by Drew Magary
When I was in school, I was forced to read any number of books that I hated. By this method, schools do a pretty solid job of turning off many kids from reading for good. God forbid you should read anything “fun,” or “readable,” or “not boring and shitty.” No, no: It’s a steady diet of Johnny Tremain and opaque Toni Morrison novels for you. Your assignment tonight is to read 70 pages of Song of Solomon, or slit your wrists and never come back to school. LEARNING.
Everyone has a classic book, one that’s adored by English teachers and hipsters the world over, that they can’t stand. I don’t think you should feel guilty about it. I don’t think you should be forced year after year to sit in silence while other people rhapsodize about a classic book you secretly despised. Here are three such books I never want to see again.
THE GREAT GATSBY
Not only did this book cause people to think that rich people are interesting (they aren’t), it essentially created the entire modern “white people problems” class of novel that still persists to this day. OOOOH, LOOGIT ME! I’M JAY GATSBY AND I’M FILTHY RICH AND I THROW HUGE PARTIES BUT MY HEART STILL ACHES FOR THE ONE GIRL I CAN’T BANG! Way to go, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Way to cause every rich Ivy League douchebag out there to throw white parties and drive while shit-faced. I hate you. Did you know that Baz Luhrmann is making a movie out of this, and that it’s going to be in 3D? And that it’s going to be fucking horrible? There is nothing good about a book that inspires the Moulin Rouge! guy to make a movie no one wanted in a format no one likes. I bet it features a six-minute musical number, because Baz Luhrmann is a shithead.
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
There are paragraphs in this book that go on for DAYS. In fact, that seems like a staple or any and all Russian literature: NO PARAGRAPH BREAKS. Just an endless march through a literary gulag, with no stops for water or peepeeing. God forbid Dostoyevsky ever bother to hit the carriage return. No, no. Wouldn’t want to let the reader off easy like that. No, best to write paragraphs that are 10,000 words long, so that your eyes aren’t allowed to blink and re-moisten for 20 minutes at a time, until you just wanna find an old woman and bury an ax into her head. Let my eyes BREATHE, dick. When I was in school, everyone referred to books like this as “eating cement.” These are books that you have to sit there and just will yourself to digest, taking in page after goddamn page without remembering one single thing that you had just read. Oh, I tried absorbing the book. I really did. And when my teacher asked me a question about it and I gave him a blank stare because all that shit went over my head, it wasn’t because I had failed to read the book. I read it. Honest to God. But I took in NONE of it. They may as well have left it in the original Russian for me to read. And you know what? I just looked at an excerpt of it today for this piece and I still begin glazing over the words after two sentences.
Why wasn’t Bilbo the one who killed the dragon? I spent hundreds of pages waiting for Bilbo to get to kill the dragon, and then what happens? Some random-ass Bard does the deed. From out of nowhere! What the fuck? Then everyone fights over the dragon’s estate, like it’s a goddamn episode of “Dallas” or something. Total bullshit. This is why we have Peter Jackson: To make these stories better. I don’t give a shit about the bureaucratic difficulties of an imaginary realm. THAT ISN’T THE FANTASY I HAD IN MIND.