Monday, April 5, 2021

Ten Books I'd Gladly Throw Into the Ocean

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

I originally thought this week's topic was simply going to be another list of my lowest-rated books, but I realized that there are plenty of books I gave 1 or 2 stars to that I have no interest in angrily chucking into the ocean (or some other, more eco-friendly imaginary scenario). For example, Postern of Fate is an absolutely incomprehensible mess of a book, but I hold no rage about the fact that Agatha Christie's mind was mostly gone at the end of her life and her publisher knew people would still buy the book if they printed it. These books, however, bring up a visceral reaction in me when I see them, and I would get great satisfaction from sinking them down to the bottom of the ocean.
1. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
The intention behind this book was "It's not your fault if someone you love takes their own life," but the way Niven goes about that basically sends the message, "If you're suicidal, literally nothing anyone does will help in the end, but maybe your death can help someone else!" OMG NO NO NO NO.
2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
I know, I know, it's a "cult classic" and exemplifies the genre of "gonzo journalism" but from the perspective of the 21st century this just reads like two guys being super racist, sexist, and homophobic while doing a lot of drugs, causing immense property damage, running up bills they don't pay for, and terrorizing innocent people. In today's America, the fact that they got off with a warning after trying to outrun a cop with a car full of drugs isn't hilarious, it's just a screaming example of white privilege. No thank you.
3. A General Theory of Love by Dr. Thomas Lewis, Dr. Fari Amini, and Dr. Richard Lannon
This book was a collection of sweeping conclusions based on minimal evidence that in some cases could actually be harmful if their word is taken as gospel simply because they're three doctors. For example, they somehow extrapolate that because having zero interactions with a loving caregiver causes mammals to become dysfunctional or die, babies must need as much time as physically possible in direct contact with their biological mother. (Their father is apparently unimportant.) I do not think anyone should get advice about love from this book.
4. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne
If we leave aside for a second the ways that J.K. Rowling has turned out to be a trash human — she had the option to either stop after seven books and let the Harry Potter universe stand as it was or to write an actual eighth book with all of the nuance and thorough planning of the first seven. Instead, we got this "official" eighth Harry Potter book that is actually a play and written by someone else and reads mostly like fanfiction from someone who wanted to capitalize on Potter nostalgia but not take any risks outside of the existing universe. Can we steal a Time Turner and make this never happen?
5. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
It irritates me that this book is so beloved and frequently recommended. It basically centers on a guy who sexually assaults a bunch of people (including multiple teenage girls) and violently attacks a bunch of other people, and it's supposed to be stirring literature because there are historical events involved or something. I'm over it.
6. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
In this case, I would specifically like to throw the last 10% of this book in the ocean. The first 90% of the book is a beautifully written work about death and grief and relationships, albeit with some clich├ęs. Then Sebold inexplicably throws in a completely bizarre and problematic chapter that changes the entire tone of the book, and the whole thing goes downhill from there. I might not even be so angry if the rest of the book wasn't so good, but it's like she decided to light the whole thing on fire for no reason!
7. The Millionaire Next Door by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley and Dr. Williams D. Danko
I picked up this book for the interesting statistics on how "real" millionaires spend their money vs. the people who spend all their money to appear rich to others. However, what I got was the message that you should live really frugally so that you can amass a huge fortune (with specific dollar amounts included), you shouldn't spend the money on your kids because they'll become dependent, and then you should donate your money before you die so the government doesn't get it. What kind of life is that? I much prefer I Will Teach You to Be Rich, where the philosophy is that you decide what gives your life value and then intentionally plan your saving and spending around that.
8. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
I was so happy to see that someone had written a book with an intersex protagonist, but then it turned out the actual book was a poorly written, predictable, transphobic, intersexphobic, slur-filled pile of garbage that is now, unfortunately, the go-to book for people to learn about intersex conditions. Grrrr.
9. Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill
As a long-time member of Q Christian Fellowship, I have LGBTQ+ Christian friends who are in committed same-gender relationships as well as LGBTQ+ Christian friends who have chosen celibacy, and I have frequently heard this book mentioned as the book to explain the latter approach. Unfortunately, unlike my friends' very thoughtful and beautiful explanations of their calls to celibacy, Hill does not have a positive spin to share on celibacy. He instead makes a surface-level argument for why the Bible requires this of gay people, and then basically talks about how lonely and miserable he is but that he has to deal with it. It upset me that this is held up as the exemplar of gay celibacy when there are so many more nuanced and affirming perspectives out there (not to mention how this aligns perfectly with those who want to weaponize the Bible to force celibacy on all gay people).
10. The Younger Gods by David and Leigh Eddings
This was the last book of the Eddingses' last series, and it was awful. It takes everything that happens in the rest of the series and throws it all away with a plot that makes no sense at all. It would have been bad enough as a standalone, but after reading hundreds of pages about these characters and getting invested in their story, it was infuriating to have it all undone with this last mess of a book.

Which books would you throw in the ocean?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: The Sea of Tranquility, The Left Hand of Darkness, V for Vendetta, and Paradise Lost
Five years ago I was reading: Ragtime, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and A People's History of the United States
Ten years ago I was reading: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

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