Read This, Not That, Since Modern Readers Have To Choose One

For some reason, Friar delved into a list of books provided by GQ entitled 21 Books You Don’t Have to Read:

We’ve been told all our lives that we can only call ourselves well-read once we’ve read the Great Books. We tried. We got halfway through Infinite Jest and halfway through the SparkNotes on Finnegans Wake. But a few pages into Bleak House, we realized that not all the Great Books have aged well. Some are racist and some are sexist, but most are just really, really boring. So we—and a group of un-boring writers—give you permission to strike these books from the canon. Here’s what you should read instead.

Sounds like the ill-read leading the unread to me, but it does present itself as a book quiz! Here’s the list. I’ve bolded the titles I’ve read:

Old Canon: New, Improved GQ Canon:
Lonesome Dove
by Larry McMurty
The Mountain Lion
by Jean Stafford
The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
Olivia: A Novel
by Dorothy Strachey
Goodbye to All That
by Robert Graves
Dispatches
by Michael Herr
The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway
The Summer Book
by Tove Jannson
The Alchemist
by Paulo Coelho
Near to the Wild Heart
by Clarice Lispector
A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway
The Great Fire
by Shirley Hazzard
Blood Meridian
by Cormac McCarthy
The Sisters Brothers
by Patrick deWitt
John Adams
by David McCullough
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
by Clarice Millard
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
by Frederick Douglass
 
The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll
by Alvaro Mutis
The Ambassadors
by Henry James
The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich
by William L. Shirer
The Bible
The Notebook
by Agota Kristof
Franny and Zooey
by J.D. Salinger
Death Comes for the Archbishop
by Willa Cather
The Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkein
The Earthsea series
by Ursula Le Guin
Dracula
by Bram Stoker
Angels
by Denis Johnson
Catch-22
by Joseph Heller
The American Granddaughter
by Inaam Kachachi
Life
by Keith Richards
The Worst Journey in the World
by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
Freedom
by Jonathan Franzen
Too Loud a Solitude
by Bohumil Hrabal
Gravity’s Rainbow
by Thomas Pynchon
Inherent Vice
by Thomas Pynchon
Slaughterhouse Five
by Kurt Vonnegut
Veronica
by Mary Gaitskill
Gulliver’s Travels
by Jonathan Swift
The Life and Opinions of Tristan Shandy, Gentleman
by Laurence Stern

Of the entire list, the books that I have not yet read but might someday includes Dracula and maybe some Pynchon (although I think the title I have on my to-read shelves is The Crying of Lot 49). The rest of it? Meh, the kind of thing you already find on college syllabi these days.

But to call them canon–even some of those on the left side of the list–presupposes that anyone will give a flying fish about them in a couple of decades. Which I doubt.