Last week, Michael Gove (the Education Secretary) made a statement that children should be reading 50 books a year. In response, Iain Hollingshead (a columnist for The Telegraph) gives his advice on the fifty books adults should not have to read. Some of this is pretty funny. Here’s a few of the books he commented on.
The Outsider by Albert Camus
Read by generations of schoolchildren in the original French, this slim volume is solely to blame for the ability of thousands of A-level students to regurgitate rote-learnt essays on existentialism – and their inability to ask the way to the Louvre.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Its set-up is almost as protracted as the dull protagonist’s endless cups of coffee. Then it suddenly descends into graphic sexual violence. Sweden’s most overrated export since Ikea.
Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
A defining moment in Jewish American literature now most famous for a masturbation scene featuring a piece of liver. Disappointingly, this is not as interesting as it sounds.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
More readable than Hawking, but looks a lot less impressive on your bookshelves. Bryson’s notion of “short” can be defined as twice as long as Hawking’s “brief”.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
Even more depressing than the Bible, although it made its author more money.
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray
No, they are not. And Gray is from Texas, which tells you all you need to know.