What To Read

Another weekend and another Sunday…I will be spending time with my granddaughter doing something cool no doubt….

AS an avid reader, mostly non-fiction seldom do I read fiction, I read apiece that some classics were being removed from the must read list……

If you’ve ever found yourself struggling through a so-called “classic” book only to find yourself thinking, “How racist/sexist/boring,” you’re not alone. The editors of GQ, along with some current authors, have put together a list of 21 such books (technically 20, because one of them got two votes) that are simply outdated and should be struck from the “Great Books” canon. The list got itself mentioned on Fox & Friends over the weekend, and not in a good way—it includes the Bible, which Jesse Ball calls “repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned,” leading Fox News religion contributor Father Jonathan Morris to push back by calling its inclusion on the list “foolish,” USA Today reports. Lots of social media users also decried the choice, and evangelist Franklin Graham said the editors “couldn’t be more wrong.” As for what else made the list, here’s a sampling—along with the books the editors and the authors they spoke to think you should read instead:

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: This is the book that got two votes. “Mark Twain was a racist. … He was a man of his time, so let’s leave him there,” writes To Instead, he suggests reading The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll by Alvaro Mutis; Caity Weaver suggests Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
  2. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger: André Aciman calls Salinger’s novel “totally silly” and “without any literary merit whatsoever.” Instead, try Olivia: A Novel by Dorothy Strachey.
  3. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway: “Hemingway’s novels—with their masculine bluster and clipped sentences—sometimes feel almost parodic to me,” writes Rumaan Alam, who suggests instead The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard.
  4. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien: While the books are “influential as exercises in world building, as novels they are barely readable,” writes Manuel Gonzales. Instead, try Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series.
  5. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller: While Heller’s novel “fails to capture the absurdities and impossible conflicts of war,” Emily Robbins writes that Inaam Kachachi’s The American Granddaughter does just that.
  6. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut: “The few women in Slaughterhouse-Five die early, are porn stars, or are ‘bitchy flibbertigibbets,'” writes Nadja Spiegelman, who suggests Veronica by Mary Gaitskill instead.
  7. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry: “I’m convinced that the cowboy mythos, with its rigid masculine emotional landscape, glorification of guns and destruction, and misogynistic gender roles, is a major factor in the degradation of America,” writes Lauren Groff. “The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford … acts in many ways as a strong rebuttal to all the old toxic western stereotypes we all need to explode.”

Click for the complete list, which includes another Hemingway and another Salinger.

While I may not read much fiction I feel these classics should remain on the must read list…..Hemingway is about the only way that most Americans know anything about WW1 or the Spanish Civil War…..never stop reading him!

What say you about this?



9 thoughts on “What To Read

  1. I think such suggestions are shameful. Those books have to be read in the context of the times when they were written, or the periods they describe. It is nonsense to attribute modern ideas of political correctness to them, or attempt to criticise them based on modern sensibilities.
    And if Aciman thinks that ‘Catcher In The Rye’ has no merit, he either had no youth, or is a complete and utter idiot. People like these really piss me off. They make me so angry, as you can probably tell.
    Best wishes, Pete.

      1. Hemingway was a great writer. ‘The Old man and The Sea’, ‘A Farewell To Arms’, ‘Death In The Afternoon’, and so many more.

  2. I used to recommend books to people until I realized that the books I found good and re-readable fit me but may not fit the person I recommend it too. And after talking to loads of folks about the sources of their thinking, I found that their list of books, essays, music, films, etc. while different than mine with some overlaps, served the same purpose for them. That is, as long as the agreed with my general worldview – lol – otherwise they could use my list to smarten up – ha ha. I think Hemingway read a lot of https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044019901347;view=1up;seq=24 Richard Harding Davis in his youth. I liked Davis – he is representive and a leader in his time.

  3. First off, this is clearly a gimmick story from GQ…an attempt to attract higher-end click-bait…(“Look JD Salinger side-boob!”) It’s also cleverly designed to make the reader feel good about struggling with these classics. You know, like how Republicans pat The Stupids on the back and tell them “Coastal Elites think you’re stupid, but we’re on your side.” That and they’re likely pimping books written by friends of those at GQ and/or published by its publisher. Anyway, this story should be taken as such….But I’m not gonna.

    For a classic to be a classic…it must be as old as these classics. Most of their suggested replacements look like they’ve been written in the last 10 years, so they aren’t classics by any definition. Nor is that fair. Why not replace “War & Peace” with the video game “Call of Duty” while you’re at it? If you want to make a serious attempt at “replacement” find a better, similar, book from the same time period. That’s legitimate. (To be fair, I saw an example of that on the list). And if you’re writing about the past, it better damn well accurately resemble the past! To do otherwise is to just tell feel-good lies that superimpose today’s values over the past’s. I don’t care how good the book is, that’s still bullshit.

    I’ve only read a few of these classics and saw the movie version of a few more. I have a mostly-positive opinion of them. But that’s not the point. The point is that this kind of story is more about invalidating the past primarily for just being the past. “Dracula left me cold” Gee, I expected a story about a guy who drinks the blood out of you to leave you warm & fuzzy. Idiot!

    For example, the complaints against Twain are complete bullshit. It compares a work of fiction centred on a white boy to non-fiction written by Frederick Douglass. Why not compare Othello to a motorcycle repair manual while you’re at it? While Twain does meander like a river, Huckleberry Finn’s river excursion grabbed my attention before I was 10 and grabbed it again years later. Like Heart of Darkness (aka Apocalypse Now it was a journey of vignettes that captured both humanity & the time it was set in. Oh, so the uneducated slave talks like…an uneducated slave!!! The Horror. The Horror.

    Guess what snowflakes? Teaching slaves was illegal! As a slave, or even a free black man, just looking smart could get you killed! To imply otherwise is to deny the dark reality of the past. Well, maybe to shield your delicate sensibilities from being offended, Twain should re-write it so that Nigger Jim has a Harvard degree and that his slavery was really just some “unpaid community service” for him to put on his resume….now that he’s unemployed and rapping on the street for cash under the more acceptable name, “Nigga Jim”. Anything to keep the reader’s delicate sensibility from being offended. That’s what literature is all about, right?

    And the replacement? A story published in the 90’s about some kid on a sailboat travelling the world, as opposed to the American South. Never heard of it. Might be good, but it sounds more like something “inspired” by what it’s supposed to replace.

    But all this is yet another attack on history from & for… the semi-literate fucktards who want everything simple & easy, morons with the attention spans of goldfish who nod off before the end of a Tweet…and people who just convulse at certain words & ideas from yesteryear and would like it pretend none of it happened. They want everything to conform to the now…even stories from/about the past written by people from the past.

      1. The Right/religious types have always been into burning books. Sadly, the Left are becoming “book burners” now too. In an attempt to prove they’re “morally purer” than Trump, they’ve been launching all kinds of purification rituals, blacklists, witch-hunts, etc….and now book burnings of a sort. (This is why we keep losing.)

        Besides, it’s not as if books don’t have enough troubles already!

        (Damn, I’m really tempted to post another Squidbillies video or two…but I’ve done way too much of that lately.)

      2. That is why I still buy books almost monthly….my library on foreign policy is bigger than the library we have in the city…..I love my books….chuq

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