Written off

In the most recent episode of The Readers, "Episode 95: Catching Up on Rather a Lot & Classic Literature," hosts Simon and Thomas asked each other about classic authors and books they'd tried and given up. I immediately thought of a few that I have written off in the past. This list of authors is, of course, wildly biased, and based on my own personal tastes and preferences.

Nope. Nope, nope, nope.
I won't read*:
  1. James Joyce...because I'm pretty sure Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake are pranks.
  2. Marcel Proust...because get bored just reading about Proust. 
  3. Ernest Hemingway...because I couldn't relate to anyone in the two books I read by Hemingway. They are men's books, but they didn't explain men.
  4. Virginia Woolf...because stream of consciousness drives me mental.
  5. William Faulkner...because of the stream of consciousness malarky.
  6. John Updike...because white dude's problems.
  7. Philip Roth...because white dude's problems and masturbation.
  8. Salman Rushdie...because I've found most of his books too weird to get into. I have a high tolerance for weirdness, but jeez.
  9. Sylvia Plath...because the thought of spending time in her head scares the hell out of me.
  10. J.D. Salinger...because I still think Holden Caulfield is a punk.
There are many classic writers, past and present, that I just haven't gotten around to yet. I plan do. I plan to read Ralph Ellison and Toni Morrison and Joseph Heller and Fyodor Dostoevsky. But my life is too short—and I'm not in a literature program—to spend time on literature I know I won't like without someone to help me read my way into it.


* ...unless someone can recommend a book by these authors that will change my mind.


  1. I don't really consider myself a man-book reader, but I do like Hemingway. Faulkner is impenetrable to me. I really liked The Plot Against America, but I really don't like Roth otherwise. I forced myself to read Midnight's Children by Rushdie, while I found it difficult, I ended up glad that I read it. Dostoevsky is enjoyable. Joseph Heller...Catch 22 was good until about half way through, then I just wanted to throw it at the wall.

  2. Why do you like Hemingway?

    I read Midnight's Children, too, just so that I could experience Rushdie enough to have an intelligent opinion of his work. I tried The Satanic Verses, but the first chapter was so demented I couldn't get through it.

    Catch-22 I liked because I'm a fan of the absurd.

  3. Also, thank you for commenting, Thomas. I've been listening to The Readers for a month or so now and I'm a big fan of you and Simon.


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