The never ever book

What is it with you Americans? You keep suggesting I challenge my readers with something or other. But thanks Laurie for the idea. Out of the top 100 books, which one would you never read? The Resident IT Consultant said without hesitating that it’d have to be Ulysses.

Well, it might have been for me, had I not had ideas beyond my capabilities thirty years ago. I decided it’d sound good to be able to say, casually of course, that I’d read Ulysses. Felt it would be hard work, but it would be sort of slowly putting one foot in front of the other and keep at it for a very long time.

I lasted a page. Or was it two? Whatever. Ulysses can’t go down as my never book.

It’ll have to be The Da Vinci Code.

6 responses to “The never ever book

  1. Love that title: “The Never Ever Book”.

    Choosing not to read a book at all because of simple prejudice and better still being under no obligation to continue reading books that just aren’t appealing : these options have to be among the few reasons it is better to be old and out of school (ha! offspring!–you may be forced to read James Fenimore Cooper one day, but not me!).

    Topping my Never Ever list is The Lovely Bones. I’ve read enough about it that I think I could live happily without it. I could be wrong. A close second is The Five People You Meet In Heaven. The title alone makes me groan.

    Now what to call my other list (i.e. the tried it, hated it, never again list)? This is my most crowded list, and features many of the American books: Catcher in the Rye, Confederacy of Dunces, Color Purple, and Charlotte’s Web (I just never could get that book) vie for top placement.

    Then there’s the I-read-it-but-only-because-I -had-to list, topped by Of Mice and Men.

    And then there’s the wasn’t-that-a-movie list which holds at least half of the 100.

    Now tell me, seriously, is every bedside table in England sagging under the weight of all those Jane Austen novels people claim to read? On the Tube is the person on my left likely to be deeply into Pride &Prejudice while the one on my right sighs with contentment as she reads Sense & Sensibility? Really?

  2. Well, I guess Ulysses would be up there, although I did once write about the Tennyson poem of the same title in an exam. Otherwise I’d probably plump for War and Peace…

  3. The whole of Tolkien….and Ulysses certainly would never get me to open it. But funnily enough, Laurie’s books are some that I’ve loved. Catcher in the Rye, Confederacy of Dunces and that masterpiece, Charlotte’s Web!! BTW, if you don’t like Catcher in the Rye, read a book called KING DORK by Frank Portman, coming here in May from Puffin. It’s terrific.

  4. Which would I never ever read? There’s a good many that I gave up on after a chapter or so, including Catcher in the Rye. It’s not very likely that I will start reading Ulysses soon but I did listen to the first volume of Proust on audiotape recently, enjoyed it, rather to my surprise, and could imagine at least starting to do something similar with Joyce.

    I’ve never read, and can’t ever envisage reading, the Faraway Tree, On The Road and Lolita.

    Laurie asks whether everybody in England really reads so much Austen. I was made to read Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre at school (in Scotland!) and rather enjoyed them. I suspect this was due to a combination of the enthusiasm of my English teacher (who also introduced me to Tolkien!) and being at an impressionable age (about 14). A high proportion of the books in the list are standard English Literature texts (at least in Britain) and I suspect engage (or used to engage) teenage minds at their most vulnerable.

    Is it the downside of the development of more challenging children’s and young person’s literature that teenagers are less likely to engage in the classics?

  5. Here’s a column by Philip Hensher from The Independent called “Great books and stupid readers ” about a poll of 4000 adult readers on the books they buy and never finish reading.

    Unfortunately, he doesn’t mention the source of this poll he discusses. I shall look for it, but does anyone know off-hand where it appeared?

    http://comment.independent.co.uk/columnists_a_l/philip_hensher/article2352797.ece

  6. Pingback: The never ever books | Bookwitch

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