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9 Things To Do With Thick Novels You Hate


So here I sit, with nearly two weeks behind me since finishing A Dance To The Music Of Time—a novel that took up about half of my reading time in 2012.

I now have all four appropriately named “movements” (volumes) of the novel, each containing 3 books, totaling 12 novels and more than 3,500 pages…and I don’t know what to do with them.

More than likely, I’ll end up putting these books on my bookshelf—they’re big enough to have their own wing. They will be a memorial to the reading hell I suffered in 2012.

But, should I change my mind and decide to exorcise the demons of A Dance, I thought I’d come up with a few other ideas for the books.

Feel free to apply some of these to any large novel you hate, like Infinite Jest, Gone With The Wind, Moby Dick etc.

How else could these four Anthony Powell books be used?

Cornerstones for a mobile home. You know those trailers in the midwest and south that always get ripped in the wind and torn in half whenever a tornado comes through? Tie ‘em down with these four Anthony Powell masterpieces and ride out the storm.

Literary booster seat for my son. I love this idea. While supporting my son and elevating him to the height of the table, A Dance To The Music Of Time will also feel the wrath of my 2-year-old’s less-than-stellar table manners, as an onslaught of 2% milk, peanut butter, goldfish, and apple sauce rain down on the books like locusts.

Natural narcotic. This one may be obvious. If you’re one of those anti-drug people, but you’d really like a hit of Ambien or some other sleeping pill, then A Dance To The Music Of Time might be your natural remedy. It’s a three step process. 1) Place pillow behind head for support. 2) Open the book to any page. 3) Begin reading anywhere on said page. Sleep guaranteed to follow or your money back.

An aristocratic car jack. Think of an elite neighborhood with academic types and haughty taughties. Instead of jacking their car up with cinder blocks, like in the redneck section of town, these rich folks could use the Anthony Powell novels. What a great way to combine a social statement with a practical use!

Booby trap. Gun control is all the talk these days. But who needs guns when you have 8-pound books to defend yourself with? Rig a booby trap over your front door with these four books and, if an intruder enters your lovely abode, he’ll get pounded on the noggin by these behemoths. It’s like the Scooby Doo crew when they catch the bad guy!

Fire starters for a charcoal grill. Infuse your steaks and burgers with the flavor of overrated, elitist literature.

Social repellant. Look, I’m no dating expert. But my guess is A Dance To The Music Of Time isn’t a lady magnet. Doubtful that any woman, or man for that matter, who sees you reading these books in Starbucks will think, Ooh, how sexy, that’s Anthony Powell’s tour de force. I must meet the man who reads this.

Gift bag filler. Christmas has passed, but maybe you can use this tip for next year or for birthdays. Rip out each page, one by one, and use these as filler in your gift bags. How delightful!

Hate mail. This one will take time and money, but hate can be a powerful thing. Now, who is your least favorite person in the world? Again, rip each page out of all four books and mail a page a day to the person you hate the most. Ten years from now, you’ll still be mailing pieces of the book. On second thought, at 37 cents a stamp, this is way too expensive. Forget about it.

What else could you do with your overweight, overrated books?

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31 Comments Post a comment
  1. computer stand

    January 11, 2013
  2. theelectriccane #

    Reblogged this on Theelectriccane's Blog and commented:
    I like most books, but a few just put me to sleep…

    January 11, 2013
  3. Was it really all that bad? A high school literature teacher once recommended it to me and its still on my list of To Reads.

    January 11, 2013
    • It was really all that bad. A couple of people on here might tell you otherwise (Teresa, Mike), so I think it would be fine to get the first book and try it out if you are curious. The main thing is that it’s just incredibly dry and with not much of a plot to speak of, and that’s painful to read over the course of 3,000 pages.

      January 11, 2013
      • Well that certainly makes me hesitant. I guess I’ll keep this for a rainy day at the best…

        January 11, 2013
  4. My idea isn’t funny but comes from something I saw on Pinterest. Break off the spines, glue them to a box or basket, and use it as storage with a pretty bookish front. Or you could hollow out the middles and use them to hide secret keys.

    January 11, 2013
    • Ha! Great ideas.

      January 11, 2013
      • Dang! That was my idea.

        January 11, 2013
  5. Surely you could make them into fancy bookmarks (glitter optional) and sell them on Etsy? At over 3000 pages it could fund the purchase of several better books… :)

    January 11, 2013
  6. I’m going to go with wallpaper. Nothing says “literary nerd” better than plastering your walls with books (even boring ones). Do it to the walls of your guest bedroom and it will double as a deterrent for unwanted house guests!

    January 11, 2013
    • Ooh, great idea!

      January 11, 2013
  7. I might like them. I LOVED Gone With the Wind and Moby Dick! Send them my way.

    January 11, 2013
  8. Mafia anti-floaties! Got someone who needs to sleep with the fishes? These things are cheaper than concrete and there’s no time lost waiting for them to set. Tie ‘em on, chunk him in. Bam! Done! Even better, when they’ve served their original purpose, they’re bio-degradable, too.

    January 11, 2013
    • It’s a win-win. Get rid of bad literature and bad guys at the same time.

      January 11, 2013
      • And environmentally friendly, too! What’s not to like? ;-)

        January 11, 2013
  9. Why on earth did you waste so much of your life on this? You might just have a stroke this afternoon just like the poet, Jake Adam York, who died in December at age 40. If you find your eyeballs rolling back in your head after starting a book, cut your losses. Move on to the next book in your list. I’ll give you as many “get out of book jail free” cards as you want.

    I suggest you put the offending novel on the compost pile.

    January 11, 2013
    • He’s reading through a 100 Greatest Novels list. If he were going to just give the books up, there wouldn’t be a site.

      January 11, 2013
      • Yes, I understand his intent. But no one says he has to stick with a book he’s given a decent chance. He can give his review with the caveat that he hated it so much he couldn’t continue past page __. He also has another option. Ditch the offending book “for now” and pick up the next one in the list. As a parent of a 9-yr-old, I think that spending so much of your life reading an entire book you hate (especially one so long) is a tantamount to a performing a fool’s errand for the sake of saying you did it.

        January 11, 2013
    • If it’s on the list, I’m going to finish it. That’s just my nature. If I stopped every book I didn’t like, then there would probably be 5 to 6 books from this list, so far, that I would have never finished. And that would defeat the purpose of the blog…plus, it’s hard to give a legitimate opinion on something if you haven’t read the whole thing, I think.

      January 11, 2013
      • Fair enough.You have more patience and determination than I do. I am definitely enjoying your blog. So thanks for being willing to slog through the parts where others may fear to tread. :o)

        January 11, 2013
  10. Reblogged this on On My Stereo.

    January 11, 2013
  11. Here’s an essay from the New York Review of Books you may find interesting, written by Tim Parks:

    January 11, 2013
  12. “Social Repellent”–Not only is A Dance To the Music of Time a lady repellent, it’s also a gay guy repellent.

    I think, also, it could be used to develop calve, leg, and ankle muscles. Simply put it on the ground, put toes on top, and lift calves up and down. If you ever lose a step ladder, it has yet another purpose.

    January 11, 2013
    • There you go. Didn’t even think about the exercise angle. There must be a world of opportunities there.

      January 11, 2013
  13. Perhaps you have got yourself 3,500 pages of literary toilet paper, although – I admit – that’s a bit impudent.

    January 11, 2013
  14. melissamwolff #

    This is great. I really like the creative ideas to do with the thick books you don’t like! Amazing.

    January 12, 2013
  15. vrbridge #

    The could be used to potty train puppies! I love this post. I’ve had a few books I’ve wanted to use to soak up some unmentionable liquids.

    January 17, 2013
  16. So much to do with “In search for times lost”.. but no, I love those books!!

    January 22, 2013
  17. Ok, you’ve written a lot about Dance to the Music of Time, and received lots of comments, and I’ve read through a little of all that material . . . so probably I’ll be repeating some of what’ been said. But I’ve got 3 or so comments. So here goes:

    1. Beginning Dance (which I did with Book 4 “At Lady Molly’s”, so what do I know) I had the same exact reaction you have: This is excruciating. But then, somewhere before Book 5, my whole experience changed, and of all things, I’ve become a huge fan of the Dance experience.
    2. I would never have stuck with it if I had continued to feel as you do. I don’t feel any moral necessity to read a book from cover to cover, if it’s not the one for me.
    3. I get that you are doing this as an exercise in reading everything on the 100 Books list, but, hey, Dance is 12 books long! Surely if you completed just one of the movements (which itself is 4 of the 12, and constitutes one of those big thick door-stop like paperbacks,) you could pat yourself on the back, and just move on down the list!!
    4. That said, I’m still enjoying my own journey through Dance (am a slooooow reader and don’t really expect to actually finish all of them in my lifetime). I like it for its extreme quirkiness and am attached to the characters (as you noted, that began to happen to you in At Lady Mollys).
    I really like the Tolland family – all those 10 kids; and that stepmother of theirs, and the lives they lead. In between checking in with them, I do read other things. And blogs

    November 5, 2013

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