Yes, you read that title correctly. Stop reading through those silly book lists. It seems that everywhere you look, there is another "Top 100" book list preying upon unsuspecting souls to rope into their evil plot to make you read books you wouldn't read normally, and definitely wouldn't enjoy. Now, I'm not against books. In fact, I love books. I am filled with admiration for well-written, high-quality work, no matter which century produced it. My love for literature is so great that I majored in the most low-paying degree possible: English Literature. Did you know that you can't really do anything with this degree? No, neither did I, or at least it didn't matter as a 20-year-old idealist. Now it does. But not then. Anyway, back to the reason you're reading this article... why on earth would someone advise against reading the Top 100 best books of all time? Well, I will lay it out for you.
Every list is different. Yes, that's right. There's not just one all-powerful, Holy Grail list. Each one is made by a different person or organization, and everyone has different taste in literature. Granted, there are some overlaps, and a few works that appear on every list. My husband and I got into "Top 100" lists at some point in our life together, and I compiled five different lists into one, taking the books that appeared on more than one list first, and then the final 30 or so we just picked which ones we thought we may want to read. However, only a handful of these must-read books appeared on every single list. The rest were completely different, and many were obscure titles for niche audiences.
Ulysses. Need I say more? Oh, so you haven't heard of Ulysses by James Joyce? Well, then you obviously haven't read through a top 100 list, and should run away screaming now while you can. If you're already screaming, you've read it, or at least tried, and you already know what I'm talking about. Ulysses is a "ground-breaking" work written in the early 1900s by a novelist names James Joyce. He experimented with a new type of writing called "stream of consciousness," which is mostly just a narration of someone's thoughts. A short book of listening in on someone's thoughts is bearable, but 800 pages of it no less than a nightmare. And, there's no way to get out of reading Ulysses because it is on literally everyone's list for English or modern literature. There is no escape.
You won't like all the books. In fact, you'll despise many of them. But you'll keep going out of a sense of duty, and waste valuable time in the process. You could be sleeping or doing something to be a productive member of society. You could even be doing something fun. Instead, you're sitting in your chair, struggling through a book by someone who should never have picked up a pen, and moaning like a creepy ghost. You'll scare everyone around, especially small children. Like I said, all the lists are different, and there are some bizarre and downright terrible works on each.
Is that not enough? Well, if you aren't frightened off already, I don't know what else I can say to convince you to stay far, far away from top 100 book lists. And, since most people don't listen to wise advice when offered, I suppose I should give you something to maintain your sanity in your "Top 100" quests. So, whether you choose one list to read through, or make your own compilation of several as I did, I have one bit of advice for you.
If you don't like it, don't finish it. Yep, that's it. If you're on a book that you're just struggling through to be able to say you've read it, just stop. Don't finish the chapter, don't continue in the hopes it may get better. Just put it down, and skip to the next one. That's it! Life's too short to read a book you hate.
Disclaimer: I am not a teacher or professor, but I have great respect for those who are. Therefore, if you're reading a book for class and hate it, suck it up and finish. My advice is not for you. You are indentured servants and are not in control of your own reading lives.