Blog Hop: Toxicity

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Have you ever read a book or books you would consider ‘toxic’ because of the effect it (they) had on you? If so, which one(s)?

Ooh, what an interesting question!  There are definitely books I’ve found disturbing.  Lolita comes to mind–it was assigned in a class (on American Literature, which I still don’t understand considering Nabokov was Russian) and to this day I’m glad that I got it at the library and didn’t spend money on it.  If you’re (fortunately) unfamiliar with the book, it centers around an adult man’s sexual obsession (and relationship) with an adolescent girl, and it would be less disturbing if Nabokov was a less talented author.  One classmate described it as like watching maggots feed–compelling and horrible both at once.

The Da Vinci Code is toxic in a different way.  It makes me angry–I have an entire rant on the subject of mixing historical fact with theory with utter fiction, sometimes all in one paragraph, without any distinguishing between them.  On the other hand, the phrase “giant albino monk” gets funnier every time I say it.  Not a funny character, but the sheer absurdity of it lightens my mood.

In general I’m disturbed by books that feature sexual violence or child abuse, although I’ve discovered I find those more disturbing in fiction than nonfiction (it’s a stylistic difference).  I can read more in analytical texts (usually taking it on from a psychological analysis) than I can in fiction, though that depends on the level of detail.  And I think we all know that I’m deeply disturbed by fiction involving abusive relationships presented as romantic!

I also have a particular tic against books that address the reader in a hostile or belittling way.  I love books that talk directly to the reader if they’re friendly, but if the narrator is nasty or insulting to the reader?  Yeah, I know not to take it personally, but I still don’t like how it feels.  Part of the appeal of books is that they aren’t judgmental or unfriendly.

Have you read books that feel toxic to you?  What characteristics would make a book toxic?

3 thoughts on “Blog Hop: Toxicity

  1. dianem57

    I’m totally with ensign_beedrill – John Steinbeck and his writings are toxic to me. Also, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, just because it is/was so drawn-out and boring, and I had to read it twice for classes in high school and college.

  2. I try not to read fiction that uses the deaths of children or women to motivate the main characters. Child soldiers also make me feel twitchy. A book that kept me up at night when I innocently read it while pregnant was Baby Wise, a baby “care” manual that calmly presents a combination of child abuse and neglect as the only right way to raise a baby. Ugh!

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