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Thursday, February 4, 2010

3 Books to Burn

For the most part, reading is an exercise that we all do too little of. The world of multimedia has rendered the world's oldest media nearly obsolete, and the time investment involved in reading anything longer than 144 characters to be an imposition of overwhelming proportion - especially to the youngest generations. As evidenced by my own New Years resolution - we should all endeavor to resist the temptation of short form, or even micro form, prose and pick up a damned book. And though, as a media, books have fewer bits of outright brain rot than any other form, there are some books that you should avoid. There are some books that will actually make you dumber; some books that you would do better to not read anything than to indulge in; some books that, in contravention of one of my oldest held beliefs, should be collected and burned: three best-selling books that will kill more brain cells than they build
  1. Going Rogue by Sarah Palin - First off, this is not an indictment of any conservative tome. Though I have a fundamental problem (especially as a registered Republican) with the direction of the modern GOP, there are some brilliant minds (inexplicably) at work in the party, and they have produced some thoughtful and well-crafted prose. Rest assured, however, that none of it is in here. This thing is like a jingoistic, moral-majority version of Lake Wobegone, dumbed down so that her entire constituency can read it.

  2. Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard - Ever wonder what might happen if bad science fiction met up with cult religion? Well, you don't need to, because it happened a long time ago. In fact, it's grown into a world-wide movement whose basic tenets are so absurd that it makes burning bushes and salvation via weekly confessions look like particle physics. What is particularly horrifying about this pseudo-spiritual smut is how seriously it takes itself (which may explain its propensity for swallowing up small minds). On the upside, this may be the only religious book you can read that won't turn you into a Republican.

  3. Twilight (and any of its sequels) by Stephenie Meyer - Okay, I'll be honest, I made this list mostly so I could include this in it. These books are to books what Britney Spears is to music. Sure, you can like it privately, but (a) telling your friends you do will make them respect you less, (b) doing it in public will make people think you're an idiot, and (c) yes, you have the artistic taste of a thirteen-year-old girl. Listen, I get that a little fantasy is good for the soul. Hell, even I read a Harry Potter book. But this ill-fated collision of trashy romance and teen angst is as poorly executed as it is imagined. This may be the only thing you can do that's worse for your brain than watching daytime television.
In truth, I'm not advocating book burning any more than I'm actually going to actually slap the do-rags off the meat-chodes I see at the gym. But it pains me to see one of the last great intellectual exercises left in the world get bastardized by the sort of garbage which seems to make it to the best-seller list more and more often these days. I can forgive the reading proclivities of young people much more easily than I can forgive their fashion choices and propensity for street racing economy cars; but I am not as magnanimous towards adults. So for you grown-ups, do me a favor, pick up a Pulitzer book and see what your missing... and leave the trash on the shelf to do the only thing its good for: rotting.

4 comments:

Jen and Tonic said...

(4) Anything by Ann Coulter

(5) Anything by RER

Outstanding. I would glady read the first two books over the last one. I just can't get down with sparkly vampires.

Karen Soltero said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Montserrat said...

First, not all romance is "trashy". There are some great books in the romance novel genre. Second, I read Twilight and I liked it...:-)

I do have issues with the huge age and experience difference between hero and heroine. And I'm not sure about the hero's morals.

colin.joost said...

QUOTE: "...it pains me to see one of the last great intellectual exercises left in the world get bastardized by the sort of garbage which seems to make it to the best-seller list more and more often these days."

I agree with the author, these books are bogglingly stupid. However I don't think that garbage is selling more and more these days. There have always been good and bad and terrible books. The really good ones become classics, the really bad ones get forgotten (hopefully). The important thing is that while Stephanie Meyer writes a stupid book, someone out there is writing a classic and couldn't care less about Twilight.

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