What NOT To Read: 20th Century’s Worst Books
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What NOT To Read: 20th Century’s Worst Books

It’s August. Still plenty of time to tackle that summer reading list. The good folks at Intercollegiate Review want to make sure that you don’t waste any time on junk – after all, life is too short for bad wine or bad books. Of course, you are free to debate any of their choices but in most cases, wretched is wretched.

Here are a few of their “bad” picks and the thinking behind their choice.

  • Alfred Kinsey, et al., Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948)
    So mesmerized were Americans by the authority of Science, with a capital S, that it took forty years for anyone to wonder how data is gathered on the sexual responses of children as young as five. A pervert’s attempt to demonstrate that perversion is “statistically” normal.
  • Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, Our Bodies, Our Selves (1976)
    Or, Our Bodies, Our Liberal Selves. A textbook example of the modern impulse to elevate the body and its urges, libidinal and otherwise, above soul and spirit.

  • Lillian Hellman, Scoundrel Time (1976)
    The self-absorbed, unrepentant, and generously fabricated memoir of an American Stalinist.
  • Timothy Leary, The Politics of Ecstasy (1968)
    Leary always said it was a mistake to take things too seriously. This book proves he was right at least once in his life.
  • John Reed, Ten Days That Shook the World (1919)
    And after that, Reed went home and the Bolsheviks struck the set.
  • Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person (1961)
    Rogers disconnected human feelings from nature, disconnected the human and the spiritual from both real religion and the rigor of science, and ruined countless Roman Catholic religious orders in the process. Made B. F. Skinner look good.
  • Jerry Rubin, Do It! (1970)
    The Bible of the lazy and the crazy.
  • Margaret Sanger, Woman and the New Race (1920)
    This founder of Planned Parenthood published Adolf Hitler’s eugenics guru in her magazine in the early 1930s. That Women and the New Race sprang from Sanger is no surprise.
  • Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation (1966)
    Don’t think. Just feel.

Read “The 50 Worst Books of the 20th Century” at Intercollegiate Review.

Elise Hilton

Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.