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10 Books Not To Read Before You Die


Jenjie

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The producer of at least three television shows that you may quite like shares with us his definitive list of books that just aren't worth the bother

 

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Richard Wilson

Recommended lists of ‘essential’ reading are the most pernicious ‘to do’ lists of all. Lists of physical achievements or magical holiday destinations or wonderful restaurants or fabulous hotels make you feel like your life has been wasted; a list of great books you should have read makes you feel like your brain has been wasted.

 

Most people embarking on a journey into a new book will feel they have to hack through a hundred pages of dense undergrowth before their conscience will allow them to give it up as a lost cause. But how many people feel secure enough in their own judgment even to do that? How many times have we all ploughed on to the end to find there’s actually no treasure after all? A book, even a useless one, can take several days out of your life so it’s a big investment.

 

The best way to fight the massed ranks of recommended books is with an offensively glib and, if possible, ill-informed reason for not bothering with them.

 

10: Ulysses – James Joyce

 

There’s a brilliant scene in the much-underrated sitcom It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum, when Sergeant Major Williams (Windsor Davies) snatches a book from Mr La-di-dah Gunner Graham and says:

 

‘What’s this you’re reading? Useless?’

 

‘Ulysses, Sergeant Major.’

 

At school I remember my English teacher saying that he knew no one who had managed to get to the end of it. It does sound rubbish, doesn’t it? I’d have thought it was the duty of a great book to drag you along to the last page. But in a way, that’s good to know: if it’s famously hard going you have the perfect excuse not to bother with it.

 

9: Lord of the Rings – J R R Tolkien

 

The best I can say about this book is that it was a very useful tool at school for helping to choose your friends. Carrying a copy of Tolkien’s monstrous tome was the equivalent of a leper’s bell: ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ I knew I would have nothing in common with anyone who had read it. Their taste in music, clothes, television, everything was predetermined by their devotion to Gandalf. Without a shadow of a doubt, in a few years, these people would be going to Peter Gabriel gigs and reading Dune.

 

8: For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway

 

The Hemingway style is impressive at first. Simple sentences with few descriptions. They avoid adverbs and adjectives and, as a change from the over-elaborate works of Dickens and Austen, it’s OK for a while. Then you realise it’s a bit dry and boring and the more you find out about Hemingway, the more you realise he was a bore too: a terrible macho bore obsessed with bullfighting, guns, boxing and trying to catch big fish; really quite a tiresome bloke you wouldn’t want to spend time with.

 

7: À la Recherche du Temps Perdu – Marcel Proust

 

Yes, yes, he tasted a biscuit that made him think of childhood, we’ve all done that. If I want to remember my childhood I look at some photographs.

 

6: The Dice Man – Luke Reinhart

 

Basically, this fairly unpleasant bloke does whatever his dice tell him to do, which is often quite terrible. But there’s a flaw in the structure of this book. He writes down an option for each number of the dice and then lets the dice decide what he should do. ‘Throw a six and rape the woman upstairs’?! How did that get on his list of things to do? If he’d written down, ‘Throw a six and have three crispy pancakes for tea’ he wouldn’t have got into so much trouble.

 

5: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S Thompson

 

Dreary ramblings of an unreliable and workshy tosspot. Its sole distinction consists in the creation of ‘Gonzo journalism’, which made it OK for journalists, particularly rock journalists, to get shit-faced with whoever they happened to be writing about.

 

4: The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolff

 

I don’t know if Naomi is a genuine academic – I couldn’t be arsed to Google her – if she is, she is probably Emeritus Professor of the bleeding obvious. The Beauty Myth is about how women feel under pressure to look good and lose weight. There you go. That’s it. I could get a similarly sophisticated level of socio-political analysis from the fishwives on Loose Women.

 

3: War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

 

Way, way too long.

 

2: The Iliad -- Homer

 

The very idea that you are somehow culturally incomplete without knowledge of Homer is ridiculous. The Iliad is one of the most boring books ever written and it’s not just a boring book, it’s a boring epic poem; all repetitive battle scenes with a lot of reproaching and challenging and utterances escaping the barrier of one’s teeth and nostrils filling with dirt and helmet plumes nodding menacingly. There’s a big fight between Achilles and Hector and that’s about it.

 

1: Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

 

From what I can gather it’s Mills and Boon from the olden days, and really boring Mills and Boon at that. I did try reading a Jane Austen novel once, but it hadn’t got going by fifty pages so I guiltily gave up; the characters spoke in a very oblique way and it seemed to be all about hypocrisy and manners and convention; worse than that, it was really difficult to find the doing word in a sentence.

 

Taken From Can’t Be Arsed: 101 Things Not to Do Before You Die by Richard Wilson (Portico Books, £9.99). Illustrations © Jack Noel.

 

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/book_extracts/article4773601.ece?token=null&offset=12&page=2

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Anyone been watching "Lost In Austen" or "Tess of the D'Urbervilles"??:rolleyes:

 

would have watched Lost in Austen but it clashes with Who Do You Think You Are

 

would have watched the first episode of Tess but it clashed with Bring Back Star Wars

 

I have every intention of watching Wuthering Heights, but can probably guarantee that'll clash with something too

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would have watched Lost in Austen but it clashes with Who Do You Think You Are

 

would have watched the first episode of Tess but it clashed with Bring Back Star Wars

 

I have every intention of watching Wuthering Heights, but can probably guarantee that'll clash with something too

 

Have you still not got any recording devices??:stunned:

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Oh, just read the damn column

 

Been there, done that, and now I can't be botheredCarol Midgley

Sometimes I need only glance at the title of a book and immediately I hate the author. This is because it is such a brilliant idea that I wish I'd thought of it myself but didn't get round to it because I was too busy checking the Coronation Street website or wondering whether I should put another wash on.

 

It's the same now with Richard Wilson, whose new book Can't Be Arsed: 101 Things Not To Do Before You Die makes me want to kick my own backside around the room until it's black, blue and begging for mercy.

 

Why didn't I write this book? It so obviously needed saying that “experiences” such as seeing the Pyramids and showering in a waterfall are overrated. Apathy is underrated, as anyone who has had to sit through a holiday bore's sightseeing checklist will tell you. I can't be arsed to do most things: it's my one specialist subject.

 

There is no parallel universe in which I could be persuaded of the value of white-water rafting, or having sex on an aeroplane, or wing-walking, or cheese-rolling, or naked bungee jumping, or sitting in a bathtub of baked beans. But because I couldn't be arsed, someone else has snuck in and written the book about not being arsed - which is probably what's known as poetic justice.

 

So today I'm going to come up with a different list, entitled: Can't Be Arsed - 29 Things That I Couldn't Give a Toss If I Never Did Again. Why 29? I couldn't be fagged thinking up 30. Right, so:

 

1 Attend the Glastonbury Festival. The only pleasure left to be gained from Glastonbury is watching it on television, hoping to spot people doing that hopping thing which means that they need to go to the toilet but can't face entering a small, foul plastic box that smells like Satan's colon.

 

2 Drink a Tequila slammer down in one. The most overhyped drinking experience ever, which merely makes people pull a gurning face before, eventually, vomiting.

 

3 Eat sushi. Yes, I hear you saying that it's the “ultimate healthy fast food”. But it's disgusting. And some raw fish still contain live worms.

 

4 Have a consultation with a life coach. Unless, that is, you're researching a book entitled How to Get £50 an Hour for Stating the Bleeding Obvious.

 

5 Fly on a light aircraft. Would you entrust your life to an Airfix model? It's arguably safer to ride on a pigeon's back.

 

6 Feign an interest in the appreciating value of someone's house, especially in a dinner party setting.

 

7 Be in Trafalgar Square at midnight on New Year's Eve. Unless you really enjoy faux jollity and being forcibly kissed by halitotic strangers before walking home for two hours in the pouring rain.

 

8 Go for a meal at a celebrity chef's restaurant. It all just feels a bit desperate.

 

9 Go on any trip arranged by a holiday rep, thus achieving the worst day of your holiday paying top dollar to visit a tourist hellhole - whereupon the rep addresses you as if you have learning difficulties and advises you never to get off the coach anywhere because there might be pickpockets.

 

10 Queue to climb the Statue of Liberty. Then get to the top, see that you're surrounded by camcording tourists and realise that all New Yorkers think you're a complete tosser.

 

11 Become a student. Yes, university is “great fun” but I'd rather have my teeth extracted without anaesthetic than go through it again, thanks.

 

12 Attend a golfing weekend. I'm sorry, but this surely has to be the very antithesis of pleasure.

 

13 Attend the Cannes Film Festival as a reporting journalist. A definition of Hell.

 

14 See Michael Jackson in concert. Ditto. For professional reasons I once did this for three consecutive nights in the Far East. Few things are more terrifiying than encountering true Wacko devotees who want to be your friend.

 

15 Meet the cast of Friends. A riveting Q&A in which the ones who play Monica and Rachel revealed that they were “great buddies”, and the one who plays Ross confessed that he “enjoyed music by Sting”.

 

16 Hear any music by Status Quo.

 

17 See the Sex and the City movie. That's two and a half hours of my life I'll never get back.

 

18 Attend a fancy dress party. Any fancy dress party.

 

19 Read Katie Price's novel, Crystal, which I once did for work and thus, regretfully, know that it contains sentences such as “the shorts were so far up her bum cheeks, it must have felt like she was flossing her ...”etc, etc.

 

20 Attend a timeshare presentation. This is for losers.

 

21 Receive a letter from the bank saying “You have been specially selected for a £20,000 loan!” Translation: you're not in nearly enough debt for our liking and we won't be satisfied until you're wrapped in tinfoil under an Embankment bridge.

 

22 Ride on a rollercoaster. So last century.

 

23 Eat a chocolate liqueur. They're just wrong.

 

24 Eat at Harry's Bar in Venice. Has anywhere been so gobsmackingly overrated?

 

25 Visit Marrakesh, where the work horses are in such terrible condition that I spent most of the time in tears.

 

26 Buy or receive scented drawer-liners.

 

27 Attend a spin class. The horror, the horror.

 

28 Have a shaggy perm. See above.

 

29 Go on an 18-30 holiday. Which I can't any more, anyway. Good.

 

Anyone who wants to buy my exciting new book should order it the moment I get a publisher. Which I'm going to sort out immediately, probably, just as soon as I've finished eating this Twix.

 

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/carol_midgley/article4819842.ece

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not since the video went into the roof, no.

 

and I can't use the DVD recorder coz Ian has Sky SPorts of some variety or another on :smug:

 

So how come you haven't got Sky Plus?? That would solve all your problems instantly. DVD recorders are also now obsolete.:confused:

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Been there, done that, and now I can't be botheredCarol Midgley

Sometimes I need only glance at the title of a book and immediately I hate the author. This is because it is such a brilliant idea that I wish I'd thought of it myself but didn't get round to it because I was too busy checking the Coronation Street website or wondering whether I should put another wash on.

 

It's the same now with Richard Wilson, whose new book Can't Be Arsed: 101 Things Not To Do Before You Die makes me want to kick my own backside around the room until it's black, blue and begging for mercy.

 

Why didn't I write this book? It so obviously needed saying that “experiences” such as seeing the Pyramids and showering in a waterfall are overrated. Apathy is underrated, as anyone who has had to sit through a holiday bore's sightseeing checklist will tell you. I can't be arsed to do most things: it's my one specialist subject.

 

There is no parallel universe in which I could be persuaded of the value of white-water rafting, or having sex on an aeroplane, or wing-walking, or cheese-rolling, or naked bungee jumping, or sitting in a bathtub of baked beans. But because I couldn't be arsed, someone else has snuck in and written the book about not being arsed - which is probably what's known as poetic justice.

 

So today I'm going to come up with a different list, entitled: Can't Be Arsed - 29 Things That I Couldn't Give a Toss If I Never Did Again. Why 29? I couldn't be fagged thinking up 30. Right, so:

 

1 Attend the Glastonbury Festival. The only pleasure left to be gained from Glastonbury is watching it on television, hoping to spot people doing that hopping thing which means that they need to go to the toilet but can't face entering a small, foul plastic box that smells like Satan's colon.

 

2 Drink a Tequila slammer down in one. The most overhyped drinking experience ever, which merely makes people pull a gurning face before, eventually, vomiting.

 

3 Eat sushi. Yes, I hear you saying that it's the “ultimate healthy fast food”. But it's disgusting. And some raw fish still contain live worms.

 

4 Have a consultation with a life coach. Unless, that is, you're researching a book entitled How to Get £50 an Hour for Stating the Bleeding Obvious.

 

5 Fly on a light aircraft. Would you entrust your life to an Airfix model? It's arguably safer to ride on a pigeon's back.

 

6 Feign an interest in the appreciating value of someone's house, especially in a dinner party setting.

 

7 Be in Trafalgar Square at midnight on New Year's Eve. Unless you really enjoy faux jollity and being forcibly kissed by halitotic strangers before walking home for two hours in the pouring rain.

 

8 Go for a meal at a celebrity chef's restaurant. It all just feels a bit desperate.

 

9 Go on any trip arranged by a holiday rep, thus achieving the worst day of your holiday paying top dollar to visit a tourist hellhole - whereupon the rep addresses you as if you have learning difficulties and advises you never to get off the coach anywhere because there might be pickpockets.

 

10 Queue to climb the Statue of Liberty. Then get to the top, see that you're surrounded by camcording tourists and realise that all New Yorkers think you're a complete tosser.

 

11 Become a student. Yes, university is “great fun” but I'd rather have my teeth extracted without anaesthetic than go through it again, thanks.

 

12 Attend a golfing weekend. I'm sorry, but this surely has to be the very antithesis of pleasure.

 

13 Attend the Cannes Film Festival as a reporting journalist. A definition of Hell.

 

14 See Michael Jackson in concert. Ditto. For professional reasons I once did this for three consecutive nights in the Far East. Few things are more terrifiying than encountering true Wacko devotees who want to be your friend.

 

15 Meet the cast of Friends. A riveting Q&A in which the ones who play Monica and Rachel revealed that they were “great buddies”, and the one who plays Ross confessed that he “enjoyed music by Sting”.

 

16 Hear any music by Status Quo.

 

17 See the Sex and the City movie. That's two and a half hours of my life I'll never get back.

 

18 Attend a fancy dress party. Any fancy dress party.

 

19 Read Katie Price's novel, Crystal, which I once did for work and thus, regretfully, know that it contains sentences such as “the shorts were so far up her bum cheeks, it must have felt like she was flossing her ...”etc, etc.

 

20 Attend a timeshare presentation. This is for losers.

 

21 Receive a letter from the bank saying “You have been specially selected for a £20,000 loan!” Translation: you're not in nearly enough debt for our liking and we won't be satisfied until you're wrapped in tinfoil under an Embankment bridge.

 

22 Ride on a rollercoaster. So last century.

 

23 Eat a chocolate liqueur. They're just wrong.

 

24 Eat at Harry's Bar in Venice. Has anywhere been so gobsmackingly overrated?

 

25 Visit Marrakesh, where the work horses are in such terrible condition that I spent most of the time in tears.

 

26 Buy or receive scented drawer-liners.

 

27 Attend a spin class. The horror, the horror.

 

28 Have a shaggy perm. See above.

 

29 Go on an 18-30 holiday. Which I can't any more, anyway. Good.

 

Anyone who wants to buy my exciting new book should order it the moment I get a publisher. Which I'm going to sort out immediately, probably, just as soon as I've finished eating this Twix.

 

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/carol_midgley/article4819842.ece

 

That's hilarious!! And what's more, I agree with most of his examples!!:P

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So how come you haven't got Sky Plus?? That would solve all your problems instantly. DVD recorders are also now obsolete.:confused:

 

coz the boss won't buy it

 

Aren't the bills shared??:stunned:

 

Anyway, you can also get Freeview HD recorders. I got a second-hand one for my parents.;)

 

the Sky is Ian's treat to himself. and as i very rarely get to watch it, my contribution would be approx £1 a quarter

 

we have a freeview recorder but the tv upstairs is on a stand-alone aerial. we tried a digital aerial but it wasn't strong enough to get any of the channels

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coz the boss won't buy it

 

 

 

the Sky is Ian's treat to himself. and as i very rarely get to watch it, my contribution would be approx £1 a quarter

 

we have a freeview recorder but the tv upstairs is on a stand-alone aerial. we tried a digital aerial but it wasn't strong enough to get any of the channels

 

So you have no "traditional" external aerial??:confused:

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9: Lord of the Rings – J R R Tolkien

 

The best I can say about this book is that it was a very useful tool at school for helping to choose your friends. Carrying a copy of Tolkien’s monstrous tome was the equivalent of a leper’s bell: ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ I knew I would have nothing in common with anyone who had read it. Their taste in music, clothes, television, everything was predetermined by their devotion to Gandalf. Without a shadow of a doubt, in a few years, these people would be going to Peter Gabriel gigs and reading Dune.

 

Bulls**t.

 

 

And what's wrong with the brilliance that is Dune? :veryangry2:

 

And since when have geeks liked Peter Gabriel? :thinking:

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I thought Lord Of The Rings would be a great book!
It is. The best.

 

The Fellowship of the Ring was good. I got stuck in The Two Towers and never got any further.

 

The films are amazing though

Yeah, that happens to a lot of people. The descriptive stuff especially is there more for re-reading when there's time for really vivid world-building, it's ok to sort of skim over it your first time through. By book 3 it really picks up. And there's a lot of great stuff in the books that never made it into the movies (though I have to hand it to them, they really did try.)

 

^Yeah, they are, I love the firs one, the 2nd and 3rd dragged on in my opinion. The first kept me interested. I love Boromir, my Fave, why did he die? I hate his brother, but the way Boromir died was epic!

 

Oi! Faramir is my absolute favorite character in the whole book. Well, him and the book version of Merry. But he's awesome. :cool:

 

I take it you're referring to the movie versions, though? They totally butchered Faramir's character there. Probably the #1 thing that bugs me about the movies. Too much to even explain how much here. Though Sean Bean was all kinds of awesome, I have to say. :wink3: But there were all sorts of subtle undercurrents going on between the brothers and their father in the books that sort of got lost in translation. Not to mention they left out the whole part about Faramir looking after Eowyn when she was hurt and sort of going a bit crazy.

 

Trust me, he was a really sweet, noble, wise, caring sort of person, and he didn't do a lot of the things he does in the movies....

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Since he quit Genesis??:P
riiight.... so he was in Genesis? :thinking:

 

Still stands, though. Never met a geek, even at conventions, who was into him or Genesis. A few Led Zepplin fans, understandably, though they keep their heads down and their mouths shut. A LOT of Celtic music fans. A few Radiohead fans. But most geeks have very little in common musically- it's an extremely diverse crowd in that sense.

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