Monday, December 22, 2008

Grace Nearing’s 10 Books Not to Read Before You Die

This London Times column got me thinking: What do I regret having spent my time reading, and why did I ever read these books anyway? After much thought, here’s my final list of books, complete with excuses.

#1 Eloise, by Kay Thompson

Eloise is a little girl -- a force of nature, really -- who lives at The Plaza Hotel in New York in a long ago time when pedophiles didn’t yet exist and bumptious children could wander freely through the metropolis. This classic children’s story left me with a lifetime disappointment that suburban homes don’t come with Room Service.

Reason for reading: big print/small words, four-color cover too enticing to resist

#2 The Baltimore Catechism, by The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore*

The fundamentals of Catholicism reduced to 25,000 straightforward sets of questions and answers. No discussions or clarifications necessary!

*Note: The special deluxe edition featuring pop-up cutouts of the Milk Bottles of Sin is exempt from this do-not-read list.

Reason for reading: required indoctrination

#3 Twixt Twelve and Twenty: Pat Talks to Teenagers, by Pat Boone

That’s right, the uber-bland pop singer from the Fifties and current WorldNetDaily columnist discusses Eisenhower-era social hygiene and offers commonsensical dating do’s and don’ts, including what to do when your naughty parts get all bulbous and tingly at the high-school weenie roast.

Reason for reading: stoned

#4 Fear of Flying, by Erica Jong

In retrospect, what was all the fuss about? Adrian Goodlove and the Zipless Fuck? Hardly worth embarrassing my parents by keeping a copy on my coffee table.

Reason for reading: succumbed to trendiness

#5 Berlin Alexanderplatz, by Alfred Doblin

A gay romp with Eva and Adolf at Berchtesgaden it’s not. It’s a nasty trip through Weimar Berlin with lots of pig slaughtering going on in the background.

Reason for reading: required for German Expressionism course (why was I studying German Expressionism?)

#6 Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House, by Gary Aldrich

Here’s a clue about how clueless FBI agent Aldrich is: Aldrich gets punked by a bunch of gay florists, who convince him that some decorations on the White House Christmas tree are actually cock rings. Whiny and repetitious, Aldrich writes bitchy things about every person he ever encountered during his stint at the White House.

Reason for reading: cock rings

#7 The Anita Bryant Story, by Anita Bryant

The true story of the spunky but devout small-town girl who became a beauty queen, a singer, a well-paid celebrity spokesperson, an active witnessing Christian, and a raging homophobe. Her eyes may have seen the glory, but eventually they also saw bankruptcy and divorce papers as the raging homophobia pretty much destroyed her life.

Reason for reading: buzzed on vodka martinis

#8 None Dare Call It Treason, by John A. Stormer

Vintage 1960s wingnut screed about the hidden tentacles of the communist conspiracy and how the US is failing to kill the giant slimy octopus. Now considered campy, the book nonetheless gave me a bad headache.

Reason for reading: Dad was a Republican

#9 She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb

Really, really, really long story about a sexually abused girl who overeats; becomes obsessed with her roommate’s ex-boyfriend; has a nervous breakdown; loses weight; finds, stalks, and then marries her roommate’s ex-boyfriend, who turns out to be an even bigger freak than she is; divorces cheating husband; and then finds true love. All with more stunning plot-driven coincidences than George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, which must be a new record.

Reason for reading: Oprah told me to

#10 Joe the Plumber -- Fighting for the American Dream, by Samuel Joseph (Joe the Plumber) Wurzelbacher

I know, it hasn't been written yet but I feel confident in my choice. I really want to know all about Joe’s Adventures in the media and along the campaign trail up to the 2008 Presidential Election. I want to discover The Real Story that hasn’t been told about his Rendezvous With Obama, the real and personal impact of the Illegal Invasion of his privacy by Ohio State officials, his Eye-Opening Experience with Governor Sarah Palin, and The Tough Question he asked John McCain while on his Straight Talk Express.

Reason for reading: Like George W. Bush, I have a thing about men with shiny bald heads

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