War And Peace - Leo Tolstoy

This has 559 characters. In my edition, that averages out to about one new character every two pages. I feel like this has a lot of characters for the same reason guys who don't need to haul heavy loads buy really big pickup trucks.



The Alchemist - Ben Jonson

I really want to like a play that starts with 'I fart at thee', but most of the humour doesn't really hit home.

The sort of people that praise this as a masterpiece and a work of genius also become visibly upset when the same type of humour is sold to a modern audience. I had English teachers who would endlessly whine and complain about Adam Sandler and the like, but is this monument of world literature really any different? The world of English majors and literary critics has a lot more to do with posturing than with actual books.



The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

I think the English translator must have been better than the original writer, because most English speakers I have met who have read this walked away with a positive impression. In Portuguese, Coelho often comes across as barely literate.

This is two books which alternate from chapter to chapter. The first book is about a boy looking for treasure. The second is a self-help book for narcissists who worry that they are not self-serving and manipulative enough. In the end (spoilers), the boy finds where the treasure should be buried and starts digging. Pretty soon he gives up and decides the actual treasure was the experiences he had along the way. Then he digs a bit more and finds some gold and gems and decides that the real treasure was actually getting really rich.



Hopscotch - Julio Cortázar

A dark, seedy, erotic Choose Your Own Adventure.


To strangle the little faubourienne you have turned into your whore, turn to page 235!

To smoke clove cigarettes and discuss people who haven't read Mauriac, turn to page 431!



Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! - Richard Feynman

I like Math, and because a lot of Math people like physics, someone I knew recommended me a few hard and soft physics books to get me interested.

I was on board until I got to this one. Most of it is obnoxiously arrogant. The rest is psychotic. The chapter "You Just Ask Them" - where he rants about how women are "worthless bitches" and deserve to be abused and should have sex with him whether they want to or not - reads like the unapologetic confession of a serial killer after the police start discovering bodies.

And, it turns out, Feynman was so aggressively sexually abusive towards his students - even by the standards of the 60s and 70s - that he inspired numerous protests.

I want to make something abundantly clear: If you like this or think that it's clever, you are a person with serious mental health issues, and you are possibly dangerous to yourself and others. You need to seek professional help from a psychologist.



The Sopranos - All Seasons

I imagine that at most meetings that happen at HBO, someone ends up writing "Darker and Edgier" on a whiteboard, and then underlines in three or four times for emphasis, and then says, "Did you even read my email? I asked for darker and edgier."

This is the most overrated show of all time. The first season was okay, except the by-the-numbers mafia plot and that characters were mostly stolen from things Scorsese and others had done years or decades earlier.

After season one's story arc, about a quarter of the episodes were bottom-tier soap opera, and three quarters were gimmicky one-offs ("Imagine a mafioso at an X! What a incongruous situation for a mobster to be in lol!!"). Imagine Mr. Ed but instead of a horse it's a psychologist and instead of Wilbur it's a bunch of characters stolen from much better stories. Except that, once in a while, Mr. Ed's jokes would actually land.

Even worse than the show was the theme song, which is the bottom of the barrel of white guys ripping of old blues. It's the soundtrack to the life of a middle manager who wears jean jackets and flannel on casual Fridays, and has a blonde ponytail, and snorts coke, and asks you to recommend him an ashram as a thinly-veiled pretence for recommending you his favourite ashram. He says he likes the song because it reminds him of how he likes to live his life: intensely.



Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 2 - The Battle for Doldrey (2012)

I didn't think the first one was that good, but I thought it had potential. This one was boring, stupid, and was weighted down with subplots that did nothing to drive the story forward. I wouldn't recommend any of these movies, but if you're really set on watching them, at least do yourself a favour and miss this one.



After Life (2019)

The ads were full of comedians and jokes, so I assumed it was a sitcom. It turns out it's a depressing drama about a man who is suicidal and takes heroin, which feels like a dirty trick because I would never, in a million years, watch something like that knowing what it was beforehand. It kind of seems like the sort of pointless, easy drama that's written to win an Oscar, but it can't even do that because it's a TV show.



Berserk: The Golden Age Arc 3 - The Advent (2013)

After hours of waiting for this series to get better, part three offers a really good plot twist, and great artwork. Then, out of nowhere, a tentacle rape scene. I wish I'd never wasted my time.