Anti Book List

You know what random thought I had today? I’ll tell you. But you have to promise to remember that these are my opinions because it’s my blog. Got it? Good.

I thought about why does everyone talk about their favorite book? Oh you just have to read (blank)! It’s my favoriiiite. You’ll never guess the ending! Ok, ok I’ll tell you! It’s …

Which is great and fine. But have you ever met someone who hated the same person you did? How strong was your bond over the person you both hated? Like a bundle of sticks: unbreakable!

So, I’m going to tell you my 4 LEAST favorite books of all time, and you can thank me for it so that you can steer clear of them. You’re so welcome. It’s like anti good reads (which I’m not sure why no one has thought of that yet.)

4. The Last Days of Magic

I was literally shaking my head over this book the entire time I was reading it. It was a complete information dump with absolutely no plot and a terrible ending. I was expecting the best because it was about Irish folklore (my sweet spot) but it read more like a dictionary than a novel. Do not recommend.

3. Catcher in the Rye

– Who is this whiny kid and why do so many English teachers stand by him? Listen, if I wanted to hear someone curse and act childish, I’d watch home videos of myself. Is there anything else that I’m supposed to feel other than frustrated with this kid? Do not recommend.

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone

– Listen, before you judge or grab a wand, go back and read it. I promise that it wasn’t as good as you thought it was. I actually had to see the movie in order to pick the book back up again when I started it for the first time. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but if there was a way to understand the whole series without the first book then I’d recommend that. But since there isn’t and the books eventually are awesome, I have to mark this one as recommend with reservations.

1. Where the Red Fern Grows

– Oh. My. God. Who let this book be read to children?! I read it in the fourth grade, for crying out loud! The kid in the story saves all his money to buy two hunting dogs and then THEY DIE. HORRIFICALLY. What lesson is this supposed to teach me again? Don’t work hard, kids! Whatever you buy will just die after awhile! Ugh. Do not recommend.

So what about you? What books do you hate?

When Was the Last Time I Was on Fire?

Sitting in English class, I always thought that inspiration came from the outside.

For example, Poe had a dark life, experienced plenty of death, and drank a lot. So, he produced material that reflected that. And Hawthorne. He was so ashamed of his family’s legacy in the Salem Witch Trials that he changed the spelling of his name and wrote about the shunning of a young female by the Puritan community. Or my man, Joyce. His home country of Ireland was a constant point of contention and inspiration, even if he had to slip his rage in between the lines.

And for most of my life, this conclusion has proved true. Inspiration really can come from anywhere, so it is important to keep an open mind while walking along the street or taking a road trip.

But enter me into adulthood. It’s Groundhog’s day everyday. I go to work, I come home, I eat, I go to bed, and I do that five times a week. And I don’t have to tell you that it’s really hard to create something when you are just trying to get through a work week. Sort of like singing into a black hole.

For a while, I just didn’t get it. How did people express themselves artistically when they were being numbed by a daily routine? Where did people find the time to search for inspiration in the mundane? When would I climb out of my own apathy?

And most importantly, could I remember the last time I felt like I was on fire? Because inspiration is like that. You’re burning up with a fever, and you’re working up a sweat, but you’re warm all over. You’re suddenly not just alive, you are thriving.

And then it hit me. If you can’t be set on fire from the outside, it’s going to have to come within.

You see, inspiration really is on the inside already. What you experience while living life may help you to trigger something, but that’s only because the potential was there before. You’ve got the tinder and the spark.

So, the next time that you are worried that inspiration hasn’t struck, writer’s block has been lodged, and you’re out of ideas, set yourself on fire (SO METAPHORICALLY). Light the wick inside and shine brightly. You’re only one match away from a masterpiece.

Isn’t It Pretty to Think So?

Do you ever get the feeling that people are in love with the idea of life, but not life itself?

That we’re all waiting for someone to start filming our lives so that we can play out the scene and deliver our lines? That we’re all waiting for our boss to say something really snarky because we have the perfect comeback? That we’re all waiting for our significant other to break up with us so we can stereotypically eat ice cream and binge watch Dirty Dancing? That we’re all waiting for it to rain so that we can kiss someone in it? That we’re all waiting to take a cruise so we can stand at the helm with our arms out like Kate Winslet?

It’s like we’re all waiting for our lives to look like something. Waiting for them to be “perfect.”

I like to refer to this idea as “Isn’t It Pretty to Think So?.” Stolen from Hemingway, it simply encapsulates the idea that life is really poetic, but we still try to force it into something that is meaningful to us.

I mean, it is really beautiful how most things in life come together in a way that you would have never expected but should have expected all along. And yet we still spend so much time trying to force the pieces into place, gluing everything down so that it doesn’t blow into the breeze, even though the breeze is what will guide us, if we let it.

I see a lot of people fall under the spell of “Isn’t It Pretty to Think So?” when they fall in love with someone new, and they think that they’re perfect together because they both like corn dogs and they both love to talk about how bad the last season of American Horror Story was. But I also see people who build up events or experiences in their head until they could not possibly go the way they had planned, even if it wasn’t just “pretty to think” that it would go a certain why.

So, how do you avoid thinking pretty? You simply remember that your life isn’t a Hemingway novel. Or a Fitzgerald novel. Or a Shakespearean play. Or a Quentin Tarantino film (thank goodness?). You write your own life, from beginning to end. And it’s messy, and confusing, and frustrating, and weird, and terrific, and great, and inspiring, and depressing, and glorious.

And oh yeah, it is also always, always perfect, no matter how bad or good it seems.

Can I See Your I.D.?

Isn’t it sort of strange that the blanks you fill out to get your driver’s license have pretty much nothing to do with your actual identity? That’s right. Eye color, height, whether or not you are an organ donor, has nothing to do with who you really are. (That’s right, kids. Keep your liver or don’t. Your kidneys don’t define you.)

And okay, maybe you already knew that your entire identity is too big to fit on a card that you can fit in your wallet. But then again, if there was a card big enough, what would be on it?

I can distinctly remember discussing identity in one of my literature classes. It was with one of my favorite professors, and he was spouting, like a fount of wisdom. He challenged each of us to define the idea of identity. And each time, he shook his head and countered our explanation. I can recall him being especially frustrated when I stated that your identity is what you believe in and what you like and dislike. He told me if that were true, then we wouldn’t have an identity until we were born. I astutely replied with, “oh.”

So, an identity comes from birth, I had to reason. And then where does it go? Somewhere along the line, I think it must align itself with whatever people perceive of us. If we’re smart, we’re nerds. If we’re good at sports, we’re jocks. If we like school, we’re weird. And whether you accept or reject your label, whether you wear it proudly or like armor, it becomes a part of you. So much so, that when you are freed from the black and white judgment of your peers, you feel a little lost. I was a nerd in high school, you think. Now there are about a hundred other people who are smarter than me, if not more, at this company. Suddenly, without that preconceived notion of yourself that you can slip into like a second skin, you can’t be defined. You’re amorphous.

And then, you spend the rest of your life trying to figure out the identity that you should have been developing since, well, birth. Who am I, really? (I’ve been asking myself that a lot lately.) And how am I going to define my identity if the answer to the question who are you is something other than my favorite band, my job, my religion, my sexual preference, or my gender? (What do you mean the fact that I love Taylor Swift won’t help me to make big life decisions?) [April Fools! I hate T-Swift].

Of course, it helps to start with what you like. What you know about yourself to be true. But your identity will never simply be who or what you associate yourself with, so you’ll have to move on from there. Rather, identity is what my literature professor was trying to teach us all along: it is a workable concept that is as diverse as the amount of people who possess it. It is never attained, but exists all the same. Like you, identity is amorphous and never constant. But this is a fact to be proud of, not scared of. Having no definition does not always mean that you are lost, but rather, that there are infinite possibilities.

Procrastinators! Read This…Later

It’s a disease (or a gift?) to be able to postpone things to the last minute. But, I wouldn’t even call it postponing because that implies some sort of effort…hmm…oh, well. I’ll think of a synonym later…

Yes, we’ve all been victims of procrastinating both large and small projects, and of course, science says writers are repeat offenders. This is not news to me, as you’d expect. For it wasn’t that I didn’t want to write about whether Hamlet was actually “mad” in his eponymous play in high school, it was simply that I wanted to do other things more. Like watch full marathons of Say Yes to the Dress and analyze why pretty girls chose ugly dresses.

And procrastinating is a habit that seems, as I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, as unbreakable and insurmountable as other unhealthy routines like smoking cigarettes or eating junk food. And it’s not without its perks: the adrenaline high of completing a project or finishing a task as the deadline is closing in, as the wire pulls taut around your neck, is simply exhilarating. Why else would we do this to ourselves time and time again if we didn’t get some strange pleasure out of barely getting things done?

Of course, this was my mantra in college. At any given time, I was so tired from staying up studying and writing that I was almost completely awake and energized. I lived in a constant state of finishing a paper only to start another one a few hours later (one I had known about for weeks). Then, when I was removed from the gentle hands of the American educational system (I can hear you chuckling through the screen) and into my study abroad experience, my procrastinating only worsened. At finals time, I wrote two 15+ papers in the span of 24 hours. (Of course, I’m sure you’re all skeptical and unimpressed by this because this is all coming from the girl who writes daily, but this is the part where you gasp in amazement for dramatic effect.)

I convinced myself that I didn’t have “time” for papers, and I let it all go, until I sincerely did not have any time to write my papers.

But today, in life’s infinite wisdom, and through the tried and tested methods of age, I have come to the following conclusion about procrastination: the homework that is known is better than the homework that is yet to be done.

Meaning this: do a little bit each day and you won’t feel so bad about putting it off.

Because here is the rub, keeping with the Hamlet theme earlier, if you know you’re a procrastinator, then you shouldn’t kid yourself about it. You shouldn’t even begin to tell yourself that you’ll start the project early when everyone knows you’re lying. Just accept that it is a part of your identity. For example, Clark Kent is a huge part of Superman, even though it is the dorky, not-so-awesome side. Procrastination is the Clark Kent to your secret superhero identity.

So, embrace your procrastinating side. However, plan for it. If you know you are going to procrastinate, then make sure you have enough time to do so. I promise, the looming feeling that you get when you think about a project or issue that you have to resolve is so. much. worse than actually pulling yourself away from wedding shows and just doing the thing. Then, when it’s done, you’ll feel accomplished, and you can reward yourself. With more wedding shows.

The point is, don’t spend so much trying to change your ugly habits. Instead, make them work for you.

What Big…Shoulders You Have?

What big eyes you have, grandma!

The better to see you with, my dear.

What big ears you have! 

The better to hear you with.

What big teeth you have…

And you should know that this is the part where things start to go downhill. The Grimm Brothers are not known for their sensitivity, and Little Red Riding Hood does not disappoint in this category. After the last line (above), the little girl is chased around the room by the wolf who has eaten her grandmother only moments before. That is, until the friendly axeman arrives to stop the fray by chopping the wolf up and saving the little old lady from imminent digestion.

You are probably familiar with some version of this tale, but I bet you didn’t realize that within this gruesome scene, there is a rather positive message.

Even though Red Riding Hood knows something is up because she keeps pointing out the unusual features that her “grandmother” has suddenly assumed, the wolf is still able to spin the negatives into positives (as surely as Rumpelstiltskin spins straw into gold) by telling Little Red Riding Hood what his charming characteristics are good for.

Forgive me if I am reading too much into this child’s story, (I’m an English major after all) but it seems that the wolf has rehearsed these lines when he delivers them to Little Red. In fact, I would daresay that the wolf has been defending his anatomy his entire life due to the ease with which he speaks to the girl.

You see, the wolf is personified in this fairy tale. That means he possesses qualities that humans have: speech, emotions, the ability to dress up like little old women, you know. So, if he’s only “human,” why wouldn’t he have insecurities about his big ears, eyes, and teeth?

After all, I’m sure you have insecurities. Actually, I can rest assured that you have something that you would like to change about yourself. (I am as sure about this as I am about the fact that Little Red Riding Hood should not actually be read to children.)

Of course, everyone wants a tummy tuck and a little fat sucked away here and there. But if there is one thing that I fixate upon every time I look at the mirror, mirror on the wall, it would be my shoulders.

My shoulders are one of the biggest things that stand between me and the feeling that I look like a sweet, slight, feminine princess. My shoulders are huge. I once measured them and found that they are exactly the size of a clothes hanger, which does not lend itself to the whole “dainty damsel” image favored by society.

But the funny thing is, my grandfather used to compliment me on my shoulders all of the time when he was alive. He would tell me that I have strong shoulders and that I should be a swimmer. And wouldn’t you know, I started to see my shoulders differently. I saw my them as an extension of my ability to bear weight without collapsing. (We’re talking about emotional weight, here. Not physical weight. My arms are puny, let’s so stick with the metaphor.) I suddenly saw myself as strong and present in the world, instead of cowering and afraid. My shoulders became a point of pride instead of contention because I began to see them as a symbol of my ability instead of my appearance. Suddenly, it was not, my! what big shoulders you have. It became my! what big shoulders you have! All the better to raise the glass ceiling on your expectations of my capabilities as a strong woman, my dear.

Now, I’m not saying that you should wait for someone to come along and write a love poem about your insecurities, suddenly casting them in a favorable spotlight, like my grandfather sort of did for me. I’m saying that you should be more like the wolf. Not in the way that he eats grandmothers or preys on little children, but in the way that he champions the parts of himself that he literally cannot hide. The way that he is unapologetic for who he is, even when he is pretending to be someone else entirely.

We all know that fairy tales have wonderful lessons for children. It is time we reconsidered them as adults. We need to see that we are not a wolf in our grandmother’s clothing, trying to be someone else, but ourselves, as we were meant to be seen.

That is Not What I Meant At All; That is Not It, At All.

That is one line in “The Love Song by J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot.

It’s a gorgeous poem, and if you get a chance, you should read it. (I’ll even pardon you if you must leave this blog to go read it. But you should come back because I have other things to say.)

Although the poem has such gems as Do I dare disturb the universe? or In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo, the most powerful line for me is the one I’ve inserted into the title.

Because it’s absolutely mad.

I mean, you have to be a famous poet to write that line. To suggest that when people misinterpret what you say, you will have the chance to correct them. Wow. I mean, that deserves some applause. “That is not what I meant at all; that is not it, at all.” Do you know how the world replies to that? Too bad.

Because everyone is off and judging before the word “go.” Anything you ever write or say or do is going to be misinterpreted and misjudged. Whether you meant anything by it or not, people will read between the lines that you never intended. I wish there was a nicer way to say this, but chances are you will never give off the impression that you want. Meaning is not for you to hold on to; it is for the world to decide.

So, if it doesn’t matter what you mean, why am I telling you this? If you can never make people understand your exact vision, then what’s the point?

The point is you can’t hide because you aren’t sure of the impression you will make. Simultaneously, you cannot try to tell people that they aren’t understanding you correctly. Because that’s an endeavor in futility. It’s like standing in a modern art museum and trying to convince everyone that every piece deserves to be there. It’s simply not happening. Besides, in everyone’s minds, they are the masterful painter of their own reality, not you.

So, let people think what they will, and try your best not to correct them. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, whether you believe it or not.

And Now That You Don’t Have to Be Perfect, You Can Be Good.

I’ve (probably) blogged about it before, and I will (probably) blog about it again.

I am what kind people call a “perfectionist”(mean people call it “neurotic”). Notice the “ist” at the end, meaning that I have spent my entire life trying to be absolutely perfect. And it truly is its own lifestyle.

Of course, it started in childhood, as all traumatic things do. I had an awesome art teacher when I was in elementary school. She somehow got me to create things, which she should receive the Nobel Peace Prize for. Inevitably after I had made some mistake, (because I always did because I wanted everything to be perfect, but alas I am human) she would say: “There are no mistakes in art. Make the mistake into something else.” And then she would grab my marker and start to turn my “dog” (more like a cow) drawing into a cloud. Then, before my very eyes, it would be a cloud. And this was nothing short of black magic to me. Because when I tried myself, it never worked. I was simply stuck with some awful “dog” cloud.

And, no surprise, I never grew out of that “I can’t make mistakes into something else because I can never make mistakes” phase. I went through high school and college with a high GPA, weeping strongly when I was in danger of messing up. (And messing up would simply mean not having my paper framed in front of the class). It was like walking on a tightrope that was not only above alligators but was also made of sharp glass. You can only imagine what all of that perfectionist energy has amounted to now that I am employed in the working world. (Spoiler alert: nothing good).

So, what’s the happy ending for me? I’d love to tell you that I have now embraced the “dog” cloud life, and I can now write in pen instead of pencil so I cannot erase my mistakes but turn them into something new!

Yeah, this blog is cheesy, but it isn’t that cheesy.

I’m still obsessed with making everything really perfect. Day to day, I’m white knuckling all the way. But this quote from Steinbeck somehow brings me back down to Earth. It helps me to take one foot off the pedal and one finger off the trigger.

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.

Essentially, if you stop trying to draw the dog perfectly, then you can draw the cloud. Or if you shoot for the moon, you’ll at least land among the stars. Or, if you just stop expecting perfection from yourself every time, you can focus on being actually good at what you’re doing, instead of asking yourself to do the impossible.

Because when you’re a perfectionist, no one really knows what to expect from you. They just know it will be your absolute best. And that is and always will be (whether you believe it or not) enough.

The Zombie of Shalott

Author’s Note:

I saved the best for last. I know it isn’t cool to laugh at your own jokes, but this blog post made cackle. I think I should pervert more of the world’s classic literature. What do you think? Anyway, I’ll be back next week with more fresh scrapings from my brain (not literally) in the form of new posts. 

Everything is better with zombies. (Okay, except for apocalypses. Then it just means things have taken a turn for the worst.)

But I’m still going to stand by the fact that most things are better with zombies. Which was my exact thought when I took another look at one of my favorite poems of all time: The Lady of Shalott by Lord Alfred Tennyson. It’s a rather dark poem, which centers around a lady from Shalott. She is cursed and cannot look directly out of her window at the nearest town, which is Camelot. Instead, she must look at a mirror to watch the daily happenings as a lonely bystander. That is, until she sees the hunky Lancelot. She then turns around in her tower, takes a good look, and dies. (Ladies, let me remind you. No man is that good looking. No matter what your magic mirror says.)

Well, I mean, she doesn’t die right away. She gets into a boat with her name on it and sails down (ironically) to Camelot so that all of the people of the town can gaze upon her (which is actually a huge metaphor for women in the media, if you ask me) and basically, Lancelot decides she’s pretty hot, ya know. Posthumously.

The end.

Or is it?

So, I thought this four part poem could use a fifth. I think all of you English majors (and anyone who has a sense of humor) will enjoy that I brought this poem into the 21st century. You could even say that I brought it back from the dead.

Ahem. Anyway, here is the last stanza of the original poem in case you forgot how that ended.

They cross’d themselves, their stars they blest,
Knight, minstrel, abbot, squire, and guest.
There lay a parchment on her breast,
That puzzled more than all the rest,
       The wellfed wits at Camelot.
‘The web was woven curiously,
The charm is broken utterly,
Draw near and fear not,—this is I,
       The Lady of Shalott.’
Now, here’s mine.
Gathered by the boat, near her cold, pale head,
Their hearts and eyes were filled with dread,
But the closer they moved, the more they said,
“But seriously, are you sure she’s dead?”
The lady of Shalott.
And then, from out of the bustling crowd,
Came a man tall, handsome, and extremely loud
Walking forward, no, strutting, acting very proud,
was Lancelot of Camelot.
“Don’t worry, citizens, for I am here,
And so you must cast away your fear,
I was voted sexiest man of the year,
(It was almost solely due to my rear)
It is I, Lancelot of Camelot.”
And so he stepped onto the bank,
And examined her face (which was blank)
“If I had to give her a number, a rank,
It would be an eight, she’s kind of hot.”
While the crowd listened to the knight closely,
The lady’s complexion became rather ghostly,
Suddenly, she opened her eyes, which were mostly,
red and bloodshot, and moaned rather grossly,
The lady of Shalott.
No one saw that the lady had awoke,
and everyone thought it was a terrible joke,
when she rose eerily from the boat and spoke,
The lady of Shalott.
“Hear this,” she said in a booming voice,
(but the bored townspeople thought, “do we have a choice?”)
“All who bow down to me will be able to rejoice,
but death and destruction on everyone else I must foist,”
the now zombie of Shalott.
Who animates corpses these days? they all thought,
but Lancelot, who is never distraught,
asked, “What, fair mistress, on this town have you brought?”
the zombie formerly of Shalott.
“I don’t want much,” she replied, “because it’s always the same.”
“And what would that be, maybe my last name?”
“No, that won’t do. It has to be brains.
And actually it would be nice to cut out this stupid refrain,”
said the zombie of Shalott.
“You can have my brains, but it will be a small meal,”
said Lancelot happily, hoping to stealthily steal,
the lady’s heart. A damsel in distress? What a deal!
The idiot knight of Camelot.
So, she ravenously began to eat,
Not wanting to miss the show, they took a seat,
and watched the young lady enjoy her treat,
of knighted Lancelot, a man no one could defeat,
the zombie of Shalott.
The town was glad to be rid of the pompous knight,
And so they took her in, and they treated her right,
And she tried hard not to eat them, with all of her might.
The happy (but hungry) zombie of Shalott.

5 Books You Don’t Actually Have to Read Before You Die

These books are good, but they aren’t that good.

As a bookworm, I’m a connoisseur of good books. But for me, a good book is not limited to its story alone. Good books also have good plot lines, characters, fonts, smells, cover art, etc. However, I like to get some help when discovering NEW good books.

I ususally take recommendations from friends and from society when, and only when, the hype has ebbed on certain titles. But I also occasionally take to the Internet in search of reviews and critiques. Unfortunately, what I come across the most are the all-inclusive 100 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE lists.

I believe these lists to be a bit melodramatic. I mean, what if you’re on 99 when you kick the bucket? How unfulfilled would you feel? Well, I’m here to say, “lower your expectations.” The truth is society has done a good job of spoiling or summarizing some of these famous titles. So much so that it is really unnecessary to read the entire thing. So, go ahead. Skip these, and go read some of the other titles that you simply must read because they will change your life. 

By the way, my tongue is positioned firmly in my cheek. So, if I tell you to skip one of your favorite books of all time, it’s nothing personal. It’s just books. Besides, only you can decide what you actually end up downloading to your e-reader. I’m just trying to do you a solid.

#5Ulysses by James Joyce

I know, I know blasphemy of all blasphemy! I write a blog post professing my undying love for the man, and then tell you not to read one of his masterpieces. However, I must stand by my decision to love James Joyce, but not Ulysses. Joyce has been fairly candid about the book’s subject matter; he simply wanted to cram it full of allusions, which he was successful at. Yet, there are books on the annotations for Ulysses that are longer than the text itself. So, skip this one. If you must read it, read it once. Not the 45 times that your literature professor will encourage you to read it so you can “soak it all in.”

#4-Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

We’ve been there, done that, and Hugh Jackman has starred in it. Not only has the play been reinvented and recast numerous times, but few fans rarely read the book after they’ve seen the production. And really, why would you? You’ve sat through what can only be a 3 or 4 hour play or movie at minimum (you cut 5 songs, and I’m still sitting in the theatre 2 hours later!) and then you’re going to ask me to read a book that contains over 530,000 words for text-to-stage analysis??? I think I’ll let the Les Miserables be miserable and move onto something with a bit more guesswork for the ending. (Spoiler alert: everyone cries or dies.) 

#3-The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

This feels totally wrong to be saying this, but uh, you can skip this one, too. I love Middle Earth, but when I read The Hobbit I found no reason to book my tickets to New Zealand’s Hobbiton. Tolkien is a bit heavy-handed with about everything he does, which includes lots of description and explanations that may make you jump back and forth between the top and the bottom of the page to remember who we’re talking about and where we are in the story. I like a little bit of sensory detail in my reading, but his sentences are more winding than the road that Bilbo Baggins takes to find the ring. It’s weird; all Tolkien fans realize that his writing could be better and clearer, and yet everyone is still swept up in the story and the world he has created. Including myself. So, with this one, I’m not saying you shouldn’t read it. I’m just saying you don’t have to. If books were body language, this Bilbo Baggins adventure would be a shrug for me.

#2-Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

To be honest, this one is a little hazy for me, and I don’t really remember the details or the plot. All I know is that I read it in high school, completed a book project for it, and continued to live my life. That’s just it; I wasn’t overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the story. It didn’t invade my consciousness and set up camp; it didn’t disturb my universe. I read it, I crossed it off the list, and that was that. If you have an affinity for coming of age novels with sassy main characters that curse for no real reason but to seem tough and mature, then go ahead and pick this one up. Maybe Salinger is over my head, but he was out of his mind, so we’re even.

#1-Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

I don’t even like saying this title aloud because it gives me horrible flashbacks of this book and its equally horrible spark notes. It takes place in the heart of the Congo during the Colonial period, which was a time that was rife with ignorance and stupidity on both accountable sides. So, Joseph Conrad felt not only an urge but a life’s calling to take this depressing little point in history and drape dark curtains around it. I had to watch the ending of The Notebook to feel a little bit happier after I read this book. The only thing cool that came out of this one was the literary term anthropomorphism in which the setting or scenery is given human qualities to the point that the very trees become characters in the novel. But please, don’t read it for the neat terminology. And if you are going to read it, have some chocolate on your nightstand. Or don’t because dementors would be able to cheer you better than this book ever could.

Ironically, I used some titles from 100 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE lists to create this blog post. The bright side is that there were plenty of books on these lists that should be read before your dead. So, like I said, tongue is still firmly planted in cheek. But then again, I’d like to think I’ve saved you some time and space on your book shelves all the same. And hey, if there’s an afterlife, these books would definitely work as numbers 101, 102, 103, 104, and 105 on the list 200 BOOKS TO READ AFTER YOU’RE ALREADY DEAD.