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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Question of the Week: Which Books Would You De-Canonize?

Via Jacket Copy, I came across this literary site that's decided on ten classics NOT worth reading, including a bunch of books that I kinda agree are overrated, at least literarily speaking, and some that I think are definitely not. IMHO, the sage tomes they chose to eliminate include works by Woolf, Dos Passos, DeLillo, even Kerouac. I also agree that A Tale of Two Cities is not Dickens at his best, at all (he's better as a revolutionary himself than a reactionary!) However I'd question other excisions they made--The Road rocks! Maybe my readers vehemently disagree, though.

Anyway, take a look at their post, and then come back here and let us know which books you'd clip from the universal "must read" list. Wish you could get back those hours you spent pushing through the dense prose of a vaunted classic? Get your revenge below.


  1. Agatha Christ-Almighty4:38 PM

    Wuthering Heights. Eff those moody people.

  2. Anonymous4:43 PM

    The Old Man and the Sea. Most boring fishing story EVER.

  3. Oh I so agree, Agatha! I was about to say the very same thing. I'm also no fan of On the Road, but I can't put my finger on why other than that it struck me as so relentlessly masculine in a very self-important, "I'm so special" sort of way and just made me want to roll my eyes.

  4. Wuthering Heights. HATE nearly every character. They can all die.

    Grapes of Wrath. Not for me.

    Everyone has an opinion, doesn't mean I have to decide what I like based on it. Woolf, Dickens, Kerouac, Marquez, McCarthy are always worth reading.

  5. Grrr, that list makes me so angry, not just because White Noise is my favorite book. (It's also hardly part of the canon; most English professors, sadly, agree with that blogger's opinion of DeLillo.) One Hundred Years of Solitude is a masterpiece, and Kerouac was a genius whenever he put pen to paper, but I'm OK with striking The Rainbow (I think; it was a long time ago). But anyway, I hate the blithe tone of that post.

  6. Wow, I guess this is why people come up with lists--to generate discussion. I adore Wuthering Heights. I wonder if a better question might be: which white men would we bump off the list to make room for the women and POC? I nominate Byron, for one. Love his personality, eh on his writing.

  7. I'd strike "White Noise" off in a heartbeat. I don't think I've ever read another book so full of pretentious wankery. I like postmodernism as the much as the next person but this book...I wish it would drag itself back into the cesspool it came from and be gone.
    I tried "On the Road" but started to die from boredom so I had to stop.
    I'm always seeing Sherwood Anderson on those "Best of" lists and always get surprised. any thoughts on him?

  8. Catherine, that succinct and cutting summation literally made me LOL--no small feat. I can't say much about Sherwood Anderson, but I've never heard anyone rave about him, but nor have I heard any stories about dying of boredom!

  9. Sherwood Anderson wrote the great book Winesburg Ohio. I love it but it's very underrated.

  10. I agree about Absalom, Absalom. If I had my way, ALL Faulkner would be stricken from the canon.

    Also, Old Man and the Sea is NOT Hemingway at his best. Could we get rid of that one, please?

  11. I completely agree on Wuthering Heights. There are no likeable characters.

    As for the list of ten, I agree with On the Road. It's self-congratulatory and sexist and just... ugh.