Photo credit: The Avocado
On Friday Steve suggested a book be used for a doorstop that Clyde needed. My very first thought was Ulysses. I was an English major at Carleton and there were two infamous lists. One was the short list – about 100 titles that you’d better have read before your comprehensives at the end of your senior year. Then there was the long list – this was about 500 titles – that the English department thought you should read if you wanted to be truly well-read. I know, I know, incredibly presumptuous. I got copies of these lists in my sophomore year and kept them for years. As you can imagine, Ulysses was on that list and while most of my brain knows there is no reason I have to read this, a little bit still thinks that I should wade through Joyce.
Three years ago when I started getting rid of excess stuff, I realized I had THREE copies of Ulysses. Unfortunately for Clyde’s needs, I got rid of all of them, along with most of the guilt that I never could get through the first chapter, much less any farther.
But it made me think about what other books I could imagine consigned to doorstop-hood. I pulled up my reading list to look for 1-star titles that I wouldn’t mind using to keep a door open. I started keeping this list in 2007 but didn’t start assigning stars until 2013. I actually don’t have too many two-star titles, and next to no one-star ratings (it’s a 1-5 rating). Life is too short – if a book isn’t shaping up, it goes back to the library (or if I actually purchased it, on a pile to be donated to the library).
I do have a few one-stars, but they bring up a secondary problem… I don’t actually remember all of them. So here’s a short list of my one-star doorstop recommendations:
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (not even a whiff of memory about this one)
- The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (I know that tim loved this one, but it didn’t have enough surrealism to support an unbelievable plot)
- Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. I kinda liked the first few and I do like the Hallmark movies made from the series, but this one stunk and the main character stepped over so many lines (moral AND legal) that I couldn’t believe it.
- Man in the High Castle by Philip Dick. You all know I love alternate-reality future stories but this one did NOT satisfy. Several concurrent stories, which did not ever intersect, did not wrap up in any meaninful way and one that jut didn’t make sense. (And in looking at the reviews of the tv series, they pretty much didn’t use 95% of the book.)
- And then my one and only negative star title… Swamplandia by Karen Russell. I only finished this because it was a book club title. Unbelievable set-up, unlike-able characters, tragic outcome and ending that could not happen in anybody’s reality. There are actually good reviews of this book, but I can only say that hallucinogenics must have been involved.
Any nominees for a door stop?