One of my favourite series is the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde . Thursday Next is a literary detective who works for Jusifiction, the policing agency that works within fiction to maintain narrative stability. In the first book, The Eyre Affair, has to find Jane Eyre when she goes missing from the book and the story starts unravelling. The books are a wild literary ride, populated with lots of crazy characters from literature. Among them is Thursday’s grandmother, Wednesday Next who is trying to read the top 10 (or 100, I can never remember which) most boring books before she dies but can’t get through them because they are so boring.
It’s long summer holidays time in the northern hemisphere and many blogs, newspapers, magazines and libraries are producing summer reading lists and programmes. At the Guardian’s book blog journalist Mark Hooper has launched a counter offensive with a list of books that make you go zzzzzz. Hooper invites readers of his blog to nominate books they have been led to believe are great (word of mouth from friends & family, newspaper/magazine reviews, Oprah and her ilk, nominees/winners of literary prizes such as the Man Booker, Pulitzer and Miles Franklin) but were unable to finish.
Hooper starts the list off with his top 5 most boring books:
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Orlando by Virginia Wolf
Baudolino by Umberto Eco
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.
My own first 5 would be:
Sons and Lovers by D. H Lawrence – HAD to do this at school, found it all too dull and plodding – sorry Mrs Lothian!
Anything by Salman Rushdie – I’ve tried, really I have, but I find his writing inpenetrable
Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky – don’t tell my Katoomba book group – we’re discussing it this weekend. I haven’t got very far. I only found a couple of characters at all engaging and they haven’t been seen for pages and pages
Earthsea by Ursula Leguin – I just don’t ‘get’ fantasy fiction
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – I got such a strong, physical reaction to the child abuse angle I had to put this down for the sake of my sanity – another book group read I couldn’t finish.
Actually, make that anything by D. H. Lawrence as well.
Actually, add most things we HAD to read at school except Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Greenvoe and Whisky Galore – thank you Miss Pugh and Mrs Lothian for those, I revisit them all regularly.
What books could you not finish?