Opinions about books are like blogs – everyone literate seems to have one. If you, like me, read blogs about books, peruse newspapers, and look forward each week to the book review section of the newspaper, you probably encounter many tips on what to read. Even if you read less than me you probably are constantly being bombarded with recommendations on what books and movies you should be checking out.
They can't all be feel-good page-turners of the decade, of course, nor can they be deep-thought book-stops. A discriminating reader needs an outlet, somehere to vent – and with that in mind, I hereby declare that The Book Stops Here.
What are some books that people — be they friends, colleagues, book reviewers, celebrities, your pastor, your pimp or your drug-dealing book-reviewing poet friend, etc — said you would love but you actually hated? What, for example, are some books you had to read for a class or a book discussion that you just absolutely detested?
Five books come to mind as I write this:
- The Life of Pi: Critics raved about it. Book clubs – including at least one I'm in – read it. But it annoyed the hell out of me. The writing style was awful. It was more new-agey than Deepak Chopka on a bad hair day. It. Just. Sucked.
- The Collectors: Okay, maybe "love" is too strong a word but this book immediately jumped onto the best-seller list and that means someone out there really likes the author and the books. But the writing was crap, the plot predictable and there was even a conspiracy nut character named, of course, Oliver Stone. If I hadn't previously arranged to interview the author I would have stopped at page 100, per my 100-page rule. (If, after 100 pages you have no further interest in the plot or the characters, than it's time to move on – too many books, not enough time, to read every good book out there.)
The only good thing about reading the book was that I was able to ask the author questions per the interview that included veiled insults and that provided some form of satisfaction.
At least when I read — and then wrote nasty reviews about — Tom Clancy's books (which also seems to be written by someone who is about as artful and subtle as a kick to the head) — I would increase my bicep muscles while holding the books.
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: I started and quit and started and quit that book at least ten times while in college. I started to think the problem was I was trying to read it while not high. Maybe it needs a warning label, i.e. "Do Not Attempt to Read This Unless Drunk Or High."
- Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead – I know some who love this author, Ayn Rand, and her ideas and theories, but to me it just sounds like a justification of selfishness. Yes, one should be able to rely on oneself but no man is an island (hey, that's catchy) and to pretend otherwise just rubs me the wrong way. Her books seem like way too-thinly veiled attempts to explain her beliefs in a fictionalized setting, which — and, yes, I hold this against her — have led to way too many others to do the same from the Celestine Prophecy (hated it!) to, well, the Book of Pi. And that brings us full circle so I'll stop there.