21 famous books you don't have to read (and recommendations for better books)

Advice from the editors of GQ: Don't read the "totally silly" The Catcher in the Rye. Instead, read Olivia, "the story of a British teenage girl who is sent to a boarding school in France." Don't read Catch-22, because it "fails to capture the absurdities and impossible conflicts of war." Instead, read The American Granddaughter, a "thoughtful, nuanced, and often uproariously funny meditation on war in the 21st century." The editors also warn would be readers to steer clear of the Lord of the Rings series:

I liked The Hobbit. A lot. But while Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books are influential as exercises in world building, as novels they are barely readable. It never seemed to me that Tolkien cared about his story as much as he cared about rendering, in minute detail, the world he built. Why not instead read Ursula K. Le Guin's magnificent (and as beautifully rendered) stories and novels surrounding Earthsea? Le Guin captures the world of Earthsea through a powerful, dark, gorgeous kind of storytelling that is irresistible. Perhaps Le Guin's work — along with an entire universe of fantasy fiction — wouldn't have been possible without Tolkien's influence behind it, but in its time, Le Guin's books are more influential and make for better reading. — Manuel Gonzales, 'The Regional Office Is Under Attack!'