Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top Ten Books (and book types) Everyone Else Has Read But Me. (At least that's how I feel.)

Top Ten Tuesday is the weekly meme hosted by the gals at THE BROKE AND THE BOOKISH. Every week there's a different theme and this week it's those pesky books everyone else in the world seems to have read but I HAVEN'T. Don't forget to check this link to see what other books other bloggers are dishing about today.

Before I begin, let me quote Emerson once again: No two people read the same book.



1) MADAME BOVARY by Gustave Flaubert.

I've seen several good movies based on the book so I feel as if I'm very familiar with the story. Happy, it is not.  Never liked the main character though I think I understand her. The book is considered a masterpiece, I know - but, for whatever reason, has never tempted me. Death by arsenic in the end? Ghastly. No thanks.

2) LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R. Tolkien

I know I should read this series. My friends have read it and loved it. I keep meaning to pick it up. Really. But after watching the four films and being exhausted by them, I think I might want to not read the books until the films' aura has faded. And now there's a version of THE HOBBIT being filmed by Peter Jackson even as we speak. I may stay exhausted for a while longer.

3) Books by Jodi Picoult.

Her fans are legion, my own daughter included, but...I think of these books as 'Book Club Books' and that's a major negative for me. I was never a big fan of Oprah's book choices because most of them were essentially the same triumph-and-tragedy story of a woman struggling to overcome odds. Been there. Done that. Or perhaps I should say, Been there, read that. A hundred times. Especially in my formative years. Don't need to read any more unless it's told in a new and unique way.

I have a suspicion that there are authors working right now (mostly women writers) who specialize in Book Club Books - the sorts of things that will appeal to the common denominator of women sitting around in coffee klatches. No offense meant to anyone, I sit around in coffee klatches once in a while myself. Just don't like to make a habit of discussing what is essentially the same sort of women-overcoming-great-odds-story again and again.

4) CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I'm sorry. I can't. I've read some Russian writers here and there and enjoyed their books. But I am so sure I would NOT enjoy CRIME AND PUNISHMENT - just listening to the grim synopsis makes me break out in hives.

5) MARLEY AND ME by John Grogan

Can't read a whole book about a dog who dies at the end. Just can't. One of the first things I do when picking up a book about a dog is read the ending. Dead dog in the end means the book will stay unread.. I put it back on the shelf with a shudder. I know I'm missing lots of great dog books, but that's a chance I'm willing to take.

I am first and foremost a dog person, dog lover extraordinaire. I want a happy ending or at least, I want the dog alive and on the precipice of happiness in the end. It's my quirk and I live with it.

6) All vampire books except DRACULA by Bram Stoker and SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley (a vampire book for people who hate vampire stories) will continue to remain unread by yours truly for the rest of my natural life. I am tempting fate, I know, but I've always been a daredevil.

7) THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova

A vampire book that was heralded by critics and bloggers alike. Everyone loved this, it seems. Everyone except me. Reading ABOUT the book made me want to break my vampire rule and read it. So I picked up a copy at the library.

Deadly dull just about covers most of what I read. I got about a third of the way in, reading until my eyes glazed over. I put the put down with great disappointment.

Let me say this: I don't enjoy being the 'odd man out' - I want to jump on certain bandwagons. I really do. It bothers me when I dislike something everyone else likes. I always wonder if I'm being contrary. But honestly, there are just certain sorts of writing and story telling that are not for me.

8) SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Thomas Harris

No, no, a thousand times no! Haven't seen the movie either. Never will.

9) MOBY DICK by Herman Melville

I've tried. Oh, how I've tried.  (I may even keep trying.) But I can never get past the first few chapters. It's almost like I'm reading something written in another language. I do so want to 'get' with Moby. But I think I'm doomed to disappointment.

10) Celebrity Biographies by...uh, celebrities.

I enjoy gossip as much as the next person, but these sorts of tell-all books only passably work if the writer, usually enabled by a ghost writer, has had an unique life and lived a long time. A bio of a person who is 23 or 24 years old cannot, by that very fact, be unique or interesting. At least, to me. There are exceptions of course, but on the whole I prefer to 'err' on the side of sneering caution.

Who can refute a sneer?


  1. Hello Yvette:
    If there has to be a choice between Moby Dick and Madame Bovary, then go for the Flaubert which really is a classic and so wonderful to read. But then we have never seen a film of it!!

  2. Read Madame Bovary twice. But not many of the rest. I add MAGIC MOUNTAIN, MIDDLEMARCH, THE SOUND AND THE FURY and THE DAVINCI CODE.

  3. Your ten are my ten. Need I say more. :<)

  4. I think celebrity biographies are a good thing to leave off of a TBR pile. At least the majority of them. I did make an exception for Tina Fey's but it's hardly a ghostwritten tell-all.

  5. Jane and Lance: Agreed. :)

    I probably will not read either, but IF - then I'll give BOVARY a look.

  6. Patti: MIDDLEMARCH - good one. I've always meant to read this just never got around to it.
    I feel like such a slacker. :)

  7. Nan: We are of one mind when it comes to reading. Ha!

  8. Red: I think I'll make an exception for Tina Fey's book as well. Hey, rules were made to be broken.

  9. I agree with you about Silence of the Lambs. My imagination is all too active (and retentive) to store such ugly visions!

  10. Mark: That's my problem as well. Things stay vivid in my imagination for a long long time.

  11. Yvette, thanks for your warning, er, list of books that you're just not into! :-) Seriously, though, they all sound like books I wouldn't read, either, especially vampire books (except the ones by my writer pals in our online writers' workshop, LinkOnline, because they're good-natured, smart-alecky vampires). I read SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, but while I thought it was well-done, one read was enough; frankly, I found it kind of exhausting.

    Give me a witty, cheeky suspense novel with a soupcon of romance (not too mushy, please) and characters I'd love to hang out with if they were real people, and I'll be a fan of that author for life. That picture of the lady with the sneer was absolutely priceless! :-)

  12. Dorian: Yes, m'dear, these are not your sort of books. :) But picture me surprised at the thought of you reading SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Uggo!

    Glad you liked my 'sneer' picture. I thought it was a hoot, too.

  13. Yvette,

    I haven't read the following books from your list, and I don't plan on reading any of them.

    3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10.

    I had a similar experience with No. 5, only it was a cat book. It was _I Am A Cat_ by Natsume Soseki. I had read an excerpt from the novel and thought it sounded very good. I got a copy and read in the intro that the cat drowns in a rain barrel at the end. That was it. I never started it and now wish I had found it.

  14. Yvette,

    The last sentence of my previous message should read as follows:

    "I never started it and now wish I had never found it."

  15. Silence of the Lambs! Yes! I mean, NO...I haven't read it either and I'd rather have my fingernails pulled off one by one than have to do so.

    And I absolutely agree with Jane & Lance...I have read both Moby Dick & Madame Bovary and if you're going to choose one, then definitely go for Flaubert. I was dragged kicking and screaming through Melville. It was a horrible experience. Just watch the movie (preferably with Patrick Stewart).

    On the other hand, I really liked The Historian--although it was a _bit_ longer than it had any business being....

  16. Oh, and Middlemarch....I'm slogging my way through that right now. Can't say that I highly recommend it. Another book that could definitely have been a heck of a lot shorter. For heaven's sake, I've already read over 500 pages. And I still have 300 or so to go. Yikes! Terrific character study. But seriously......

  17. Fred: Don't you hate when that happens? I don't want to read about an animal coming to a sad end. I'll only occasionally tolerate it if it's not at the end - happens in the middle of the book for a specific reason, not just to shock or manipulate my heartstrings - and somehow the story and the characters make up for it in some way. But rarely does this happen so I prefer to avoid the whole thing.

  18. Bev: You and me both. We'll sit side by side and get our fingernails yanked. Ha!

    I know, I know, everyone raves about THE HISTORIAN, I did mention that. But not for me, thank you very much. :)

    I'll take MADAME BOVARY under advisement. :)

    Good luck with MIDDLEMARCH.

  19. Yvette, I am a big Leo Tolstoy fan..and he did not write "Crime and Punishment" - Fyodor Dostoevsky did. I loved Tolystoy's "Anna Karenina" and "War and Peace." They were required reading when I was in college but I found them both fascinating back in the day. I'm not sure, however, that I'd have the concentration to read them now, but I'm glad I did then.

    One of Oprah's book Club selections was "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. Definitely NOT a "woman with struggles who wins in the end" type of book...lol It was one of the most chilling and sobbering books I ever read.

    I LOVED the "sneer" photo...so funny..lol!!

  20. PS: What about the Steig Larsson trio of books? "The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, " etc? So many people were reading them last year but I couldn't get into them. I did enjoy the movie adaptations of them, however, and even watched them in Swedish with sub-titles

  21. Pat: Embarrassing! Thanks for the correction. Yegads!

    Concentration is the thing. Yes. At my age it's definitely wavering. :)

    I didn't say that ALL of Oprah's choices were 'women's' books. But more often than not.

    THE ROAD is way too grim for me.

    I read THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO this way: read half, skimmed the rest.

    Couldn't read much of the second.

    The third was the worst. Only read a few pages and that was it.

    Haven't seen the films. Been meaning to. One of these days....

  22. Agree with you on lots of those!!! Thanks for a candid post.

  23. I saw SILENCE OF THE LAMBS in two equal sessions on two different days and swore never to read the book. Loved MOBY DICK in school as I did TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES... and ROBINSON CRUSOE. I've been aiming to read MADAME BOVARY and MIDDLEMARCH for a while now. Guess I'll get to them a lot quicker. LORD OF THE RINGS? I think I'll leave that until retirement. The one thing I'm guilty of is not giving Fyodor Dostoyevsky due respect.

    Aside: Other people's book lists make me uncomfortable 'cause the books I haven't read always outweigh the ones I have!

  24. You may remember that in Edmund Crispin's "The Moving Toyshop," Yvette, Fen and Cadogan play "unreadable books," where each tries to come up with the name of an "unreadable" book to top the other player. It's hilarious. I would love to play that with you sometime...I love your list here!

  25. Mystica: I'm glad we're in agreement. :) Thanks for dropping by. With so many books to read, I have to draw the line somewhere! Ha!

  26. Prashant: You're supposed to feel uncomfortable - it's called 'guilt'. It makes you want to read what everyone else has read.

    I try to resist that. :)

    I'm not saying these books are 'bad' by the way. I'm just saying they are not for me. At least, so far.

  27. Les: Oh, I do remember! It was one of the things about the book I loved most, besides the general bedlam. :)

    I would love to play with you, Les.

    We should start a Facebook page.

  28. Yvette,

    After reading various comments here, I guess I'm swimming against the tide, but I have read _Moby Dick_ three times so far and will do it again. I didn't know I wasn't supposed to enjoy reading it, so I enjoyed reading it, and will do so again.

    It's not a quick read or a book that one can pick up, read for a few minutes, and then put down. It's one that requires the reader to settle down and plan on spending some time with.

    I read _Madame Bovary_ several times and lost interest after the last time and don't plan on rereading it.

    Given the choice between _Moby Dick_ and _Madame B_, I would pick _Moby Dick_.

    _Crime and Punishment_ and _Lord of the Rings_ are two of my favorites which I have read numerous times and plan to do so again.

  29. Well, I loved The Historian, but other than that, your list is pretty much my list. If it has an Oprah's Book Club sticker, I run in the other direction.

    I've started Madame Bovary three or four times and never get much past the second chapter. I start zoning out and the fact that it's in French makes it even easier to not pay attention! Much easier to zone out in a foreign language.

    I also haven't read more than the first few chapters of Lady Chatterly's Lover. Who knew banned books could be so boring?! Plus, it creeps me out that it was always men who were telling me I needed to read it--I have heard what's in it, guys.

  30. Fred: Remember that this is ALL subjective. I'm not saying that reading these books is bad or that these are bad books, all I'm saying is that I will probably never read them. I'm the one swimming against the tide in many instances.

    I did quote Emerson. Words I firmly believe in. :)

  31. Lauren: I know what you mean about LADY CHATTERLY. I've tried reading other books by Lawrence and could never manage to rise above the boredom. One woman's opinion.

  32. I don't think you've missed anything. I wasn't wild about Historian or Jodi.

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  34. I'm in agreement with you about vampire books, including The Historian, 100%.

    We'll both be iconoclasts on that score.

    I just don't get it. I don't get the appeal at all. Why is it fun to read about "people/vampires" to drink people's blood. Ugh!

    I will never read one. And I will never read Silence of the Lambs. Saw the movie accidentally on tv, but the book: NO WAY!

    And I'll never read Moby Dick (had to do this in high school, don't remember it.)

    I read one book by Jodi Picoult at a friend's insistence. It was o.k., with an annoying ending, which was changed in the movie. But I haven't read another one.

    Middlemarch: Many friends love George Eliot and like this book ked it, as did a sibling. I can't read books where one sentence is a paragraph long. I've forgotten the beginning by the third line. That's just me.
    (I find Eliot's life an interesting one and she had a lot of very good ideas. This book, friends tell me, is about the theme of marrying for love, not money or social standing, etc., a unique idea for her time.)

    I think I read Madame Bovary in high school, but don't remember anything about it.

    I don't read celebrity biographies, but there are few I'd like to read like Lena Horne's, which has some good substantial points on the Civil Rights Movement, and her experience in Hollywood where Humphrey Bogart came to her aid, when she was going to move there.

    Anyway, on vampires I'm adament. Will never buckle under.

    Now on the proverbial desert island, I'd probably read any book left there, but I surely wouldn't bring any of the above.

  35. Deb: There are plenty more I could name - I've been reading for a good long time. Or perhaps I should say, non-reading.

  36. I agree with you, Kathy, about that desert island. I wouldn't bring any of these. But I'd read some of them if that were all that were available - except for SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

    I'm sure Thomas Harris is an excellent writer, he's just not for me.

    I may give MIDDLEMARCH a try one of these days...Right now I've embarked on Anthony Trollope's books and those will take up a lot of my time for the next few months. I'll be reading other stuff in between, of course...!

  37. I have never read any of the Stieg Larsson books. Never will. I did watch two of the three movies. I'd also include these in my list of books the rest of the world has read but not me: THE HELP, FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN, anything by James Patterson, John Grisham, Michael Connelly or Nora Roberts (aka J. D. Robb).

    RE: #10. I just about died laughing when I read that Justin Bieber had written an autobiography. Similarly, I love hearing anyone under the age of 20 say something like "I've never in my whole life seen/done/felt that!" Maybe there are a few more exclamation marks after that, too. Hyperbole is the language of the young, isn't it?

  38. I hate Moby Dick though I did love The Historian. I've read all the Lord of the Rings books as a kid, loved them, not sure I would as an adult.

    I still want to read Marley & Me since I loved the movie so much and I do enjoy vampire books (just not the ones where the glitter in sunlight).

  39. I think the only one of these I have read is The Hobbit. It took me at least three goes to get past the first chapter (Lewis should have left that one out!), but after that, I loved the story.

    And I´d never read a story just because everybody else did, but as a teacher there are some books I just have to dig into. And some of them are surprisingly good, actually ;)

  40. John: It's the wave of the future I'm afraid. Everyone thinks they're SO INTERESTING by the time they reach the advanced age of 22 or 23.

    I haven't seen the Stieg Larsson movies. I did read the first book though not all the way through. I mostly skimmed near the end.

    That was enough Larsson for me. Though I did look at the next two and read a few pages. But that was enough. Ugh.

  41. Ryan: I don't want to prevent anyone from reading anything. This is all my own subjective opinion. We're all entitled to read what we want without apologizing for it. :)

  42. Dorte: It's always a very good thing when a book surprises you. I love that sort of surprise. :)

  43. Boy, I missed a good one here! I have read Madame Bovary, which I think is a fabulous book, Crime and Punishment, which is heavy but sheer genius. Darn it, there's one other, but I can't see the article from here and I can't remember. Anyway, I tried to read The Historian, but just couldn't get into it at all.

    I have read Dracula, excellent book which is probably not what you would expect. It is not gross, vampirism description very subtle, done using the technique of letters of diary entries, which I find a good technique. The original Dracula also has no love or sex in it -- that was all put into the plays and movies made from it. Interesting, huh? This is no Twilight or any of the other blood-filled, sexual books done now!

    Oh, man, what a great sneer!!!

  44. Becky: I try to copy that sneer when the occasion calls for it. HAHA!!!

    DRACULA was my exception (and SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley) to the vampire rule, too.


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