I had no idea what I wanted to write this week. I don’t call this writer’s block since you know I don’t believe in that (see last week’s post for details). Rather, I was uncertain what portion of my life I wanted to blurt out to the world this week. Then, as the cat meowed incessantly for his food while I still had 10 minutes to go before the alarm went off, I started thinking of books. I know, I know, I should think of more tantalizing things while in bed, but I really really like books.
As they say, “Life is too short for bad books.” They also say, “So many books, so little time.” If I was going to start a religion, those phrases would be the equivalent of my Hail Marys and Our Fathers. And, like any good religion, I would hope to save you from evil. Not from shapeless, made-up-to-make-you-feel-guilty evil, but books so bad they should be labeled as evil.
Once I had fully scoured your mind of evil (until the next temptation – aka, hyped up bestseller – came along), I would fill it with my own doctrine of beliefs, and by that I mean a list of super-fantabulous books I like (and therefore you should too).
So come join me (and feel free send donations to help me route out evil and promote goodness). These are the tomes of evil that, as a disciple of mine, you should avoid…
- The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – Okay, I’ll admit, I liked the puzzles, but anyone who plagiarizes THAT much should not be allowed to make millions from his book.
- The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer – Seriously, I mean really, this is totally bad writing. I know it’s intended for teenage girls, but there are so many other young adult books that are not only better written, but have a better message for girls than these wastes of paper and ink.
- 50 Shades of Grey by EL James – Yay, 50 shades of sexual abuse, topped off with page after page of horrible writing.
- Anything by Jasper Fforde – The titles of his books are so clever they made me sooooo want to read them. So I did. Many of them. I wish I could have those hours of my life back. I feel about the same for Gregory Maguire, so want to like his books, but…
- Saturday by Ian McEwan – I do love Ian McEwan (see below), but this book, ugh…the first 30 pages consist of the main character getting out of bed and getting dressed. I’m all for setting mood, but I wanted to stab my head by page 29.
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – I know, call me a literary heathen, but I hated this book when I read it in high school. I tried it again later in life and, yep, still hated it. It just bores the poo out of me. Ditto for Lord of the Flies.
- Anything by Nicholas Sparks – Let’s just cut to the chase, when an author uses the same plot line over and over, why keep buying his books? Buy one and read again and again.
- The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenerger – Let me preclude this by saying I really did love this book despite it’s sort of Lolita-like creepiness. The idea was fresh and well done…until at the very end the author tries to explain why the guy can time travel. Had she simply left out that part I wouldn’t add this to the evil list, but I read hundreds of pages only to be annoyed at the end. That earns you the stamp of Evil.
- The Testament by John Grisham – Alright, I pretty much don’t like anything by John Grisham (A Time to Kill is an exception, this book is quite good), but The Testament has to be the worst of the worst. It’s so bad, my dad wanted me to read it so I could see how bad it was. Um, gee, thanks Dad.
And now for something different…These books are filled with goodness. Okay, some of them deal with evil things, but the writing, story lines, characters, etc are all wonderful.
- The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling – Shut up! I know they’re kids books, but few books suck me in as quickly as these do. Plus, they’re so big they can also double as strength training equipment.
- Salem’s Lot by Stephen King – I’ll pretty much read any Stephen King book, but this has to be one of my favorites…plus, it’s nice and short, and super creepy (I’m getting spine tingles thinking about it). If you want a vampire book, skip Twilight and snag a copy of Salem’s Lot. Other favorites are Misery and the short stories in Everything’s Eventual.
- Fall of Giants by Ken Follett – A book has to be durn stinkin’ good to get me through 900 pages in only a couple weeks and this one did it. Also good: Pillars of the Earth.
- Fool by Christopher Moore – All of Moore’s books have a certain quirky humor about them that I love, but Fool is miles ahead of his other books as my favorite. And, it’s an adaptation of Shakespeare, so hey, it’s literary!
- Amsterdam by Ian McEwan – I wasn’t sure if I liked this book, but it was short so I kept reading it out of curiosity. The twist at the end was SO worth it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks after. Also good: Atonement.
- The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins – I don’t care how they’re marketed, these are not kids’ books…which is what I love. Dark themes, well-written settings and characters you root for. Love it. Still, don’t give it to kids, they will have nightmares!
- Almost Anything by Phillippa Gregory – Her books on the Tudors and the Cousins’ War books will have you so knowledgeable about English history you’ll be able to win on Jeopardy – no, really, I did get a Jeopardy answer right from reading one of her books. I always feel sad when I finish one of these books because I just want them to go on and on.
- The Hitchhiker Series by Douglas Adams – Snarky English humor and a trilogy of five books (six if you count Eoin Colfer’s addition), what could be better? If you can’t stand humorous sci-fi, then get a dose of Adams’s humor and wit with Last Chance to See, which ranks among my top favorite non-fiction books. 42.
- Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut – I know Breakfast of Champions is the classic, but I love Galapagos above all other Vonnegut books. But, really, I don’t think I’ve read anything by Vonnegut I didn’t like.
Remember, every time a bad book is printed, some precious forest-dwelling creature loses its home. You don’t want that on your conscience, do you? No. So go out and read good books. Or stay in and read good books, depending on the weather.