HOW TO CROWD-SOURCE A LIST OF THE GREATEST WORKS OF LITERATURE OF ALL TIME.

Boring boring boring boring boring.

1. Find a forum where readers discuss the books they have read.

2. Ask the question, “What is the most boring book you have ever read?”

3. Compile a list from the responses.

4. Remove anything from the list more recent than a century old.

5. What remains is as close as you will ever come to an objectively correct list of the greatest works of literature available in the English language (including translations of famous works in other languages).

For examples, see these lists:

The Dullest Books Of All Time
“These are books which deal with a great idea or premise but are extremely boring or badly written.” It includes Don Quixote, The Canterbury Tales, Malory’s Morte D’Arthur, Shakespeare’s Henry V, and Jane Eyre.

What is the dullest book you’ve ever read?
Includes Great Expectations, The Way of All Flesh, The Scarlet Letter, and Anna Karenina.

MOST BORING BOOK EVER!
“These books are really boring!” Includes the King James Bible (a bit unfair counting it all as one book, since that means you have to get through the census records, the genealogies, and the laws about which grasshoppers you can eat), Wuthering Heights, Moby-Dick, Gulliver’s Travels, A Tale of Two Cities, and the Odyssey.

Most Boring Books of All Time
Includes Pride and Prejudice, Moby-Dick (a perennial winner on these lists), War and Peace, the Bible (no version specified), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Les Misérables, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Robinson Crusoe.

Comments

  1. “When I works, I works hard; when I sits, I sits loose; and when I thinks, I falls asleep.”

  2. Captain DaFt says:

    I think people just like to show off their literary muscle when asked “What’s the most boring book”, and name drop the most famous/popular book they’ve ever read.

    A true list of the most boring books would have to include most textbooks ever written, since the main goal of academia is to make learning so unpleasant, that no one will ever attempt it on their own.

  3. markm says:

    You neglected Russian literature here:

    War and Peace
    Everything by Dostoevski

    OTOH, Nikolai Gogol’s work is never dull.

  4. John says:

    I loved Moby Dick, but I can’t remember, was he the man of the whale?

  5. Bah. I know this is heresy here on this website, but I maintain my opinion that Mark Twain was the only writer of the 19th century really worth reading. Jules Verne had a lot of cool concepts and ideas, but stylistically he’s still a crushing bore in terms of actual writing. Same for H.G. Welles. As for the real “Classics” from Dickens and the Brontes to the rest of their ilk, I’ve never been able to understand what people see in them.

    I think writers got better once they had to compete with movies and television for audience, and thus had to finally get the the flipping point rather than spend their first hundred or so pages in backstory, as seen most infamously with Moby Dick.

    Unfortunately, once television and movies cut enough into their audience that they could no longer afford large editorial staffs, the writing quality went much further downward. A lot of contemporary fiction isn’t so much bad, as in dire need of editing with a chainsaw.

    • Felix says:

      While I am in agreement about Dickens, what little I have read of Twain and Verne seems really dated. I don’t mean the setting, but the way in which they see the world. On the other hand, Welles, Chesterton and Kipling have aged really well.

  6. rafinlay says:

    Basically, anything that was required reading in English/American Literature class. (Great Expectations and The Mayor of Casterbridge come to mind.) No matter how good they might objectively (if such a thing exists) be, they are forever tainted by prior association.

  7. C. Simon says:

    None of the books on these list received more than 50 votes for “most boring,” so these findings are hardly supported by what I call “crowds.” What I think it does prove is that you can always find one person who hates absolutely anything.

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