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21 Books You Don't Have to Read (part 1)

Apr 24 2018

While enjoying some down time on the internet recently, my attention was drawn to “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read”, an article originally published in the bastion of academic excellence known as Gentlemen’s Quarterly. Yes, right there between “That Weird and Wild Denim Shirt is a Crucial Spring Style Choice” and “LeBron James and the Cavs Have Just Murdered the NBA Style Wars” was a list of classic literature that today’s hip man doesn’t ever need to be exposed to. Who better to critique world literature than the people who, 35 years ago, gave us the mullet, a hairstyle originally called the GQ.

Clearly the article was written by people who had the Trunchbull as their high school English teacher. How else could they have developed so much disdain for so many classics. Catcher in the Rye, Gulliver’s Travels, The Old Man and the Sea were all deemed unworthy by the literary giants who make up the Gentlemen’s Quarterly editorial staff.

But the poorly masked ignorance in this article crossed a line with three books in particular. First, they were relentless with the only true ‘great American novel’ ever written: Huckleberry Finn. They complained about the meandering storyline. Hello! It’s a story about a journey, so of course there will be twists and turns in the plot just as surely as Huck and Jim encountered twists and turns on the mighty Mississippi River. If the editors of GQ couldn’t follow the storyline, there are adapted versions of this masterpiece with simplified vocabulary and lots of pictures to help their comprehension.

Worse, though, was their accusation that Mark Twain was racist. Huckleberry Finn has arguably the most positive portrayal of a Black character from any literature of its time period, especially literature written by a Southern White man. Sorry, pretty boys of GQ, but the world hasn’t always been the politically correct world of 2018 America you reside in.

Secondly, GQ had the nerve to include Bram Stoker’s Dracula on their list of unworthy literature. Dracula! Perhaps, with all the critiquing of NBA fashion and the pursuit of the weirdest and wildest denim shirts, the only vampire literature they got around to reading was the Twilight series. But, when it comes to vampires, give me suspense and Transylvania over teen romance and Forks, Washington any day.

But even these two academic injustices might not have motivated me to write this blog. It was the inclusion of the Bible as a book that doesn’t deserve our time or attention that was the last straw. My response to that will be in my next blog.

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