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twilight, and all its sequels.

Dark Puss

Can I make a strong plea that we never haver NTBR books. That way lies true darkness, censorship and the destruction of civilisations.


Controversial but - Howard's End on the Landing. Anything else but Angela Carter or James Joyce. See, everyone is different and I am sure i have offended half the readership of your lovely blog!

Simon (Savidge Reads)

A week ago I would have said the Twilight Saga, what goes and happens though? You guessed it I end up accidentally reading some and then whoops am addicted. So unimpressed with myself. Any other NTBR's Martin Amis would be one after reading the dire London Fields. Though really I shouldnt write off an author after one boko I didnt care for.


Just to clarify, this is essentially a very light-hearted question, and I trust no civilisations will be destroyed in the asking or answering of it!
But do we not all exercise taste (informed, flawed, etc.) and a degree of discrimination whenever we choose a book, else we'd be forever picking up the very first one we come to when we enter the shop or library? In that case we pass over some books, for good, bad or indifferent reasons, and choose to read others, so we are mentally sifting all the time, and as we cannot read all the books in the world we simply must rule some books in and others out.
Further, and I can't resist a leg-pull here, DP, you operate a kind of NTBR list every month if the CBG book isn't in your library, so on grounds of availability (no better/worse than our usual prejudiced - i.e. prejudged - choices) you avoid reading certain books because you have artificially narrowed the group from which you select!


No offence taken here, Abs! I think that's just perfectly normal: I might love something, you might hate it, but we can live with it!
Also, it's always good when someone else shares your enthusiasm for a book because if you get pleasure from it, you hope others will too and it's disappointing if they don't see what you find so wonderful about it, but we can't all like the same things ...


Ooh yes Martin Amis for me too, I've read London Fields, I didn't actually hate it but the man has since been so opinionated in such an obnoxious way I can't bear to read any more because I'd just see him in my mind all the time.

Any horror novels-I used to read them as a teenager but I've got soft since then, and I have bad enough nightmares as it is. Similar reasons for not reading Cormac Maccarthy, but I'm being worn down on that front by partner.

Sarah Waters-I'd like to apologise to her now because I've no idea why, but in my head I'm positive I won't like her novels. It's like when I didn't apply to Bristol uni back in the day because, having never been there, I had this idea I wouldn't like it (changed my mind since!). Maybe I'll have a go one day in a holiday cottage when I've run out of things to read but other than that I can't see it happening-too much on the TBR pile ahead of it.


Norman Mailer! I'm sorry he just sounds like a horrible man who hates women and writes horrible books about why that is ok. Also 'Wetlands' (horrible intimate shaving accidnet = oww and throwing up).

Laughs heartily at seeing another person with decent taste addicted to Twilight.


Off the top of my head there isn't any particular author that I would refuse to read but I have to say there are genres. Lovely men who visit my circulation desk at the library and go on and on about political thrillers have no idea that in my head, behind the smile, I'm thinking 'not on your bloody life'.


Anything by Dan Brown. And I do mean anything.


Funny! Yes I do have a NTBR list, and I've even informed my own book club of a few things on it, such as:

Twilight books
Pride and Prejudice and zombies and the like
anything by Gregory Macguire

Mary McCartney

Fantasy, horror or science fiction. Any book that has a woman wrapped in a shawl on the front cover.

Dark Puss

A light-hearted question but one I feel very very passionate about. I'll not spoil your weblog by further polemic as it would be inappropriate. However I will make a couple of pertinant points. I do borrow a few library books at random precisely to see whether such an approach leads to exciting, or apalling, new discoveries. I am also intellectually opposed to the N in NTBR and rule out no books, authors or genre as a matter of principle. Of course I make choices, based on experience, recommendation, prejudice for most of my reading matter but not all of it.

Your leg pull is fair enough, but at least my non-reading is probably uncorrelated with your choice of book.


What an interesting post. I had to think quite hard about it before coming up with a shortlist of NTBR.

I wondered, like you, why we might place books in this category;
* fear (that the book might defeat us)
* perception of it being too lowbrow
* read something else by the author - didn't like him/her (as in the Martin Amis aversion - I share this by the way)
* influenced by film/television
* gut feelings (our group enthused about a Hunter Davies - I couldn't get past page 10)
* might be recommended by someone whose literary perceptions we don't trust.

There are probably many more reasons.

On my NTBR list? Anything with Mills & Boon on the cover (snobbish, I know.) Chic lit. Political history. Autobiographies (nearly always disappointing.) Low calibre books for children (as an ex-infant teacher, I am horrified at the amount of rubbish that's available; luckily plenty of good stuff too.)

There's never going to be enough time to read all that we want to; let's not waste it on unenjoyable tomes.

adele geras

Well, I'm allergic to Tolkien and don't like CS Lewis and I steer well clear of Ulysses and other James Joyce but I am jumping up and down about Sarah Waters/Angela Carter and to a lesser extent, because I can't read all of him, Cormac McCarthy. I love them!

I don't fancy Twilight AT ALL and steer clear of a lot of over the toply revolting crime.Can't read Hayder any longer with much pleasure and have not liked Karin Slaughter and wouldn't go near Chelsea Cain...etc. Other than that, I'll try most things though I have a very short probation period: if I'm not enjoying it after about 50 pages I give it up with NO GUILT whatsoever and it doesn't matter whether it's a well-loved masterpiece or the latest bit of schlock!


It's the Twilight for me as well, I have absolutely no interest at all, but I am always amused that people swear to never read it, and then instantly become addicted.


My NTBR stems from childhood- Dickens. Read aloud to me when I was much too young I have avoided him ever since. One day, I tell myself, I will try but even watching serializations on TV of his books are not really enjoyable. I will try....but it all brings back memories of those intolerable sessions every winter at 9, 10, 11 yrs old.....


Having spent all my working life with books, selling them and writing about them, I will read almost anything if I can see a point to it. The point being I'll enjoy it or it is important in literary history and I need to have read it, or it is important for social/cultural history. Because of this I regularly make my self read stuff I don't like, D H Lawrence and Thomas Hardy for example. I feel the need to keep analysing why I don't like them and though I don't enjoy the read I still enjoy thinking about or discussing them afterwards. I have tangled with everything from James Joyce and Richardson's Clarissa to Dan Brown and Twilight. The only thing I really struggle with is the tramlines of current middle brow fiction, people like Kate Mosse, Victoria Hislop, Anita Shreve, though I have read at least one complete work by all of them. Unlike the edgier middle brow works of Dan Brown and Twilight these books are predictable, formulaic, charmless and hard to remember. It is not even interesting to discuss how bad they are. If I was in a reading group such books would make me groan and want to skip a week, but I will read almost anything. This does not mean I rate all books the same, far from it, I rather like the elite nature of the Western canon, I just love the world library and how it all fits together.

Dark Puss

Juxtabook, I salute you! Your post exactly states my own point of view but without the political edge that I guess prompted Cornflower's entirely justified response to my first posting. If only I had more literary talent and less hot-headedness.


Oh, Victoria Hislop is absolutely on my NTBR list. I persevered through The Island because people kept telling me how good it was, but I loathed it.

I'm never planning to read the Da Vinci Code or other Dan Brown novels. Nor any more Thomas Hardy or Dickens - life is too short and there are too many other things I actually want to read.

Linda Gillard

I've never read any HARRY POTTER and never will. The idea of the books bored me to death very early on and I didn't really like the way the books became "fashionable" in schools. (I was a primary teacher when the first one appeared.)

I will never read anything by or about Katie Price or anyone who has anything to do with football. (Sorry Hunter Davies.)

I am also resolved never to read any novel with a cover that features a woman standing on one leg with the other one bent at the knee, cocked in the air. (Sorry Joan Bakewell.)


I like what Juxtabook's written. For me it would have to be sensationalised misery memoirs. No interest at all. Not to say they are bad or anything as a lot of people I know read them, just that I want to enjoy what I read. Oh, and sports books.


I raise a paw to you too Dark Puss. It is like explorers who climb mountains 'because they're there'. I can't pass any book by completely because I am not sure I am not missing something.


Actually Dan Brown is quite interesting. It is a bit like a car with poor design and styling but a supercharged engine underneath. He is shockingly bad at both word and sentence level but the overall construction of his books is a wonder to behold. It is like he breaks chapters into threes, if a chapter is natural break - the point where you normally say I can put the light out or make a cup of tea. Dan Brown's construction prevents this by moving the natural breaks from the ends of chapters. He overlays three events (often three) and interlaces them so the natural break for one thread of the narative is cut across by strong narrative propulsion for another thread. The end result is that you walk round the house trying to cook, clean and sell books whilst still clutching your Dan Brown novel because you literally cannot put it down. Shockingly bad prose but some real structural wizardry.


How interesting, Catherine! I've never read Dan Brown, but you may just have 'converted' a lot of people with this analysis!


I do have a NTBR list--and it's fairly long. My TBR list will last me until I'm at least 800 years old, so why should I not linger there?

I have read enough about my NTBR books and have read excerpts from many to convince me that it would not be fruitful to pursue them.


The Kite Runner is on my NTBR list for what may seem like a silly reason - the author's agent once fired me very unfairly, and I determined I would never buy or read a book written by one of her clients so as not to enrich her. Once my book group really wanted to read it so I said they could so long as everyone promised to get the book from the library, but I boycotted that month. My one exception was when a good friend she represented was published. I did buy his book but was vindicated when she dumped him soon after.

Otherwise, I have eclectic taste: have read and enjoyed Enid Blyton and Mills & Boons (huge weakness for Mary Burchell) and now enjoy historical fiction, literary fiction, and mysteries.

Barbara MacLeod

What an interesting question! I simply cannot imagine having a Never To Be Read pile. I really, really tried to think about this and come up with something. The only thing I can say is that I probably would not read a book (we are talking fiction here) I was made to read at some point at school or university and did not enjoy. Therefore Gulliver's Travels would be my offering.
I recall having to read The Count of Monte Cristo in French about age 15. Eaghghgh! However I found a paperback (English) in a lovely second-hand bookstore in Ashland Oregon last year and absolutely loved it to read on holiday!


At the risk of being screamed at and excoriated when I write the next sentence (and it always happens to me when I say this)...anything that is on the Booker Long List. I have tried oh so hard over the years to read some, if not all, of the books and with the odd exception I find most of them incredibly tedious and am filled with amazement that any of them made the list at all.

However, perhaps this is not the right place to put this response, as I do keep trying and have the Children's Room awaiting my attention.

Ulysses - tried so many times and have now given up. Salman Rushdie - got two pages in and that was that
Dan Brown - I am sure his plots are fine but I find him unreadable, literally, I physically wince and have to shut the book up
Virginia Woolf - yes I know....but gosh she is SO dreary

think that is enough to be getting on with and I am now going to hide behind the sofa

Julie Fredericksen

On my current NTBR list:"The Shack" by William P. Young, "The Laws of Attraction" and "Going Rogue", Sarah Palin's book. All are or were best sellers. Perfect proof that a best seller is not necessarily a good book.

Do any of you also have a WIHR (Wish I Hadn't Read) list? My book club read "The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen. It was torturous. Alas, I have no one to blame for the fact that I read "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle. Also on my WIHR list: any book by Danielle Steele.

Dark Puss

Julie, if you are a "Cornflower Regular" you will know that Dark Puss has no sort of lists related to books (TBR/NTBR/WIHR etc.) so in a strict sense no. Actually there are no books at all that I can recall being in the WIHR category. There are certainly some I will not re-read, and some which gave little pleasure and quite a few that I have given up on after 20 pages or a couple of chapters. My philosophy, which is to approach literature with as open a mind and a very broad range of genre, isn't really compatible with any of these lists. If you force me to name a book then perhaps The Decameron comes closest.


Oh please, Dark Puss, don't imply that your "philosophy" of open-mindedness puts the rest of us who enjoy games of lists on the list of those with closed minds. Sorry, I guess this is rude, but that sort of attitude is one reason I don't go to book clubs anymore--some kind of one-upping always ready to show itself. Inspired by Elaine's daring post, I'll say I avoid most American fiction of the last 50 years or so--shallow, drearily grim or nauseatingly "down-home" folksy, narrow in vision, assuming the writer's range of existence pretty much covers anything worth noting--e.g. Joyce Carol Oates, for one. Of course there are exceptions, such as Ivan Doig's This House of Sky, and others that slip my mind at the moment, but I just don't look to American fiction to suit my taste and interests. (I'm obviously a Yank, which is why the issue arises for me.) So thanks for the game, and thanks to those who entered into the spirit of it. Kate in Oregon.

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