I'm all for positivity and all that hype (really?), just not today. Today I'm all about a list. A list of books you should never touch, but I have read. Doing my part for the well-being of mankind?
I love bad books. I just do. I love a good rant about something that hasn't really gotten to me that badly. If I want to bash a book, I have to read it, so there will be no bashing of such classics as The Secret, because I just can't bring myself to even touch it at the bookstore. Also, there are some books that I think are bad, but that I have a weird love-to-hate-them/ hate-to-love-them relationship with, such as the vampire love saga currently in vogue (don't judge me, please). And then there are other works, granted none too many, that were so horrible or disgusting that I was forced, lest I puke, to put them aside and not finish.
But enough about vomit.
I will now attempt to give you my all time top four of books you shouldn't touch with a stick, accompanied by my random reasons as to why I think you shouldn't even pick up the stick in the first place.
1. Leap of Faith by Queen Noor
2. Mary Called Magdalene by Margaret George
3. Fanie Fourie's Lobola by Nape 'a Motana
4. The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
Now, none of these books are books that I personally wouldn't touch with a stick to begin with. These are no 'beach' or 'airplane'. These are all books meant to be good, enlightening, and at first glance enticing to a book snob who gives any Marian Keyes or Nora Roberts a wide berth. Some of these were huge bestsellers.
But let me state my reasons, other than 'puke'.
The first two, Leap of Faith and Mary Called Magdalene, were not reads I chose out of my free will. Two different book clubs voted to choose these pieces of 'literature'. I might have been sick when they decided on Leap, since I don't remember making a huge ruckus about my innate hate of memoirs (this might shift a little though, I LOVED What is the What by Dave Eggers, but it's still so fiction-y), and I know for sure I wasn't there when the other book club decided on Mary. I. Would. Have. Said. Something.
The book club I read Leap for was my favorite one - one of those groups of people who are capable of good (mostly literature-related) discussions, of making good coffee and food at the meetings (Yup. That's, like, half of a good book club), and of picking interesting books to be read. I sorely miss them and the discussions (and yes, the Mexican food). Luckily most of the members in this club hated Leap as much as I did, and in the end no one would completely admit to recommending the book. It was just so... one-sided, and you couldn't even hold the book without getting the stench of agenda all over you. And the parts that were meant to make it reek less like a political move (definitely made by someone else than the Queen herself) were just excruciating. I would quote here, but the book was in a charity bag before I could utter the words 'memoiry shit'.
The second book club was a rather more surreal experience. The discussion of Mary, that I had indeed read in its entirety, all of the 900+ pages, was to be my first meeting. I rode to the meeting with a friend, her first time as well, and already in the car we discussed the horror that was this 'historical' novel. She hadn't read the whole book, she simply said she couldn't finish, or really even begin for that matter.
We arrived at the meeting, and after having awesome food and wine (the silver lining), to my absolute amazement, as we went around the room, the regular members said they had rather enjoyed the book and no one had absolutely hated it. The main complaint seemed to be the length. What? Did I just slip into a parallel universe, or had I perhaps read a completely different book? They couldn't mean it!
And then the person, who had recommended the book took out her enormous Bible.
The rest of the discussion unfolded through her showing us on the map in her good book just where Hey Zeus did what, when, and how, and then, as always happens when I feel surrounded by too much oppressive religion (nothing wrong with religion per se, just don't like being force-fed anything), I felt the need to reveal my atheism, only to be met with a drawn-out "So what do you believe in then? Nothing? Really?" for an hour or so, at the end of which I was definitely going to hell. Poor me.
The book, it turned out was never meant to be discussed for it's literary merits (or in this case the severe lack of them), but as a depiction of Mary Magdalene's life. Silly me for thinking the book was a tedious, and unimaginative fictional work that lacked an author who could transform a few obscure mentions of a woman into a fascinating tale of a potentially extraordinary life. Hmph.
I never went back to that book club. The members were nice and all ('cept for condemning me to hell), we were just never meant to have that dreaded religion discussion, and I never could fully forgive them for making me read this book without letting me rant, I mean discuss, about it.
Fanie Fourie's Lobola is one of my all time biggest haterites. It is written by a South African, whose wife and children I greatly pity, and frankly am a little afraid for. This book is supposedly about a courtship between a South African boer and a black woman and their subsequent wedding. The back cover exclaims that "this is a book about love which will capture many hearts" (Dr. Wangui wa Goro). Of love?!?! More like rape. The most horrifying aspect of this South African book is that in a culture where rape is a humongous issue and an everyday threat for many, many women and girls, the author manages to equate love with rape and make it known that even if a girl says no and runs away she just does not mean it. Oh, and if you drive a BMW she is just waiting for you to come and take (rape) her, since all women are just objects to be used. Ugh.
As I was buying this book at Exclusive Books the clerk, a woman nonetheless, told me how funny the book was and how much I would enjoy it. I also worry about her now.
The last book on my list is the one I realize will perhaps make you wonder about my sanity. I know. Some of you might absolutely have loved it, and I promise I won't judge, too harshly. Okay, I will, but that's how I am.
So what is wrong with The Alchemist now? Well, my main gripe is that I just cannot stand it when the author does not allow for me to come to my own realizations. In Finnish you would say that the author was 'twisting it out of wire for you' and in Danish that he was 'cutting it out of cardboard', i.e. that he was making his preferred interpretation of his text so painfully obvious that you are not able to assign any other meanings to it, you are left with not your own, but his dialogue with the text. And to me, that is just a recipe of a bad, bad book. Uhuh, I am one of those 'Death of the Author' weirdos.
Okay. I have only attacked two of the major forces in the universe: religion and Coelho. Not too bad for a Sunday.
What is your haterite fictional book in the world?