Here’s a meme that is a little bit different from the usual sorts because it is a negative meme. I usually celebrate all the wonderful books I read and review on my blog, but there are some books that I wish I had never invested the time into finishing. In spite of my “100 page rule” where I stop reading a book at page 100 if I still dislike it at that point, I sometimes finish books that I really really wish I had simply “lost” on the subway when I had the chance (I think “rehoming” books is the correct way to deal with those that I don’t like). Below the fold are some of those books that I read in 2008;
Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art by Gene Wilder. I have loved Gene Wilder ever since I was a kid when I first saw his delightful film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, that starred Gene Wilder as the eccentric candymaker. However, this book opened my eyes to all the things I wish I had never known about him: his inarticulateness, lack of intelligence and selfishness.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. This is a retelling of a rape, torture and murder of a child, told from the point of view of the child’s ghost. That premise alone made the book really stupid in my opinion, but the writing makes this story just really .. ridiculous. I think the book would have been far more interesting if told from one of the parent’s points of view, or from the point of view of a shrink for either the parents or one of the detectives — the point of view of a peripherally involved person who can present a coherent story as well as an analysis of the people affected by the events depicted in this story.
Sixty Days And Counting by Kim Stanley Robinson. This book is the third in a trilogy that I read and reviewed on my blog. The other books were somewhat stupid, but seemed to have potential, so I finished it. But this book transformed the entire trilogy into a big cesspool of wasted time. Worse, the author used this last book to simply poke fun at people in general, and scientists in particular — how far would his readers follow him into his absolutely stupid, ridiculous worldview? Read my review of this crappy book.
Freaks of Nature: What Anomalies Tell Us About Development and Evolution by Mark S. Blumberg. This book describes people and animals that are physically deformed and uses them as examples of how basic developmental programs gone wrong and how adapting to these birth defects reveals evolutionary flexibility. The premise is interesting but the book is so disorganized and inconsistently written that the premise is lost. This book reminds me of a Barnum & Bailey Circus without all the cute animals and odd people.
Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education by David Kirp. I am cheating by listing this book because I have not yet finished it. I am still struggling my way through it, under the impression that there is an important revelation (or solution) to be found here, but unfortunately, I have not yet found it. Them. Or maybe I did find it but it was obscured by the astonishingly impenetrable prose. I am a very well-read person and I read a variety of genres, so I think few will argue with me when I say that this book was written and published as a cure for insomnia.
Tell me what books do you wish you had never read?