I have read few books in my life that I would categorize as evil. But I’m sure there are some people out there that are. And no, I don’t mean a necronomicon. Those are easy — those books you burn, and don’t even ask questions. No, I mean the type of books you need to take a shower over.
However, there are plenty of books I don’t finish. Many I don’t even start. Why? Because of some topics of subject matter that I didn’t know about in the first place.
I will never read books about child rape. Never. Period. Done. We’re finished. If it’s mentioned, like a footnote in the crimes of the perp, that’s one thing, but I will not sit through reading that.
I will never read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — yes, I’m told that the CHAPTER LONG RAPE SCENE is “soooo well written,” and I don’t care. Period. If it’s so important to the story that the readers need that much detail, screw that. I don’t need that in my head, I’m screwed up enough. Thanks.
Rape, and particularly child rape, will earn you a spot on my personal capitol punishment list. Meaning that I had better not be aware of you within my general vicinity. There’s no reason for me to read it.
We won’t even get into 50 Shades of Stupid. After all, who needs porn? Also, why did it have to be so badly written? Yes, take your pick over what offends me more, the porn or the bad writing. Though I have heard enough excerpts being read in funny little voices that at least tell me that the writing is at least hilariously bad.
There is, of course, crap writing. George RR Martin seems to spend so much time on snow and ice and dead people that I can’t bring myself to care about his work. And I tried. And I failed. Far as I’m concerned, save the world from Martin and run from it. I expect the series to end with everybody dead. In this case, that’s not evil, that’s just a one-trick pony. His plot only moves when it is lubricated by the bodies of his characters. There are friends who can predict when the next body falls to within five pages of the event. The only reason a lot of people seem to be reading the books is to see who the last one standing is.
And then there are books like Dan Brown. Message fiction. If you don’t believe me, (SPOILERS) the last Dan Brown, Inferno, ended with a third of the world being sterilized. And instead of our heroes doing something reasonable, like trying to stop it, our heroes shrug and go “Oh well, the bad guy was right, overpopulation is a threat to everybody. Screw these people.”
No, that’s not exactly how they put it, but that’s pretty much what I walked away with.
One book I finished in my youth was called MacTeague, something that film buffs would know of via the train wreck that was the 9-hour Eric von Strohiem film Greed. The premise was that a big dumb dentist fell in love with the girl his best friend has his eyes on. The best friend “magnanimously” allows the title doofus to marry the girl. The girl then wins the lotto (yes, really) and clings to every penny like Scrooge. It ends with the title character killing his wife for the cash, riding of into the desert, pursued by his former best friend (who’s interested only in the money).
The finale is the two of them, in the desert, with no water and no way out, still arguing about the money. All the while I could hear Indiana Jones from Temple of Doom, screaming “You, are going, to DIE.”
I think that was the second time in my life I wanted to fling a book across the room. Because the characters were both evil and stupid, all of whom you’d rather see die. And you wonder “Why did I just burn brain cells on all of this?”
Answer: Because it was assigned reading in high school.
Sadly, most of the crap books I had to finish were due to “education.”
Lord of the Flies and Catcher in the Rye are two books that I’m relatively certain that have added nothing to my life. Honestly, the first one was just literary Thomas Hobbes, and I’ve come to hate it even more after I earned my degree in philosophy. The other was whining narration from a teenager who had a nervous breakdown because he couldn’t handle becoming a grownup, and yes, things change.
As CS Lewis once put into the mouth of a demon, Screwtape, “Of course you can’t tempt your primary soul today, that field that protects him comes from reading a good book. You must stop him from doing that. You want him to read “important” books. Books that he’ll hate.”
So, do yourself a favor everyone. Go out, and read fun books. Books you’re going to enjoy. Because life is too short to read just because someone tells you “this book is important.”
Declan Finn is a Dragon Award nominated author. His “Catholic Vampire romance novels” can be found on his personal website. As well as all the other strange things he does.