

    I have read three of these, Ulysses (which is nigh-impossible to finish), Moby Dick (which is one of the most brilliant books I have ever read), and The Grapes of Wrath (which is also fantastic). I wouldn’t try to convince anyone to read Ulysses, as you can basically open it to any page, start reading at random, and have the same level of understanding. As for Moby Dick, it is a masterpiece; fluid, engaging prose, well-developed and likable characters, and lots and lots about whales thrown in. It also has a fantastic sermon on Jonah and the Whale. The Grapes of Wrath is likewise a wonderful piece of literature – it really captures something of the era it depicts, I think, and it paints an incredibly human and sympathetic picture of migrant workers. Of course, having grown up with fishermen and poor country folk around, that might colour my reception of these works. But, then again, I’m Irish, too, and I really didn’t like Ulysses that much…

  2. Frederick Harrison

    Let’s start by admitting I’ve only read two books on the list: Wuthering Heights and The Grapes of Wrath.

    Wuthering Heights was required reading for high school English. I did not like it then. I would not read it again. As an introduction to 19th century romance literature in England, it serves its purpose. It also works as a study of character and human folly. But if neither of those two things interest you, then you don’t need to read it.

    The Grapes of Wrath, on the other hand, is a perfect book for our current economic malaise and disparity. I haven’t read it a second time, but it is a book that has stayed with me (physically and mentally) since high school, where it was part of a literature course that looked at human society and the idea of utopia. Steinbeck captures the desperation, false hope, and betrayal of the working class during the Great Depression of the 1930s, through the experiences of the Joad family, displaced Okie farmers who set off for the Promised Land of California. Biblical allusions abound and Steinbeck’s musings on seemingly mundane things like the difference between working the land with a horse and plow and the “modern” and “progressive” use of a tractor are brilliant and evocative. It also works as a critique on greed and the failures of capitalism, but Steinbeck makes his arguments against injustice through relating the experiences of the Joad family and other Okie migrants, rather than with polemics, statements, statistics, and charts. Steinbeck seeks to engage the heart rather than the intellect, arouse our senses of empathy and compassion for the Okie migrants and pity for those who exploit and oppress them. Rather than condemn the rich, he shows how greed has diminished their humanity.

    Ayn Rand probably hated The Grapes of Wrath and its appeals to altruism and justice. I once read a summation of Atlas Shrugged in five words: I’ve got mine; screw you. She co-wrote a book of essays titled The Virtue of Selfishness, which should give you a further clue about her beliefs. Should you still be curious about her, there is an interview she did with Mike Wallace just after Atlas Shrugged was published that is certain to inoculate you against her insidious doctrine. Your instinct on not reading The Fountainhead should be heeded.

    Moby Dick was a failure upon publication, but its estimation has grown over the years to the point where everything else Melville wrote and had success with is obscured by it – or so I read in a feature article in the literary/arts section of a newspaper, probably the Globe & Mail. I’m told it is a great book, but I have yet to read it. An excerpt was recited in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan which conveyed Khan’s utter malice towards James T Kirk quite effectively, almost poetically. On that basis, I’d like to read more.

  3. Wuthering Heights is spectacular. I think its worth reading for the gothic elements alone. It’s one of my favourite novels of all time. I love the story-within-a-story framing of it. Cathy is metal as hell and hilarious because of it. It’s impossible to take Cathy and Heathcliff seriously, because they take themselves way too seriously. If Emily Bronte lived today, she would have wrote the book while listening to My Chemical Romance or similar emo bands. Finally, I offer this quote from one of the early chapters to tempt you (translated poorly from the French, because my English copy is not to hand):
    “Ah, perhaps your favourites are among these, then?” I asked, gesturing at what seemed to be a pile of kittens on a cushion.

    “Strange choice of favourites!” she said scornfully.

    Unhappily, it was a pile of dead rabbits.

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