Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Festivus!

After spending eight hours performing feats of strength involving carrying heavy kitchen things,  I've decided it's time for the traditional Airing of Grievances. (What? It's part of Festivus.) Keep in mind that these are just my grievances from today. Some of them will become longer posts later, but here they are, in short form, and in no particular order:
  • It is December 23. You will have to wait in a line for a little bit. We are going to be sold out of a lot of stuff. Learn to deal with it or next year, shop early.
  • Seven separate transactions on the same credit card, going to the same place...can you really not do the math and figure out how much 6- $1 cookie cutters would be?
  • Hey lazy co-worker- perhaps if I'm dealing with the line of 20 angry shoppers, you could walk your happy ass around the counter and get whatever it is you needed on your own.  Maybe while you're back there you could help out with the giant line.
  • Oh, and smelly co-worker- Shower. Wash your clothes. And if you “accidentally” touch the side of my breast one more time I will “accidentally” kick you in the balls.
  • Finally, both previously mentioned co-workers- maybe don't use that misogynistic, patronizing tone of voice with me while I'm holding a 10-inch chef's knife.
  • We do not owe you gift wrap.
  • I'm tired of teaching grown-ups how to line up properly.
  • If you refuse to pay full price for anything, you cannot demand that we give you extra stuff for free.
  • You are not special, and the rules apply to you. (I don't like rule-breakers, especially when it applies to lines and parking. It's one of the reasons my friend calls me Liz Lemon*)
  • Your time constraints are not my fault, nor are they my responsibility. They are also not an excuse to bully other customers.
  • We do not OWE you gift wrap.
  • If your purse costs more than my car you cannot complain about how “expensive” the items you wish to purchase are.
  • If it doesn't have a sale sticker on it, is not located in the sale section or under a sale sign, chances are it's not on sale. Quit asking me about EVERY SINGLE ITEM.
  • Nothing in the cooking store is designed to be used as a massager. Stop rubbing the pastry tools on yourself.
  • That coffee machine costs $3000. You are an adult. Stop pushing all the buttons just to see what it will do unless you have $3000 to buy the coffee machine you just broke.
  • We DO NOT OWE YOU gift wrap.
  • Please and thank you are still very important words. Use them often.
  • Get off your phone if you want my help.
  • Retail clerks are human people with feelings and thoughts. We are also dealing with Christmas stress. And yelling at me won't change anything about the situation except that you made someone else's day that much worse. I hope it made you feel better about things. (That's a lie. I hope you step on a Lego.)
  • Snapping or whistling is how you get an animal's attention, not a human's.
  • Don't throw your cash/credit card at me. I might be tempted to throw it back.
  • It shouldn't surprise you that you have to pay, have your form of payment ready when you get to the front of the line.
  • If we give you an extra discount or something for free, the correct response is “Thank You” not “What else can you give me?”
That's all for today.  One more day and then the traditional post-work holiday drinking can commence. SERENITY NOW!

*I couldn't find a decent clip of the opening :45 seconds of the 30 Rock pilot.  If you aren't already watching this show a) What is wrong with you? and b) Go watch the pilot right now.  I am Liz Lemon.  I will buy all the hot dogs.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Lady-Heroes

So in my last post I gave everyone a very long and overly detailed description of how I planned to structure book reviews on my blog. In this post I will throw all of that structure out the window and review two books from a completely emotional place.

To give a little background to the emotional foundation this post is built upon I'm going to reveal some more of my back story, nothing too traumatic, so everyone can keep reading safely. Before I was BookWench I had another lovely and aggressive nickname – Feminazi. Somehow the boys in my middle school in Texas were given access to Rush Limbaugh, and my tendency to argue that women were just as good as men, and to challenge conservative gender roles led to years of me being stuck with a label that makes me both angry and somehow proud. The past few months have led to that particular facet of my personality coming back to the forefront as I watched the conversations about women happening on the national political level, as well as on a personal and familial one. Somehow women were taking a giant step backwards and I was not about to let the young women I know/ am related to become complacent and allow that to happen. The rage was reaching epic levels, but then a well-timed reading of a book brought me some hope, as it often does.

I immediately took to Facebook and posted the following If you have a teenage girl, know a teenage girl, or still have an inner teenage girl go out and buy them Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and pair it with Tina Fey's Bossypants. I feel like those two books could guarantee a future generation of smart, funny, classy women who could rule the world. Seriously.” And while it may seem odd to pin my hopes for the future of my gender on two comedy writers, they provide accessible and humorous guides to becoming an awesome, smart, powerful woman. They are women who have fought their way to the top of a male-dominated industry without sacrificing their femininity, grace and intelligence. I strive everyday to be more like these ladies, and I hope that I can convince some of my younger cousins to set aside the Twilight books and pick up a book with a more honest view of teenage girl-hood, and give them some real role models to follow. And after Tina and Mindy have amused them and taught them some important life lessons we can point them to the record-breaking number of women holding positions of power in government and give them a wide range of lady-heroes. Even in my adult life, reading both of these books gave me things to aspire towards as a woman, as a writer, and as a person. These women are the kind of people I want as friends, as well as the kind of person I want to be, and somehow they manage to make it all seem entirely do-able.

So- I encourage everyone to go out and read these books. Right now. Give them to everyone you know for upcoming gift-giving holidays. Give them to teenage girls to help create a generation of smart, funny, powerful women. Give them to teenage boys to teach them that they should want to befriend/date/marry smart, funny, powerful women, because in my opinion those men are few and far between. I value the men I know who have already discovered this, they are precious and rare and I wish more of them were straight/single/wanted to date me. Give them to adults to help them find two more names to add to their fantasy night at the bar guest list. (That's something everyone has, right?) They're quick reads, but with depth and intelligence that seems to be lacking in a lot of today's bestsellers. I cannot recommend them enough.

In closing- some quotes from my new imaginary best friends:
...write your own part. It is the only way I've gotten anywhere. It is much harder work, but sometimes you have to take destiny into your own hands. It forces you to think about what your strengths really are, and once you find them, you can showcase them, and no one can stop you.” - Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

“So, my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.” - Tina Fey, Bossypants

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You!

After slogging through hundreds of book blogs in the last few weeks in an attempt to get some of them to review my show, I've decided to make another attempt at reviewing books on this blog.  Clearly, it's not because the Internet needs more book reviews, or because people are clamoring for my opinion, but because I feel like my voice, and the books I would want to focus on, aren't being represented.  It would also justify the large stacks of books I lug home from the library twice a week.

I will still be writing my typical Wench-y musings on life in BookWorld/ retail, and my own literary annoyances, but hopefully these reviews will show that my anger stems from a place of true love for the written word, and respect for the people who create it.

I won't be doing the typical star rating system, or thumbs up, or a scale of kisses/hearts/stilettos that I saw on far too many review sites.  Instead I'll write a brief synopsis and then include the following sections to offer my opinion:

Recommend- Pretty much a yes/no breakdown, and specifications as to who would enjoy it.  I'll try to tie it in to other books/genres since I'm well aware that not everyone will agree with my particular tastes.

Genre - I'll include a real genre to give some idea as to where you'd find it in a bookstore, but also narrow it down by my own imaginary sub-genres.  (Isn't that how all of you inventory your personal libraries? No.  Just me then…)

Post-It Flags-  This is as close to a numerical rating as I can get.  Generally when I read a book I have Post-It flags at the ready to mark interesting passages, things that make me laugh or cry, quotes I like, or things I want to research further.   Really anything that resonates with me to the point that I know I'll want to revisit it or try to understand it better.  It's also how I decide if a book needs to be part of the permanent collection - if I've borrowed a book and it gets more than 10-15 flags it's earned a spot on my shelf.  If it's something I own and it doesn't pass the flag test, chances are it gets traded in for something else.

Favorite Quotes-  I collect quotes the way other people collect shot glasses/figurines/baseball cards/cats.  I have books that I've painstakingly handwritten and embellished full of quotes that I love, or that make the world seem vaguely rational and understandable.  I've found that even in books I don't particularly like I'll stumble upon a sentence that makes me think, or rises above the rest of the book and makes the reading of it not a complete waste of time.   So I'll pull one or two quotes from the book I'm reviewing to intrigue you, or possibly make you question my sanity.

I won't review everything I read, because sometimes I read mindless, entertaining drivel.  I'm well aware it has no literary merit, so there's no reason to share my book-shame with others.  I'll try to keep it classy here - which is not to say I'll only be reviewing classics by old white men, just that I won't try to do an in-depth review of a Laurell K. Hamilton book.

Anyway - it's something to be on the lookout for.  Let me know if you have any book suggestions or things you'd like to see me discuss in a review.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shameless Promotion

Hello Lovely Readers!!

This mini-post is to let you all know that the website for the series I wrote is now up and running.  If you have a few minutes please go check it out.  We've added some great behind the scenes footage and bonus content, plus all three episodes.

 Click here:

And if you have a blog, or anyone you know has a blog please feel free to share the link.  Our goal is to make a show for people who love books, and to honor the written word in a visual medium.  That and to make people act out my weird fantasies of what would happen if Jay Gatsby and Scarlett O'Hara met.

Go.  Watch. Share (please!!!).

Just remember - if this show is a success I can leave retail.  And that's really the best outcome for everyone involved.

Thanks again.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Part Memorial/ Part Love Note

This post leaves BookWorld, because sometimes the larger world intrudes...
I know it's been several weeks since the Aurora, CO shootings, but sometimes it takes me a while to come up with the right words for certain situations. I'm not vain enough to think that many people care about my opinion on what happened, but as we learned from Rent “The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation.” And in order to attempt to wrap my brain around such a random violent act I've undertaken this act of creation.* 
I've gone to the movies twice since it happened, once to see The Dark Knight Rises. I will admit that both times I was hyper-aware of people getting up and leaving the theater, or even just shifting in their seats. Much like when I flew back to New York in October 2001, there was a completely different feeling in the room. An act that we all viewed as normal, or sometimes exciting, had been transformed into something completely alien and vaguely threatening. As we all tried to adjust to the new world created from acts of horrible violence the whole experience took on a more serious and somber tone. It was not something I had ever expected to feel in a movie theatre, the place we all go to escape reality, now suddenly oppressively weighted with it.
And much like flying now comes with a new set of rules, so does going to the movies. Most of the major chains are banning any sort of masks and fake weaponry in theaters, some are even starting bag searches and talks of metal detectors. While I completely understand and support these measures, it does make me a little sad as well.
Some of the happiest times in my adult life have occurred at midnight movie screenings. It always involves a large group of my friends and even family and an even larger groups of total strangers gathering together for a single purpose. Since most midnight screenings involve really geek-centric movies there were always great costumes on display. I once went to a Harry Potter screening where I sat in front of Princess Leia and Indiana Jones, and they were a lot of fun to talk to while we waited excitedly for our movie to start. I almost never engage in small talk with strangers, but somehow all those rules fall away for midnight movie screenings. There's always a sense of camaraderie and shared passions and pure joy at seeing something we've all been waiting for. It's a completely different experience than seeing a movie at any other time during the run – people applaud and cheer, no one texts or talks to their friends – we're all there to be completely transported to a new world. (One of my favorite moments was when an entire theater of Potter fans boo'd a Twilight trailer. Awesome. Then later when that same audience went silent as we watched Severus Snape make the ultimate sacrifice and show us an amazing love story.) I hope that theaters don't decide to take these midnight movies away from us, but, more importantly, I hope people don't stop going to them.
I don't think we should forget what happened in Colorado, but we can't let the actions of one disturbed man ruin one of the few ways we as a community gather together to share in a common interest. And we can't blame the movies, because it's not Christopher Nolan's fault that someone took his art and used it as a backdrop for his violent act. We all need the escape that the movies provide, and we also need the emotional catharsis that art, when done well, can provide for us.
So I will absolutely be there with the rest of my nerdy brethren at the midnight release for Frankenweenie. And The Hobbit. I'll leave behind my Wench-y personality for a few hours and talk to the other fans as we wait in long, cold lines to be transported away to magical worlds full of new and old fictional friends, refusing, as all good heroes do, to let the bad guys win.

*One of my heroes, Kevin Smith, expounds upon this idea at the beginning of his podcast Fat Man on Batman #8. I highly recommend giving the first fifteen minutes a listen.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Darker Shades of Rage

This one gets even more down and dirty, and personal, so proceed with caution friends and relatives.  And faint hearted strangers...

I thought I had gotten all of my rage out in the last post about the 50 Shades phenomenon, but then I saw this...

And then I decided to write a sequel.

It's kind of hard to put my rage into words that wouldn't get bleeped on network television. While I love those words, and use them often, I try to be a little more elevated with my vocabulary on this site. Just know that under all of this is a very heartfelt f*ck you.

The reason this, and the whole 50 Shades thing, makes me so mad is this continued idea that there's something wrong with people who are into bondage and dominance play without the holy sanction of reading these books. Liking to get spanked does not inherently make someone a bad person. Or a mean person. Or in need of a therapist. Or a potentially violent sociopath. It just means that the pain/pleasure centers in our brains play really nicely together. It has virtually no bearing on our moral compasses or our interactions with the world.

Additionally – nothing takes the fun out of a BDSM scene like someone worrying that they're not being “nice” enough. Stopping all the time to question the other person, tentative spanks, and extremely loose knots ruin the illusion and the moment. The pain and the implied danger are what make it fun. Constantly hearing “Oh my god, was that too hard?” does not. That's why you have safe words (or gestures if you're gagged.)

So Shady Ladies, or Wicked Christian's Bitches, or whatever your fandom has named itself, if you do find this new world you've entered into arousing and you want to play in the scene being condescending and judgemental about it is not the way to gain entree. There's quite enough anti-kinkster feeling floating around without people attempting to bring it into the community.

Oh – and to further shatter your illusions- the best place to find men willing to dominate you isn't Wall Street, or in the mythical handsome billionaires club. Generally those guys are the ones keeping all the professional lady-doms in business. The best place to find the guys willing to tie you down and spank you – Renaissance Faires and Sci-Fi Conventions. That's right ladies- those Star Trek nerds you mocked in high school, they're the ones with the best dungeons and toys. In fact last week at Comic-Con I can guarantee you that hotel rooms across San Diego were host to scenes of Batman tying up Wonder Woman and flogging her until she invoked the safe word. (Which was probably Superman. Nothing takes the power out of little Batman like hearing the name of that Kryptonian goody-two-shoes.) So run with that image next time you pick up your “naughty” books.

I realize I've devoted a lot of space to these books, and over-shared about my own personal life, but I really feel strongly about the things I brought up here. Growing up in a fairly conservative area and knowing that the women who led the pack in a lot of slut-shaming and pearl clutching are now shelling out cash for these books and acting like they discovered BDSM is pretty insulting and hypocritical. I've had these women ask me why I would ever want to read The Sexual Life of Catherine M, or inform me that the library would never stock something like Juliette. And clearly, from the title of the companion book I just presented, there is still a stigma attached to my interests. That somehow because I came into my kinks pre-Gray they're still evil and wrong, because I didn't go about it in the majority-approved fashion. And sometimes choking on hypocrisy makes me really angry.

I'll close once again by saying that if these books do actually open up some honest and non-judgemental dialog about sex and kinks and pleasure that will be great. Unfortunately I just don't see that happening. But what do I know? According to the Macleods, I'm not a nice person. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fifteen Shades of Rage

This one's going to get Cinemax After Dark, so family members and sensitive friends might want to skip it.
So unless you've been living in a cave for the past few months you're all aware that the latest publishing phenomenon is the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. And anyone who knows me at all will not be surprised to learn that I have a few issues with both the book and the phenomenon. Once again I put myself in the line of fire of the millions of rabid fans, but luckily very few people read this blog – so I'm probably safe.

As most people who know me will realize it's not the down and dirty BDSM I have a problem with, it's the following myriad problems, in no particular order:
  • Most of the women carting around these books are the same women who give me dirty looks and clutched their pearls for reading Marquis De Sade or Anais Nin in public. Ladies – I hate to break it to you – the S in S&M (which Fifty Shades focuses on) is named for the Marquis. So from now on I expect to be able to read 120 Days of Sodom anywhere I want, perhaps now with a post-it on the cover reading “It's like 50 Shades of Grey, but with a Better Vocabulary.”

  • This whole trilogy started as online Twilight slash fiction. Essentially it's Edward and Bella getting a little kinky. The only major thing that changed from fan-fic to bestseller was the names and taking away the sparkly vampire element . And judging from the horrible, repetitive, high school girl prose, that's really all that changed. I imagine that the editor they assigned to it had to get stupid drunk to get over the pain of paying for this drivel and passed out before they could bust out their red pen. If that's the bar we're setting for published works at this point I fear for the future of the written word. And I kind of enjoy the fact that some libraries don't want to stock it because it's so poorly written, not because it's naughty.

  • Most people (women) buying these books are buying it for some sort of e-reader, and most say it's because they don't want people to know what they're reading. And I call bullshit on that ladies. Especially since every other bored soccer mom is reading the exact same thing. It's not particularly naughty or salacious if every one's doing it. You can't claim to be a naughty kinkster unless you OWN it. Let your freak flag fly people.

  • I have a problem with how some of the kink is handled. And it essentially breaks down into two areas:

    a) They spend a lot of time setting up Christian's (the lead male/ dominant) troubled childhood and even send him off at the end of book one for some serious therapy. Guess what people – not everyone into BDSM, or the vast majority of sexual fetishes/kinks, has had some sort of troubled childhood, or needs a psychiatrist. As Dan Savage likes to say “It's a kink, not cancer.”

    b) The lead female Anastasia, who apparently grew up in Amish country as she's 21 and doesn't have an email address, is a wide-eyed virgin who hasn't even masturbated before meeting Christian. She then jumps into a full-time BDSM relationship and goes straight for the pain. That's like going from singing along with a song in your car to auditioning for a lead in a Broadway musical with no other steps in between. Really – a virgin with no experience, no fantasies, no self-pleasuring – just randomly decides she like being a sexual submissive. We're missing a few experiences somewhere in the narrative

    * I find it hilarious that all of a sudden all of these women claim to be into bondage and force and pain. Really ladies? Because I've found that most kinks show up in your mind somewhere before you and your book club get together to read a book and all decide you're submissives. And if you've made it to 35-40 without getting spanked during sex, or even thought about trying it, chances are you're not ready to jump into whips and ropes and domination. It takes a little while to build up to those things. And if you don't get off on the pain, or find pleasure in it, or properly prepare, it's just going to hurt.

  • I feel really, really, really bad for all the unsuspecting men out there whose wives/girlfriends are reading this and suddenly decide they're into bondage. These poor men are going to hunt down the closest sex shop and buy the special Shades of Grey branded anal beads, floggers and ropes at their wives/ girlfriends requests, take them home, attempt to use them on an unprepared or unaware woman and then get kicked in the nards when the women find out that it actually does hurt. Especially since the book does not provide all the instruction you need to safely delve into BDSM.

  • I am all for reading smut, but can't we read better-written smut? Or more honest smut? Or can't we all just acknowledge that we, as a species, like reading dirty books without all having to agree on one? And how exactly are the movies versions going to work? Because if they're true to the books it's NC-17 territory. And again I'm betting that most women waiting feverishly for these movies would judge me for my internet history, and some dvd purchases I've made.

  • I think the thing that's most upsetting to me is that women are proving to be a powerful consumer base for the publishing industry, but we're putting all our power behind books like Fifty Shades of Grey, and Twilight, and generic books in the Bridget Jones mode/ genre. And I know I'm losing girl points left and right on this blog, but I feel that there are better uses of our literary dollars. At least when we're getting behind The Hunger Games there's a female character who takes care of herself and everyone else around her. Or the Harry Potter phenomenon that gave us Hermione Granger, Ginny and Molly Weasly, and kick-ass Professor McGonagall, and a better love story than most in the form of Lily and Snape. Or we should have made sure that Tina Fey's Bossypants sold as many, if not more, copies as Fifty Shades.

I really feel better for getting all of that off my chest. As a final caveat – if anyone reading this book did use it as a way to finally express their kinks or as a gateway to legitimately discovering their kinks, then that's great. And if this eventually leads to a more sex-positive, everyone gets off the way they want to attitude, awesome, we need that in this country. I just feel like it's a fad that could really backfire on pre-Shades of Grey kinksters. (Most of whom are not reading the book. Mainly because we read The Story of O when we were teenagers.)
Let the angry comments commence.....

BookWench is currently reading Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore. Hilarious and informative.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I'm Back…and Still Angry!

I know, I know, I've been gone for a long time. I'm very, very sorry. I was away from the blog writing and producing my own web series. It's very literary and firmly ensconced in BookWorld, only a lot nicer than what I tend to write here. Check it out at

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. I thought I'd dive back into my Shakespearean Pet Peeves. So here it is, the silver medal pet peeve:

Shakespeare Made Stupid 

 If you walk into any major chain bookstore at this point and head to the Shakespeare section you'll be hard-pressed to find a version of his works that has not been dumbed down in some soul-crushing, literature- destroying way. It kills something inside of me every time I see some student buying a version of a great work of literature that has been stripped of so much of what makes it beautiful.

I understand that the language can be daunting, but one of the major reasons we read is to attain knowledge - so use it as a way to learn. My parents started taking me to see Shakespeare productions when I was about four or five. I certainly did not understand every word, or even most of the words, but I could follow the story well enough by listening for the words I did know. Then when I was old enough to start reading Shakespeare on my own I could infer what the words I didn't know meant in context. Or I could use one of those magical dictionary things. Or I could ask my English teacher at school. Even while studying the Bard on a college level I ran into things I didn't understand, and I found a special dictionary just for Shakespeare's works. And now that the magical Internet exists there's really no excuse for running in terror from every thee and thou and bodkin. The one thing I never did was ask someone to dumb it down for me, because that's cheating.

Not only is it lazy, but it loses so much in the dumbing-down process. Frankly “But soft what light through yonder window breaks?” loses a lot of it's beauty and magic when it turns into “But wait, what's that light in the window over there?” And the philosophical musing of “To be or not to be, that is the question.” becomes the pedestrian “The question is: is it better to be alive or dead?” And once you stripped all the beauty and poetry away- you're not reading Shakespeare anymore. You're reading some modern editor's soulless version of one of the English languages most enduring artists. See- these things make me REALLY angry. And that's why my co-workers would gather around if someone asked me for one.  There was a pool going for what Shakespeare- related stupid question would finally push me over the edge.

Now- I'm not judging the storybook versions of the plays written for children. I think they're a great way to introduce anyone under the age of eleven to the stories of Shakespeare, so when they're old enough they can delve into the language. However, after middle school you should be able to make your way through the play in its original form.

So if you've read the Cliffs Notes, Spark Notes, Monarch Notes, Shakespeare-Made-Simple, or Barron's Side-by-Side versions of Hamlet, then I'm sorry to tell you – you have not read Hamlet. In fact, if it's one of the Notes versions, you haven't even read a book or a story. You've read what's left over when language, character, story and poetry have been removed from a cornerstone of the literary canon. And heaven help you if you ask me for an “English translation” of one of the greatest works of English literature, because I will absolutely give you a lecture about the language as I walk you to the shelf and hand you the most expensive version of the play you're looking for. I call it a stupidity tax, and my friend, you've earned it.

BookWench just finished reading Tough Sh*t by Kevin Smith.  He's my film-making inspiration, and this book was amazing.  I laughed, I cried, I used about 25 Post-it flags for the important bits.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Vote for Me!

Independent Book Blogger Awards

Vote for this blog for the Independent Book Blogger Awards!


Monday, February 13, 2012

BookWench in the Crosshairs

So this post may lose me some major lit-nerd cred and one or more of my woman cards, because I'm going to go up against some of the pillars of lady lit nerd-dom...The Brontes. I've alluded to these issues here and here, and thought it was time to address them head on, mainly because I haven't had any really hateful comments directed my way in a while.
My first Bronte issue shouldn't raise too much ire, since it's mostly an opinion on the overall reading experience. I have never enjoyed reading a novel by a Bronte. It took me six tries to make it past the first three chapters of Jane Eyre. And the only reason I made it the last time was because it was required reading for an English class. To me they always felt dense and forced in a way I don't respond to that well. And I read books like this for fun. However, the Brontes always felt like work.
The issue I have that's going to get me hate mail is that I do not understand, at all, how the books Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are held up as romantic masterpieces. There is a major disconnect for me between those stories and any idea of romance or love.
Now, before everyone gets up in arms, I totally understand the appeal of the bad boy. A cursory glance at my dating history abundantly proves that. It's a laundry list of straight-up bad boys and, far worse in the long run, Eddie Haskell-type men. (I included the link for those under 30/ people not obsessed with Nick at Night in the late '80s.) This list, along with my Wench-y personality traits totally explain why I'm still single, but further exploration into that is material for a different blog that would reach Tolstoy-esque length.
Sorry...Back to the plot. For some reason these “bad boys” of literature really just piss me off. If it were just a moody, temperamental man with anger issues I would be on board, but Rochester and Heathcliff take it to a scary, abusive, borderline psychopathic place. And as much fun as I've had with bad boys if I had discovered one had an insane wife locked away in the attic while being engaged to me I think any sort of continued relationship would be out of the question. Even if the wife eventually died. Seriously Jane, he did it to one wife, the room's set up, who's to say he wouldn't eventually shove you up there.*
As for Heathcliff, he and Catherine together manage to ruin two families for multiple generations out of some very misguided views on love and revenge. And I understand the arguments that Catherine is a product of her time, and to some extent I respect that, but there is still a level of foolishly romantic child with little to no backbone that propels the story to it's fairly awful end.
And before the daggers appear at my throat, I do have a romantic side. I hide it under a lot of black clothing and attitude, but put in the movie Love, Actually and I'm a crying mess on the floor by the end. I just can not understand the idea of romance that involves such intense levels of lying and vengeance. And for women like the Brontes who were flouting social convention by being writers, I guess I've always been disappointed that the women in their novels seem to get the bad end of the deal.
So now between Team Edward and Team Bronte I'm popping on lit hit lists all over the place. At least with Team Bronte I expect well-written, correctly spelled death threats.

*Yes, I absolutely yell at fictional characters.  They make well fleshed-out imaginary friends.