In David Lodge’s academic novel Changing Places, Professor Phillip Swallow invents a parlor game called “Humiliation”, in which the point is to name the most embarrassing lacuna in your knowledge of literature; i.e., to name the work you’ve never read that everyone else would naturally assume you to have read. This presents a nearly insuperable dilemma for one of the other characters, a conniving careerist who is competitive about absolutely everything: the only way to win at the game is to be the most inferior to his colleagues. The results are delicious, and the ramifications carry over into the sequel, Small World.

I’m thinking of the inverse: the work of “literature” you’re most embarrassed to admit you have read – not enjoyed, necessarily, just read. Let’s call it . . . “Mortification”.

Starting off with: Erich Segal’s The Class; my mom had a copy, which I actually read with some interest, having just returned from a six-week fellowship at Harvard (I’m always a sucker for works set in places I’m familiar with, which is less common for those of us from the hinterlands than for those born in New York, Boston, Chicago, L.A., etc.) Mind you, I didn’t think it was good, but I did read it.

I was going to ask if it had to be “literature” but then noticed that the OP referes to Erich Segal.

In my younger days, when I had more patience, I used to read all kinds of crap just to see what it was. The first humiliation that comes to mind is a title a can’t recall, but it was very popular and was espousing the theory that ETs had first populated earth. Anyone recall that? I’m sure you didn’t actually READ it, but perhaps you remember hearing about it.

[i}Chariots of the Gods*, perhaps?

ouch. Damn shift key.

Yep. Thanks, Random. I’d have had that lurking in the back of my mind all afternoon.

In some ways, I wish I had that same remarkable ability to infer, interpolate and extrapolate. That book sold lots of copies and made a bunch of money - not to mention follow on speaking engagements. I need a gimmick!

I’ve read a ton of Danielle Steel novels. I also own all the VC Andrews books.
Beat that.

“It’s okay. I wouldn’t remember me either.”

HAH! Johanna Lindsay (big historical romance novelist) She specializes in titles like “Gentle Rogue” and “Silver Angel”. I have to admit though, when I want to escape from heavier tomes, it’s a nice little escape that requires no thought.

P.S. the worst one (romance) I ever read I can’t remember the title, but I do know thare was a reference to a woman’s anatomy described as “moist pulsating pocket of desire”.

Johanna Lindsey, ha!

I used to read Kathleen E. Woodwiss. I still remember the line that ended one of the sex scenes from The Flame and the Flower:

“And they were left as embers on the hearth of love.”

I got you ALL beat. I read crappy books based on fantasy role-playing games. Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, the works.
– Sylence

If a bird doesn’t sing, I’ll wait until it sings.

  • Tokugawa Ieyasu


Her whole anatomy, or a specific part? Details, please.

I almost said something about the preceding being said “tongue in cheek”, but then I thought better of it.

When I was growing up my parents paid little or no attention to what I read, on the assumption, I think, that any reading was good reading. They also liked to take us to estate sales, where it was common to have paperbacks for sale very cheap (a dollar for an orange crate-full). I remember coming home with one that I soon discovered was a treasure trove of '60s/'70s schlock: “The Happy Hooker,” “Myra Breckenridge,” “Mandingo,” lots of Harold Robbins. You get the picture. Very…educational for a 13 or 14 year old.

The Executioner series in the '70s.

Gratuitous sex and violence; well, mostly violence!

Very little in the way of brain power needed, which was a good thing as I was 16, my brain was residing lower in my anatomy, and I was rabidly chasing members of the opposite gender! :slight_smile:


I could never eat a mouse raw…their little feet are probably real cold going down. :rolleyes:

Oh wow, another David Lodge fan! Thought I was the only one here…


I’m OK, You’re OK.

The first thirty-odd books of the Babysitters’ Club series.

Jim Morrison’s two books of poetry, The Lords and The New Creatures.

Rude Food, a book of photos of food in, um, erotically suggestive arrangements.

There’s some excuse for the first one, since I was staying at an elderly relative’s house and it was all they had to read, but I’m sorry to say the others were entirely voluntary…

Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision. (Hey, I was only in 8th grade.) And all the other occult/esp/pseudoscience crap I read before I ran across the writings of people like Martin Gardner, James Randi, and Unca Cece.

But where were the Spiders?


Fretful P:

I’m a huge fan of Changing Places and Small World; I liked, but didn’t love, Nice Work and The British Museum is Falling Down, and never got round to the rest. Nice Work was a little too successful in its aims, I think, for my taste – other than Austen I have a hard time making my way through most novels of that period. I was a student in an English lit Ph.D. program when Small World came out, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed it. My original paperback copy ended up being nearly as well-travelled as Morris Zapp; I loaned it to a friend, who took it with him to bum around Europe, ended up loaning it to several other acquaintances he picked up along the way, each of whom took it off on their own side trips before returning it, and finally into the then-Soviet Union, where so far as I know it remains to this day.

I also enjoyed critical writing, though I’m rather glad not to have a steady diet of such fare anymore.


. . . should of course have been:

“I also enjoyed Lodge’s critical writing . . .”.

I read The Obscenity Report and highlighted the good parts. But only to get that point on the purity test.

I read the entire Mission Earth series by Elron Hubbard once. What utter crap, but I can’t put down anything once I’ve started reading it.

I read the first 15 or so Xanth novels…
Clerks - Just because they serve you doesn’t mean they like you.

I have read (and own) the 1st 24 books in the Gor series.

I am a redhead, you see, and I do not tempt. I insist. -Cristi

Hey Chris, I’ll see your Danielle Steel and VC Andrews, and raise you Jackie Collins.

I feel so dirty.

“I’ll tell you a secret, baby - maybe you can’t do better - gotta settle for second best” - the Judybats

“The Man From Orgy” Don’t remember the author but the books were awful. Pure sex on every page. I read them several times over just to be sure. Nothing but sex. Oh, the “Orgy” in the titles was an acronym for the “Organization for the Rational Guidance of Youth.”