Libraries, Bookstores, and Book Clubs are Stupid: A GIF Response to Joe Queenan

The last GIF response I wrote was so much fun to compose that I’ve decided to make it a regular method of dealing with the frustration that comes from ridiculous internet shenanigans. Today’s WTFery comes from a Joe Queenan interview on NPR that he did to promote his new book, One For The Books, a memoir of his reading life. In the interview, Joe manages to insult pretty much anyone who would ever read or stock his book. He’s got a reputation as a lovable grump, but in this instance he seems to have crossed into regular-old-white-guy-complaining-about-regular-old-white-guy-stuff. Read the full interview here.

“I think I’ve read between 6,000 and 7,000 books. I read about 100 books a year on a slow year, 120, 130 most years, and then some years I’ve just gone completely nuts. A couple of years ago, I read about 250.”

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“I think people who read an enormous number of books are basically dissatisfied with the way things are going on this planet. And I think, in a way, people read for the same reason that kids play video games is, they like that world better.”

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“They [the average reader] read about one book a year and it’s by Tom Clancy or James Patterson. They read books – the average person reads books by people who didn’t write the books that they’re reading. They got someone to write them for them.”

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“…because when you’re young, you’re not going to start reading Jane Austen or Dostoyevsky, you start out reading people like, in my case, Agatha Christie. I read all of the Agatha Christie novels when I was young, and I really enjoyed them. And when you go back to read them later, they don’t hold up as well because she’s not really a great writer.”


“Self-published books are great. Self-published books are so, so addled.And they just go off into the most insane – they always have ghosts. Like the ghost of a deer goes into a composer’s head and becomes a serial killer, and there’s no editor to say, you really want to tone this down. They’re just – I get them all the time. People send them to me and they’re just insanely bad books.”


“Libraries kind of depress me and part of it is because you know that you can’t read all of the books that they have, but a lot of it is because libraries used to have some kind of way of putting the kind of Graham Greene and Charles Dickens and Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte stuff in one category, and then they’d have like Daphne Du Maurier and people, but they wouldn’t have the actual trash mixed in. And now it’s just all one big mall and it’s kind of depressing because most of the books you see in the library shelves are terrible books.”



“…the irony boys who work in bookstores, they just always figure, what’s he doing here? He’s looking for a book about Roger Maris breaking the homerun record or something. And they just don’t like me. They just don’t.”


“[Book clubs] They’re just stupid. They’re just ridiculous. I mean, my problem with book clubs, part of it is one week they discuss something like “Anna Karenina” and “War and Peace” and the next week they discuss the stupidest book imaginable. They just discover whatever book, you know, Anita Shreve just happened to write or something like that. It was like – there’s no theme to your pudding here.”


“The other thing is that when I read books, particularly when you read, like, you read Oscar Wilde or you read Moliere or particularly Shakespeare, I would consider it an invasion of their privacy for me to express any opinion about their work. The market has spoken. There’s nothing that we can add to this conversation.”


So, Joe loves everything having to do with reading except most of the books out there, other people who read them, and places where you can buy/borrow them. And also other people talking about them. Carry on.

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