Pottering around my favourite charity shop one day, in the classic 'curious owl' head-tilting pose of book-browsers everywhere, I came across The Worst Book In The World.
Now, I have read many books in my time. I have battled through dreary Classics and pretentious nouveau wanque. I have read the entire Fifty Shades trilogy. I have read the first three pages of Djuna Barnes' Nightwood at least six times. I know from whence I speak where bad books are concerned.
But this book. Oh my. I can't remember the title, or the author - I wish I could so I'd know to avoid it like an embarrassed one-night-stand in future. But even if I could, I wouldn't share it with you, because I don't want this idiot's tiny fame growing any greater, his google rankings going any higher, or to increase the chances that someone, somewhere, might have to suffer as I suffered.
The blurb promised a Hard-Hitting and Incisive Interrogation of the social, political and sexual life of a football hooligan. I like hard-hitting! I like incisive interrogation! Nosing into the fictional lives of the kinds of people I have never met and may never know is my idea of a fun Saturday night!
But no: it was, still, The Worst Book In The World. Quite apart from the astonishingly clunky writing, the utterly, amateurishly, flat characterisation and the hilariously awful sex scenes, it was the most blatantly sexist, racist, homophobic piece of shit that has ever slid past my eyeballs. Fiction can portray bigotry without perpetuating it - The Sopranos springs to mind - but honestly, this barely even qualified as fiction, and most certainly didn't have even the slightest shred of the deftness, self-awareness or intelligence to be able to tread that fine line. Seriously. It was awful.
Two chapters in, I admitted defeat. I hate not finishing a book, but I didn't want even another sentence of this tripe in my head. But this left me in quite the quandry: what do you do with a book that bad?
Obviously I couldn't give it to someone else: that is a torture I wouldn't inflict on anyone.
I couldn't give it to a charity shop: while raising more money for a good cause may in some way offset the evil I was very sure this book was perpetuating, I didn't think the former would outweigh the latter.
I'll be honest, I was tempted to destroy it in some way, but couldn't set fire to it: for the rest of my life, I'd know that I was the kind of person who had one day burnt a book.
So I searched my middle class soul and came up with the only possible solution: I put it in the recycling.
I'm not sure what effect it will have on this story if I tell you that I am now - enthusiastically and voluntarily - reading the Twilight saga. Yeah, I know.