Thursday, December 06, 2007

Top Ten Bad Books Everybody Has to Read

Touchstone Magazine's Mere Comments blog has a useful list of the Top Ten Bad Books Everybody Reads. They could have said the "Top Ten Bad Books that Everybody Has to Read" If many of these books weren't assigned it schools, few would read them--and many would be better off for it.


Hannah said...

I've only read "Frankenstein." Who says older English has to be (undeservedly) unpopular? Then again, I have had a few years of Latin, so it's easy by comparison...

Martin Cothran said...

Hannah J,

I don't think the author intended to indict Shelley's book because it is old, just because, in his opinion, it isn't well-written.

While I agree that a book can't be said to be badly written simply because it is old, I would also argue that it can't be considered to be well-written because it is old.

Try reading Lew Wallace's "Ben Hur" for example. I made that mistake one time. I also remember trying to read "Five Little Peppers and How they Grew" for my kids. Now this is a book that is well-regarded as a children's book, but after trying to read it to my kids, I had to conclude that its reputation must have been based on the historic significance of the book rather than its literary quality. I simply had to stop in the middle and go to another book.

Old books are like new ones in this respect: some are well-written and some are not. Fortunately, you have a better chance of finding a well-written old one, probably because only the better written ones stood the test of time.