HuffPost Editor Calls You a Liar for Your 10 Novels List

by evanmcmurry

HuffPost tech editor Alexis Kleinman thinks your 10 Novels That Shaped Me lists are bunk:

No, your favorite book is not “The Sound and the Fury.” No, you did not finish “Infinite Jest.” “One Hundred Years Of Solitude”? You read that in 10th grade. I know because I was in that English class with you.

Yeah ok.Tthis is as much categorical error as it is strawman. Here’s Kleinman’s switcheroo:

Sure, we’re calling this “books that changed the way I think” but really it’s just meant to be your favorite books.

No it’s not! Favorite books and books that shaped you/stuck with you certainly can be coincident, but not necessarily. One of the interesting things about the list was that making it forced you to distinguish between books you liked and books that have had an sustained and consequential effect on you. (The Long Goodbye, for instance, would make the former list but got struck from my latter.)

But Kleinman thinks you’re covering up your actual, trashy reading tastes with random selections from Le Canon:

There is nothing wrong with liking popular books. You shouldn’t be ashamed to have read Harry Potter a dozen times. [Ed: nobody is.] Reading is just like anything else: it can be fun and it can be challenging. There shouldn’t be a stigma against fun books. [Ed: there isn’t.] If you’re super picky, remember that fluffy books can be gateways into more serious literature, ya prude.

Per Kleinman, here’s the “real” list you faux-elitists would have written if you’d been telling the truth:

1. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone
2. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
3. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
4. The Phantom Tollbooth
5. The Hunger Games
6. Fifty Shades Of Grey
7. Gossip Girl
8. A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One
9. The Lord Of The Rings
10. Where The Sidewalk Ends

Leaving aside that FB published metrics of the lists (they were watching) that revealed that most people did disproportionately list the Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Where the Sidewalk Ends, this misses the entire point of the exercise, which, once again, was not to name the most recent titles you gorged on but works that have stayed with you. 50 Shades of Grey went through a trillion printings, but nobody’s rereading it — just ask the charities overburdened with unwanted copies. The Hunger Games sold like gangbusters, but will anybody still be reaching for it on the shelf in ten years?

The 10-novels lists was a perfect filter for fads; only the books that survived multiple apartment moves made the cut. That’s how One Hundred Years of Solitude ends up on the list and 50 Shades of Grey doesn’t: because you read One Hundred Years of Solitude in 10th grade, and still do.