Judging Books: Part 1 of 2

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Sometimes, when you feel like everything in life is passing its judgment on you, it helps to do a little judging yourself. The following is Bwog correspondent CML’s pilgrimage to the Bookstore in search of superficial literary gratification.

sfsPutting an iPod through the wash and receiving one of those “What are you doing with your life?” e-mails from my grandmother—as I did, one steely gray day in March—puts one in the mood to have absolute control over something. What I needed was books, and what I was going to do was judge them by their covers. Fired by the spirit of my grandmother and my own discontent, I walked the 100 feet from Carman to Lerner and strolled through the door, down the escalator and into the depths of the Columbia University Barnes and Noble.

kjhAs I stepped off the landing, I felt myself drawn towards the flashy colors of the New Arrivals section. One volume in particular caught my eye: Women & Money (by Suze Orman, $24.95). The cover’s defining feature is Suze herself: amidst a bold white background, there she was, wearing a hideous pinstripe jacket, Winfreyesque quantities of makeup, and a lagomorphic smile that would put Brer Rabbit’s dentist to shame. I was repulsed. Searching for one redeeming quality this book might have, I turned it over and instead unearthed this gem: “Why is it that women, who are so competent in all other areas of their lives, cannot find the same competence when it comes to money?” Clearly the answer, Suze, is because they don’t buy your ugly, overpriced, blue-and-vomit-yellow book.

eyeryAfter tossing the wench’s potboiler on the ground, I made my way towards the hallowed mythology section, where I was confronted by a volume proclaiming itself to be The Aeneid of Virgil (by Allen Mandelbaum, $19.95). Its entire cover just exuded Spartan: the subject matter (kind of), the aesthetic (drab and blocky bichromatic), and the coloration (green and white, reminisicent of Michigan State’s athletic teams). The cover’s center depicted, in black and white, a man lying prone with his arms stretched out, perhaps for an NCAA tournament bid, or a vestige of dignity after losing to George Mason last year. I was sitting on the fence about this one, but the prose on the back was stuffy and pretentious, and I realized we’d read the exact same translation in Lit Hum a few weeks ago. So I reshelved it.

sfsfsfLooking for something a little lighter, I walked out of the mythology section and straight into a kiosk that promised “Fun Things to Make and Do.” One title in particular leapt out at me: Spot’s First Easter (by Eric Hill, $7.99). While the back cover’s coloration was boldly purple, its prose was certainly not: “The easter bunny has hidden some eggs for spot to find. Spot’s friend Helen joins in, and the search becomes a counting game.” What a brilliant pedagogical gimmick. Perhaps he should come teach math at Columbia – but, judging from his apparent proficiency in English – I don’t think they’d take him. Writing $8 children’s books probably pays better, though.

Stay tuned for part two!



  1. Dear Bwog  

    CML is terrible. Please stop letting him post.

  2. I agree with #3  

    Look at dude's haircut for proof.

  3. i can't  

    wait for part 2! what book will he purchase on this adventure?

    if cml purchases that latest installment of goosebumps turn to page 37.

    if cml opts for a detective story turn to page 112.

    if cml spies a ninja in the store and runs out of there turn to page 42.

  4. CML

    i liked it. especially the use of borat, that never gets old.

    but no seriously i liked it. stop hating.

  5. Yakobim

    I am dumber for having read this worthless piece of dreck. CML thinks his extensive pretentious vocabulary can make up for his total lack of ability to write a cogent narrative..

  6. West Virgina  

    CML is a masterful wizard as is Kevin Pittsnoggle. THEY MAKE IT RAIN!


    cml rocks

  8. all of you  

    shut up. Don't you realize that CML is destined to someday save the world?
    No, really, it's true.

  9. lighten up, jerks  

    He's a freshman. Give him a break.

    • No.  

      Freshman or not, his terrible writing should be called out. We did the same thing for Fern last year. She wrote boring shlock, people complained mercilessly, and now the Spec stopped publishing it Hell, I'd rather read a well-written, if vapid Fern article than CML's thesaurus diarrhea. This article in particular is the worst of both worlds: he's writing pretentiously about nothing at all. And the Borat photoshops are not only dated, but irrelevant to boot.

  10. a break?  

    he's not a kit kat...he's an insensitive asshole who can't write worth shit.

  11. A friend  

    One more excessively florid sentence out of your mouth and I'm calling Joe Kye. Don't make me do it.

  12. spellcheck plz


  13. Decide!  

    Yo, can you bastards decide who is really "the worst ever". It's a new one every day.
    Here, reply. Who do you think is the WORST WRITER EVER on Bwog? We'll have a vote and it will be decided.

  14. no way  

    fridays are worse

  15. 12 people  

    There are twelve of us in this room and we vote for a tie between:
    Katie Reedy
    Addison Anderson
    Brendan Ballou
    Paul Barndt
    Anna Corke
    Iggy Cortez
    Andrew Flynn
    John Klopfer
    Marc Tracy
    Bari Weiss
    James R. Williams
    Dena Yago

  16. hurrah!  

    this was excellent.

  17. lydia  

    IS AMAZING. she makes me feel bad about myself.

  18. Bill Simmons  

    Yep, these are my readers.

  19. Bitch  

    Who the hell deleted my damn post! Bwog represses the truth!

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