A book you love and one you didn’t.
Asking a bibliophile to choose is like asking a parent which their favorite child is. When I claim to be a book lover, I really mean that I devour literature at an alarming rate. In junior high school I had an English teacher who asked us to quantify our reading list for the semester. I read 18 books, 2 shy of my lofty even 20 goal. (Ironically I received a low grade on the assignment for not completing the full 20, while my peers who achieved their lowly targets of 2 and 3 got full marks. I think the ridiculous inequity made my poor mother lose her mind.)
I’ll start with the one I didn’t love, because I’d prefer to conclude this post on a positive note. And because I really, really detested E.L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. I’ll admit, I couldn’t even get through the whole book. That’s saying something because even if I don’t like a novel I usually stick it out to the end. I hate abandoning one unfinished, but I couldn’t force myself to keep turning the pages. I am thrilled that I borrowed it from a friend and didn’t support the franchise. That’s how much I despised it.
I realize that this book-turned-movie became a pop phenomenon by supposedly depicting the eroticism of the dominant/submissive role play. Yeah, NO. This is misogyny at its worst. It glorifies control and exploitation. Christian ruthlessly stalks and manipulates Ana, treating her like a possession. He systematically isolates her from her family and friends. He sexually assaults her after she clearly says no. I’m not denouncing fetishism, but this is not a description of consensual proclivities. The entire book exalts both physical and emotional abuse, plain and simple. It’s disgusting and a slap in the face to all of us who have suffered this kind of misuse. For the love of all things holy, why can’t people see that this kind of crap promotes rape culture? I. Can’t. Even.
Moving right along…
My standard answer to the “favorite” question is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve re-read this book; my original paperback copy has become so ragged that I ended up purchasing a used hard copy at a book sale a couple of years ago. Despite the fact that the pages are falling out, I’ve kept the paperback as well. I just don’t have the heart to discard my old, tattered friend.
There are so many things that speak to me in this book. At face value the society that Huxley portrays seems ridiculous, laughable. However, it’s a rather poignant warning on classism and dominion. The idea that stability and conformity are better (read: more controllable) than individuality, creativity and free thinking is frightening. In this brave new world, I would definitely be an aberration, for individual action and solitude are considered deviant behaviors. While mindless socializing is encouraged, emotional relationships of any depth are obsolete, even vulgar. Ridiculous, right? Yet, here we are in the 21st century heading down that path – social media is replacing relationships. (Don’t get me started, we’ve been down that road before.)
There’s so much more I could say about this book. Maybe you should just read it.