Let us face it, even if you read like Rory Gilmore or Hermione Granger, there are too many books in the world to read and too little time. Not including all the books that were read to me, all the books I read from ages six nineteen, and all the books on my Kindle, I own and have read four hundred books. (Which, honestly, seems like such a small number.) But even so, I have had to pick and choose what time spend my time on.
In this day and age there is a grand pressure to read “Classic Literature” and in high school literature classes and college literature courses, they are often a requirement. As an English Language And Literature major, though, I can tell you that Spark Notes may be your best friend. Not all of “Classic Literature” are relevant to today or worth reading because of their content. But also, not all popular books are good or worth reading. So, here are 10 pieces of literature not worth your time, and 10 pieces of literature to read instead.
1. A Clockwork Orange
“A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian satirical black comedy novel by English writer Anthony Burgess, published in 1962. It is set in a near-future society that has a youth subculture of extreme violence. The teenage protagonist, Alex, narrates his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him.”
As referenced above, this novel is extremely graphic and disturbing because of the violence. Personally, I had a hard time getting into this piece of literature because of the writing style and science fiction genre, but I am glad I jumped to Spark Notes because I would have not been able to stomach reading all the details of the crimes committed. Multiple assaults, rapes, and murders are just some of the explicitly written crimes. But also, the conditioning Alex goes through reverses itself so the whole plot is worthless.
“Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of people led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.”
For a book called “Dracula”, the title character is hardly in it. In the 123 years since its release, there have been so many iterations and new representations of the story and Dracula is always the main character center stage – in both works of literature and on screen. It is hard to understand why this classic is held in such high regard given the lack of conflict and boring storyline. Instead of playing like an action thriller, reading the diary entries is like watching a turned off fan slowing in circles, tedious and dull.
3. Great Expectations
“Great Expectations follows the childhood and young adult years of Pip a blacksmith’s apprentice in a country village. He suddenly comes into a large fortune (his great expectations) from a mysterious benefactor and moves to London where he enters high society.”
The premise is not relevant to the society we live in today and so it should not be read by kids in high school. Overall, it is a boring and pointless work of literature. It is poorly written, uninteresting, the characters are unlikable, and had very little theme or characterization. As with most writing by Charles Dickens, it lacks everything that makes a novel truly great. His prose is dense, sprawling, and unseemly as sentences are connected by ugly semicolons and do not flow beautifully at all. To sum it up, unlike his style, it is not worth it.
4. Moby Dick
“Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is an 1851 novel by American writer Herman Melville. The book is the sailor Ishmael’s narrative of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaling ship Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the giant white sperm whale that on the ship’s previous voyage bit off Ahab’s leg at the knee.”
Perhaps one of the most famous revenge stories known in Western culture, it is also known for its unending descriptions, details, and lack of story. There are whole chapters just about the species of whale and about the symbolism of the color white. Moby Dick is a perfect example of why authors should not be paid by the number of words, rather that literature should be valued for its content. It repels the reading and makes Spark Notes one of the most searched websites.
5. Romeo And Juliet
“Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare early in his career about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families.”
And that’s it folks, wrapped up in one sentence. A sentence, by the way, that they say within the first ten lines of the play. A boy and a girl from feuding families fall in love and it ends in a double suicide. Why would anyone want to compare their own love life to that? Most of their relationship they spend apart and then they both die. In no way is this a grand romance, it is actually making fun of how stupid teenagers can be.
6. 50 Shades Of Grey Series
“50 Shades Of Grey Series is a series that follows the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey.”
First off, it is well known and proven that 50 Shades Of Grey started out as and continued to be a Twilight Saga fanfiction. Second, this representation of “BDSM” (bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism) is horrible, disgusting, and inaccurate. Third, because of the inaccuracies with BDSM, this book condones abuse, manipulation, and rape. Fourth, it is horribly written and sometimes incoherent. Fifth, this should not even be considered a work of literature.
7. Angel of Vengeance
“LA-based P.I. and vampire Mick Angel has been hired by a beautiful red-headed burlesque dancer to find her missing sister. But the apparently simple case of a teenage runaway is soon complicated by drug dealers, persistent cops, murder, and Mick’s own past. Mick must learn the hard way what every vampire should know – nothing stays buried forever, especially not the past.”
“Novel that inspired Moonlight” my ass. Moonlight, an amazing tv series from 2007 that was cut short by that year’s writer’s strike, was saved from Trevor O. Munson by brilliant writer Ron Koslow, (known for the 1987 tv series Beauty And The Beast). Angel Of Vengeance is straight out of a fourteen-year-old’s wet-dream. Mick Angel drives a red vintage car, used to play in a jazz band, is a drug addict, and is portrayed as a fedora-wearing “tough guy”. It is such a stereotype it hurts and this shallow as a kiddie pool description is as much depth as you get. It is one thing if you are trying to pay homage to a classic P.I. novel, it is another to have a flat character. In addition to horribly boring characters who fit into perfect little boxes, the writing is truly terrible. The phrase “call me old fashioned” is used just about every chapter and then something is written only to have “which didn’t need to be said” right after. Unlike Mick trying to save the day, there is no saving grace to this book. Seriously, the worst piece of literature I have ever read.
8. The Notebook
“The Notebook is a 1996 romantic novel by American novelist Nicholas Sparks. It opens in a nursing home with an elder Noah reading to an Alzheimer’s suffering Allie. The flashback scenes follow the part in their relationship where they get reunited and never part again.”
Unlike the amazing 2004 movie, The Notebook is underdeveloped and underwhelming. The flashbacks only range a couple days, the part where Allie is engaged but goes back to Noah. Other than that, there are really quick scenes about them in the nursing home and then ends with Allie passing away but not Noah. Overall, the hype of the story is for the movie and the literature is not worth the read.
9. Paper Towns
“Paper Towns is a novel written by John Green. The novel is about the coming-of-age of the protagonist, Quentin “Q” Jacobsen, and his search for Margo Roth Spiegelman, his neighbor and childhood sweetheart. During his search, Quentin and his friends Ben, Radar, and Lacey, discover information about Margo.”
Paper Towns, in my opinion, is trash. I honestly feel like it was the first-ever roughest draft of Looking For Alaska. Miles and Q are very, very similar, but in this case, Q has no character development. His obsession with Margo is creepy and unwarranted. And I think it is extremely far fetched that just hours before their once-in-a-lifetime graduation from high school, a group of three students just skip town to hunt down a girl who legitimately does not want to be found. If you want to read John Green, read Looking For Alaska or The Fault In Our Stars.
10. Twilight Saga
“The Twilight Saga by Stephine Myer are four books that chart the later teen years of Isabella Swan, a girl who moves to Forks, Washington, from Arizona and falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen.”
It was later announced that the “werewolves” in the books are actually shapeshifters, so it is fair to say that the “vampires” are really something else, like fairies. Just as there are no redeeming qualities about the characters, there are no redeeming qualities about the books. In fact, the books are a clear pro representation of controlling, manipulative, and abusive relationships. Many of the actions done by both Edward and Jacob are a far cry from healthy and supportive… if my girl friend was in the same situation, I would tell her to instantly end the relationship and maybe even call the police. Bella is one of the most non-descript, non-realistic, flat characters the literary world has ever seen. Please, for the love of vampires, let these books die.
What you should read instead…
1. The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
“Andy Dufresne is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover and is sentenced to a tough prison. However, only Andy knows he didn’t commit the crimes. While there, he forms a friendship with Red, experiences the brutality of prison life, adapts, helps the warden, etc., all in 19 years.”
A really fantastic read.
2. Dark Lover by J. R. Ward
“In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other – six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing their enemies more than Wrath, the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood….
The only pureblood vampire left on the planet, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed – orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate – Wrath must usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead….
Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helped against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His takes of brotherhood and blood frighten her. But his touch ignites a dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both….”
One of the best vampire stories I have ever read.
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Named one of the New York Public Library’s Books Of The Century and one of Time Magazine’s All-Time 100 Novels.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at the time when The New York Times noted ‘gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession’, it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920’s. The Great Gatsby is a true classic of twentieth-century literature.”
A classic truly worth the read.
4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
“In Carthage, Mo., former New York-based writer Nick Dunne and his glamorous wife Amy present a portrait of a blissful marriage to the public. However, when Amy goes missing on the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary, Nick becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. The resulting police pressure and media frenzy cause the Dunnes’ image of a happy union to crumble, leading to tantalizing questions about who Nick and Amy truly are.”
A fantastic tale of revenge.
5. The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
“Who Could have guessed that four minutes could change everything?
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.
A long night on the plane passed in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?
Set over a twenty-four hour period, this is a cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves.”
A tale of love at first sight that is worth the read.
6. Lover Unbound by J. R. Ward
“In Caldwell, New York, war rages between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers – six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Now the cold heart of a cunning predator will be warmed against his will….
Ruthless and brilliant, Vishous, son of the Bloodletter, possesses a destructive curse and a frightening ability to see the future. As a pretrans growing up in his father’s war camp, he was tormented and abused. As a member of the Brotherhood, he has no interest in love or emotion, only the battle with the Lessening Society. But when a mortal injury puts him in the care of a human surgeon, Dr. Jane Whitcomb compels him to reveal his inner pain and taste true pleasure for the first time – until a destiny he didn’t choose takes him into a future that cannot include her….”
An amazing and accurate representation of BDSM.
7. Lover Eternal by J. R. Ward
“In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war raging between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other – six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Possessed by a deadly beast, Rhage is the most dangerous of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He’s the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover – for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Owned by this dark side, Rhage fears the times when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.
Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships, is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant on Rhage’s protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. She lost her faith in miracles years ago. But when Rhage’s intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves….”
Literally my favorite book. 100/10 would recommend.
8. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
“Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.
Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).
But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.
Because here’s the thing – if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?”
A very fun and relevant read!
9. Looking For Alaska by John Green
“Before: Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (Francois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, crewed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After: Nothing is ever the same.”
One of the best John Green books.
10. Lover Revealed by J. R. Ward
“In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a war raging between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other – six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. But now an alley of the Brotherhood is about to encounter his own dark desires….
Butch O’Neal is a fighter by nature. A hard-living ex-homicide cop, he’s the only human ever to be allowed in the inner circle of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And he wants to go even deeper into the vampire world – to engage in the turf war with the lesser. He’s got nothing to lose. His heart belongs to a female vampire, an aristocratic beauty who’s way out of his league. If he can’t have Marissa, then at least he can fight side by side with the Brothers….
Fate curses him with the very thing he wants. When Butch sacrifices himself to save a civilian vampire from the slayers, he falls prey to the darkest force in the war. Left for dead, he’s found by a miracle, and the Brotherhood calls on Marissa to bring him back. But even her love may not be enough to save him….”
A human and a vampire, a love story with plenty of against. 1,000,000% better than Twilight.
To Read Or Not To Read
In the world of binge-watching, hand-held video games, and constantly streaming music, let us not forget one of the best forms of storytelling. From e-readers to hardcovers, from audiobooks to paperback collections, the world of literature is at your fingertips. But your time is valuable. So, if you have any other books not worth our time comment below!
Author | English Major | #RealLifeBelle | Academic Romance | "This was no accident, this was a therapeutic chain of events." | www.TheMousyGirl.com