Giant Literary List 3
Books My Teacher Made Me read That Made Me Question the Value of My Education
María Amparo Ruiz de Burton's Who Would Have Thought It?, a civil-war era sentimental novel, was a ponderous mess of a book, redeemed only by its cultural politics.
Books That Made Me Want to Have Sex with at Least One Character
Though some people I can think of would hate me for this, I am going to have to cop to finding Lovelace (Richardson's Clarissa), or at least his style, pretty damned seductive. Septimus Hodge in Stoppard's Arcadia is also hot.
Books I Actually Read but Got a Poorer Grade on the Paper I Wrote on the Subject Than My Best Friend Who Did Not Read the Book
It's possible that my friends who didn't read the book were unwilling to talk to me about that fact, but as far as I know, this never happened to me.
Books I Read Because the Author Looked Hot
I may have picked up the first Miéville book at least in part because of his picture.
Books I've Read Aloud
I do this a lot with poetry and dense philosophy. It helps me slow down my reading. So, let's see... I read much of The Prelude out loud, all of Don Juan out loud, a bunch of Adorno and Heidegger out loud, some Kant (it didn't help comprehension there). These days, my honey and I are working through the complete Shelley out loud.
Books I Love Even Though the Last Twenty Pages Made No Damn Sense
The canonical example of this phenomenon is everything by Neal Stephenson, most particularly Snow Crash.
Books I Have Written a Prequel/Sequel to in My Own Head
Sabatini's Captain Blood! (Yes, I know he wrote his own sequels, but I haven't found any of them to read yet.)
Books I Keep Meaning to Read, but Then I See Something Shiny
I'm going to regret admitting this, but Walden. I even have a beautiful authoritive edition (ed. J. Cramer) that I shelled out a heap of money for.
Books I Will Go to the Mattresses for, Even Though I Hate the Writer
Even after all he's done to demolish his literary reputation, I still really love Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and A Planet Called Treason, weird and problematic as they are. As misogynist and terroristic as his novels were, I love Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, which is just flat-out beautiful. What else? I'm sure there are a lot of books I'd defend against their authors.
Books You Must Read Because You Must Mock
Even with the most mockable books, I... wait, no: Dan Brown's Angels and Demons is a truly awful book. His Digital Fortress is even worse, but it's just sad; Angels and Demons has a bestselling exuberant awfulness that makes it ok to mock.
Worst How-To Books Ever
I've read a few bad guides to oil painting, but I'm not holding any grudges.
Books That Were on the 'To Be Read' List the Longest
Gravity's Rainbow. I decided at some point to take it off my to-read list and to hope that someday I'd simply run across it and want to read it without being prompted.
Books I Hated Having to Read in School, But Love Now
L'Etranger. As a fifteen year-old Mormon, I did not understand what this book was supposed to be about.
Books Whose References Have Worked Their Way into My Household Lexicon
In Great Expectations, Pip's aunt periodically goes on a "ram-page" to clean up the house and everything in it.
Books I've Never Read But Have Read the Cliffnotes Version
I've never read a Cliffnotes version of anything.
Books I've Read Because I Liked Their Cover Design/Font
I'm sure I choose books based on their cover design (not fonts, though), but nothing is coming to mind. If I did it too often, I'd own many more Vintage Books editions than I do. HOWEVER! If anyone reading this works in the publishing industry, could you convince people to stop using cover designs that look like that awful Jonathan Safran Foer book? It's getting out of hand.
Books Which, When It Comes Right Down to It, I Would Have No Problem Burning
The most recent Orson Scott Card book, Empire, comes awfully close to that fell standard. I actually brought it home from the library for chuckles. Within ten pages I was just bored.
Books Which I Read Only for the Sex Scenes
There's an entire novel around the famous gardener scene in Lady Chatterley's Lover? Huh.
Books I Pretend to Like So People Won't Think I'm a Snob, or Books I Pretend to Like So I Won't Hurt Your Feelings
I finally thought of one! The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo. That reminds me of another one! Le Petit Prince. Both of these books have a sentimental place in many people's hearts, and admitting that I find them trite would be like calling somebody's baby ugly.
Books with Covers So Embarrassing You Can't Read Them in Public
A fair amount of SF and Fantasy has just laughable cover art. One that's coming to mind is Dan Simmons's Hyperion---though, looking at the image now, I've certainly seen a lot worse. Recently I've been carrying around on subways The Penguin Book of Erotic Stories by Women, which features a Renaissance painting of a bare-torsoed woman whose nipple is being pinched by a mysterious hand. That's a little embarrassing.
Books You Are Sorry You Didn't Read Decades Ago
That's difficult to answer. I often have that feeling of "Oh! At last!" when I read something really great. On the other hand, some books, like most of Kerouac and Salinger, I've read and thought: "Hm, perhaps I'm too old to appreciate this in the same way other people did."