Usually one of the dubious pleasures of reading “I hate this book!” lists is the feeling of righteous anger you get from discovering that one of your own best-loved books is a target of the listmaker’s wrath. Anyone who hates on a Jane Austen novel, or Middlemarch, pisses me right off — and then I get to sit happily for a few moments and think about all the reasons why I love the book in question and why the misguided person who dislikes it is just wrong.
This list is a little different: it’s not about books the contributors to The Second Pass despise, it’s a list of books they would subtract from the canon if they could — a list of books that they don’t really feel are worth reading despite their status as great novels. And shockingly enough, I agree! With everything! (Okay, I haven’t read everything on the list, but the inclusion of books I have read and found underrated makes me think I’d agree about the others too.) Even the inclusion of a Woolf book, which would usually be enough to set me off. I love just about every bit of Woolf I’ve read with a hand-fluttery and passionate love, but I couldn’t make it through Jacob’s Room either.
The Second Pass list is also awesome because of this quote about Cormac McCarthy’s The Road:
He’s a writer who could make a casual brunch read like the end of the world, so when he’s actually writing about the end of the world, his grandiosity grows numbing.
Which doesn’t mean I won’t go watch the movie version for Viggo Mortensen, of course.
You can read the comments on The Second Pass post, which do indeed include some of the huffiness I was describing above, here.
Suggestions for well-known books to add to the not-worth-your-time list?