A group of GQ editors recently compiled a list of suggested replacements for classic works of literature they believed were due to be retired.
The resulting collection was published recently under the declarative headline, “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read.”
Among the harshly reviewed classic books was The Holy Bible, about which one editor could find little of redemptive value.
Introducing the list, the writers broadly explained what earned books a spot on their list.
“Some are racist and some are sexist, but most are just really, really boring,” they wrote.
Declaring themselves a “group of un-boring writers,” then gave readers “permission to strike these books from the canon.”
What resulted was a group of classic books, many of which have already been criticized by modern societal standards as offensive, and a brief argument to replace it with a more politically correct alternative.
The Holy Bible stood out among what were otherwise works of fiction, receiving a scathing write-up by novelist Jesse Ball.
He claimed that the book he panned is “rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it.”
Ball went on to acknowledge that “there are some good parts” in the Bible, but concluded that people “who have read it” understand that “it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced.”
The criticism grew harsher and more precise as Ball claimed it was “repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.”
Instead of the most widely distributed book in human history, Ball suggested readers ditch the Bible for “The Notebook,” a 1986 novel by Agota Kristof.
He said this book would fulfill the baser tendencies of readers who thought the only thing “good about the Bible was the nasty bits.”
It is unclear from his brief review which “bits” of the Bible he found “nasty” and why, but he said they could also be found in Kristof’s “marvelous tale of two brothers who have to get along when things get tough.”
Though Ball is particularly tough on a book with a central role in shaping the faith of billions over the span of millennia, he had glowing remarks for “The Notebook.”
He praised the “subtlety and cruelty of this story,” which he compared to “that famous sword stroke (from below the boat) that plunged upward through the bowels, the lungs, and the throat and into the brain of the rower.”
Among the 20 other classic works listed in the article, one book by Mark Twain occupied two positions. Two separate editors recommended trashing “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” with varying levels of vitriol.
Caity Weaver dismissed the novel as a “book of tedious, meandering stories” that portrayed blacks using insulting stereotypes.
Though she wants to see it replaced by “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” Weaver acknowledged Twain’s “richly entertaining” work in other books.
Tommy Orange, however, was more dismissive of the author’s work as a whole.
“Mark Twain was a racist,” he wrote, suggesting “The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll” by Alvaro Mutis instead.
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