Top Ten Tuesdays is a meme currently being run by the blog That Artsy Reader Girl. Put simply each Tuesday has a theme assigned to it and participating blogs have to come up with a top ten list around it. The theme this week is Books I’d gladly throw into the ocean.
It was harder than I thought, to come up with ten books, as I was trying to pick ones I strongly disliked, rather than just more middling books. In the end the books in my list were included for one or more of the following reasons:
- Extreme boredom, to the point that it almost hurts your brain to keep reading. The type of book where upon completing it, you think to yourself that that is X number of hours of your life that you are not getting back.
- A central character who is incredibly annoying.
- Unpleasant elements in the book which leave your brain feeling like it has eaten something highly disagreeable.
- A difficult read, in a highly irritating way, not a satisfyingly challenging sort of way.
- For non-fiction books specifically: Line of argument is poorly built upon factual errors, distortive personal bias and/or discusses the topic in question in such a way that it undermines the very premise it was trying to argue.
1. Crime Fiction: A Very Short Introduction (2015) by Richard Bradford (This book seems to be written by someone who doesn’t actually like crime fiction bar the odd American author. There are a lot of errors in the text too, which have been listed in a CADs magazine review by Geoff Bradley, but let’s put this way, the author puts Miss Marple into The Murder of Roger Ackroyd…)
2. Confessions (1782) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (This was a book I had to read whilst doing my degree. It is painfully long and Rousseau’s life and his endless philosophical musings on it are incredibly dull. And yes he is so annoying!)
3. Deadlier Than the Male: An Investigation into Feminine Crime Writing (1981) by Jessica Mann (This is another non-fiction book, which I have reviewed in two parts which you can find by clicking here and here. A consistent weakness of this book was the fact it undermined its’ own argument and never successfully answered the questions it set out to.)
4. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (2008) by Kate Summerscale (I know this book was very popular when it came out, (though Oxfam was inundated with copies for quite a while afterwards), but I found the attempts to blend non-fiction prose with a dramatic retelling of events not very effective.)
5. The Riddle of the Sands (1903) by Erskine Childers (If you love nautical details then this is the book for you. If not, like me, then this story is a form of torture. Dull is an understatement!)
6. The Execution of Justice by Friedrich Durrenmatt (I found this book to be one of those interesting combinations of incredibly boring, followed by a highly unpleasant ending.)
7. French Farce (1936) by Edwin Greenwood (This book holds the title of being the only mystery novel which has nearly made me throw up! Never have meal scenes been quite so nauseating!)
8. Crime and Punishment (1866) by Fyodor Dostoevsky (My original review for this one on Goodreads is rather brief: It was a punishment to read and a crime it was ever written! Perhaps a slightly exaggerative review, but it captures my feelings about this one well. This book definitely falls foul of the annoying character criterion, as well as the painfully long and boring one.)
9. Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce (This is another university degree read and when putting this list together, there were quite a few texts from this period of my life which could have joined this selection of 10. But I felt this one definitely deserved to be included, as it was a blight upon one of my summer holidays. It is not just the fact that it is ridiculously long and highly uninteresting, but Joyce just goes out of his way to make reading it difficult. This is the only book which I needed to buy the Cliff Notes for, primarily to check that I had deciphered what happened in each chapter as I read it. I decided to read a chapter a day, which was fine until I got to one of the chapters which was around 150 pages long. Not only that but this chapter charts the history of the English language, beginning with Anglo Saxon and ending with 1920s American speakeasy slang. The final chapter of the book was around 40 pages long and only had about 8 full stops. Need I say more?)
10.The Face on the Cutting Room Floor (1937) by Cameron McCabe (Despite this title being well-known as a mystery which experiments with the genre and bends the rules, the end result is surprisingly boring and long-winded. This is also another book where I struggled to figure out what on earth was going on, not because the author was being delightfully cunning with red herrings, but because their approach to mystification rendered the narrative incoherent.)
I was tempted to consign the entire works of Freeman Wills Crofts and R Austin Freeman in to the ocean, but relented when I realised that JJ would have nothing left to read! Michael Innes was another contender for the list, but it was too difficult to just pick one of his books to include.
So over to you, which books would you quite like to lob into the ocean?