Books that Won’t Make You Cry

Posted: March 19, 2011 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives
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Everyone, even English majors like myself, dreads getting assigned reading.  Mostly because assigned reading involves books that are written in some kind of old timey English which requires at least two minutes of analysis per sentence in order to figure out what the fuck the author is actually talking about.

As if that’s not enough, those books were written in a time when things like farming, sitting around idly by a fire, and living past forty-five were considered entertaining.  So naturally, going through fifty pages of that a night is pretty close to torture.  This leads me to believe that most English teachers are sadists, but then again, teachers in general are pretty sadistic.  So maybe I should say that English teachers have their own particular brand of sadism.  That being said, I thought I’d make a list of books you might encounter in a class that will not incite suicidal thoughts:

1. The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins (

This book was originally published in a literary magazine called All the Year Round.  You probably haven’t heard of the magazine, as it is older than your great-grandmother, but you might have heard of its creator – Charles Dickens.  Dickens and Wilkie were apparently good buds, but they did have some differences.  For example, I actually liked reading The Moonstone, but Dickens’ work made me wish for death, which, now that I think about it, might have been his goal.  Anyway, Collins’ book is still pretty old timey, but it’s also hilarious, and a really good mystery novel.  His main detective, Sergeant Cuff, was picking up on obscure clues years before Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.  So don’t be afraid to read it.

2. Feed, by M.T. Anderson (

Little known fact – M.T. Anderson graduated from Syracuse, so if you have no other reasons, you might as well read his book for solidarity.  That’s not the best reason to read it, though.  Feed is a science-fiction book that is based in the future, though, remarkably, it is an incredible commentary on present-day society.  Just so I can get you interested, the book starts with the main character and his friends going to the moon, just for the hell of it.

3. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad (

I know, I know.  You’ve heard of this book.  You’ve probably already read it, and hated it. I had to read this book in high school, and I was about ready to chuck it out the window by page ten.  When I saw it was part of a course I was enrolled in last year, I damn near dropped the course.  I remembered this book as some 500-page volume from Hell.  Good thing I stuck that course out, because it turned out that the book barely broke 100 pages, and on rereading it, I realized that I loved it.  Heart of Darkness is a good read if you’re mature enough to handle it.  I think it gets a bad rep because kids are being forced to read it way too early in life.  If that doesn’t convince you to give it a chance, remember that Apocalypse Now ( was influenced directly by Conrad, and you’ll understand that movie a whole lot better if you’ve read the book.

-Rebecca Leviton

  1. […] “Catcher in the Rye” is about 200 pages long and costs $8 on On the back of the book are reviews of how it’s a “literary classic” and a “widely acclaimed novel.” Basically, it goes on and on saying how awesome the book is. Well, clearly it’s amazing enough to make literary snobs buy the book and force school kids to read it. […]

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