Reading tastes vary. A lot. When all is said and done, I’d like to think I’m an open-minded albeit critical reader. With all the press given to Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, I am giddy to give it a read and see how it strikes my sensibilities. So when I come across a wildly popular book that makes me cringe, it’s not enough to not like it. I must analyze the reasons for my loathing. Hey, what can I say. I am editor and that’s how I roll. Analyzing a text is just as fun as being entertained by one.
Here’s a list of books that left a bad taste in my mouth. I hope you’ll feel compelled to share yours in the spirit of good-hearted book bashing. In this age where too many people take offense at everything, let’s let loose and do our best to offend each other by putting down books others have loved. Ready?
Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James
Ugh. Just ugh. I wrote a scathing review of this title back when I posted regular book reviews. I never could bring myself to read the other two books in the series, though I do plan on watching the movie to revel in its shortcomings. As for the recent release of Grey (a re-telling of the first book from the male’s perspective), it’s no stretch to imagine how amateur the prose and how vanilla the sex. I love a steamy read as much as any woman with a pulse, and I edit lesbian romances for a client, but there’s just no denying the writing and the sex isn’t up to par. I guess it’s a good thing if Fifty Shades can act as a gateway book to better erotica.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Yet another book I reviewed here back in the day. My reaction to this book really made me question my reading radar. I remember the frenzy that literally swept the nation when it was released. EVERYONE loved this book. My reaction was meh at best. I was left wondering how such a readable book could be so bad. The characters struck me as flat and stereotypical, misguided elements of suspense, and the narrator’s lack of substantial conflict. The use of dialect, historical inaccuracies, and the deal with the “chocolate” pie left me to conclude that I “had just ingested the literary equivalent of sugar-coated cereal.”
The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel
I credit Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children Series as a major player in stoking my love of books and for making me resort to lies to learn the author’s name. I must have watched the movie version countless times on HBO when I was in the fourth grade. This led me to ask my teacher who wrote it because I told her my mom wanted to read the book. I knew the librarian would never let me check it out, so I kept that post-it note for over a year and bought the first three books the summer before sixth grade when I was visiting my older sister in San Diego.
The adventures of Ayla and later Jondalar had me hooked. The amount of research required impressed me at a young age, though I readily liked all the pre-historic steamy sex that took place as well. And then, after thirty years since the first book, the sixth and final book in the was released in March of 2011. It was the third book I ever downloaded to my first Kindle. And it was horrible! The major impression I got was that Auel’s editors didn’t try to polish it much since it was going to be guaranteed bestseller. The book rehashes past romantic conflicts, incessantly summarizes its five predecessors, and get this… most of the action is of Ayla being high on Shaman juice and studying cave paintings. No. Just no. Such a disappointing end to a great series.
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
This is the type of book that should be right up my alley, but alas, it’s one of the few books I have ever given up reading. I’ve been trying to get better about quitting books I can’t get into. The writing is top-notch, but the premise struck me as tedious. The main character Ursula Todd is born and then dies… again, and again, and again. I found it hard to invest much in a character that keeps starting her life over. My eyes kept glazing over and dreaded sigh after sigh resulted as I tried to push forward to the next chapter and read about a character I couldn’t feel a connection with. It’s a divisive book with reviews running the gamut on Amazon.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Woot! What’s not to like about random zombie action thrown into a literary classic? Apparently a lot since this is yet another of the few books I’ve ever shelved. The approach struck me as too gimmicky and the zombie elements too plunked in with not enough connection to the story. Granted, I read a sliver of the book, and I love zombies. I just don’t love zombies taking over the work of Jane Austen. If I had to pick something I liked about this book, it would be the zombie illustrations. However, literary mash-ups like this are indeed an intriguing idea not to be ignored.
Do tell. What popular books have rubbed you the wrong way?
I may get lynched here but…I hated the Harry Potter books. I mean, yes, great fun for kids but adults?
Andrea, we’re in good company then. I tried to get into the HP books, but just couldn’t do it. I always joked with my students that I must be one of the few English teachers who never gave them a read. A couple of years later when I wasn’t in the classroom anymore, I tired. I really, really tried to give the boy wizard a chance, but nope. Fantasy generally isn’t my thing, and add to that my hit-and-miss luck with books geared toward young readers, and I quickly shelved the first. book. As luck would have it, I did buy the entire movie series at a bargain price, and have since only watched the first two movies. I dunno… It’s great so many love these books by Rowling. I’m just not one of them.
Wuthering Heights. I’m convinced people only like it because it’s what the smart kids say. Life of PI. I liked it but could easily put it down and didn’t finish for months. My norm is to read in one sitting only getting up for food and to use the rest room. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies…I couldn’t either. At all.
Mandi, I vaguely remember liking Wuthering Heights. I know I read it in high school, but movie versions are probably what the story sticks with me.
Seconded! The Brontës are miserable and rubbish. And that is my official, literary opinion 😉
The God of Small Things, a Booker prize winner but I couldn’t reach half way!
Dark Places, I wonder how it became the best seller, I left this one also because of nightmares it gave me.
Sons And lovers have always made me wonder what is so classic about it to prescribe it for young literature readers.
I also wonder what made The Perks Of Being A Wallflower so popular. We all know what it says, what is there to appreciate, neither the language nor the weak characterisation!
Balroop, I’ve heard that title The God of Small Things so many times, but still have never picked it up and giving it a read. I read the blurb on Amazon thanks to you comment, but I’m still on the fence. Sweeping sagas usually aren’t my cup of tea. On the other hand, I did enjoy The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the way it captures how stifling depression can be for a teenager.
I’m reading Life after Life now & I love her writing! Not all books are for everybody. Loved reading your perspective.
A few years ago, many of the book clubs were reading and loving- “The Elegant Gathering of White Snows.”
In my review on Amazon, I wrote: “I hated the characters, the storyline, the plot, the irrelevance. The best thing about this book was turning the last page!”
Looking forward to seeing what others say.
Balroop says above she didn’t’ like THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS.
Interesting. This book is in my Top 10!
Kim, I saw your picture of Life after Life the other day on Facebook and thought of you as I was writing this post 😉 It’s the only book of Atkinson’s that I’ve tried to read, but I do want to give her other titles a try as well.
I have two friends who absolutely loved Middlesex but I couldn’t get through it. I enjoyed The Help although I wouldn’t call it a great book. I also enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love but as a working mom I found the main character difficult to identify with. Now Wuthering Heights I absolutely love so . . . as you say, there’s no accounting for taste!
Jan, Middlesex has been on my reading list ever since I reviewed The Virgin Suicides. I still haven’t gotten around to reading it, but I vow to give it a try since one of my English teacher friends with similar tastes swears by it. I felt the same way about Eat, Pray, Love. It was hard to identify with someone with the means to travel such as Elizabeth Gilbert has. I wish I could have done so six months ago when my world turned upside down, but nope. I had to hold down the fort.
I despised The Road enough to write the only strongly negative review I’ve ever done. (Usually, if I don’t like a book, I won’t waste time reviewing it.) Plot? Character development? Resolution? Ha. I swear to this day that two words got it to a publisher and made it a best seller: “Cormac” and “McCarthy.”
Larry, thanks for stopping by. I tend to either love or hate McCarthy’s work. I couldn’t get into Blood Meridian. At all. Yet, I loved All the Pretty Horses trilogy. I also got really invested in The Road. As a post-apocalyptic novel, it made some pertinent statements about humanity, but I can also see how his work causes divisive reactions.
It was a long time ago, but I still remember being infuriated by The Bridges of Madison County. It read like a screenplay treatment in which all the emotion was to be supplied by the actors. There were paragraphs that read… and then he told her all about his dreams…. instead of him telling her about his dreams.
It was manipulative and left me feeling angry. I pretty much stopped reading POPULAR women’s fiction at that point!
Candy, I’ve only seen the movie version of Bridges, but your comment makes me think of when I read Dances with Wolves. It read like a screenplay to me with all of the imagery and emotion meant to be added in later for the screen. As a book, it’s not very rich at all. But on the screen? Wow.
Film and written fiction are so different and adaptations are a third corner of the creative world. I just wish that authors of books realized that as novels, the slap dash of a film treatment is an empty shell. As a treatment, it’s the right way to go, but as a full novel… I felt cheated and realized that many so called “popular” novels are like that.
¨Pride and Prejudice and Zombies¨ by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith… I haven´t heard of that book!… Odd!
As to your question!…. My choices are ¨The Old Man and The Sea¨, by Hemingway… which I found boring and lilting… I read it many years ago, though… ¨The miserables¨ by Victor Hugo, even when I read a reduced version… And Thomas Mann´s ¨The Magic Mountain¨, which I couldn’t finish… There also classics in spanish such as Calderon de la Barca´s ¨Life Is a Dream¨and ¨Don Quixote¨… which leads me to the unavoidable question ¨Why Do Teachers Assign Boring Books to their students?¨.. Thanks for sharing your list dear Jeri! 😀 All my best wishes! Aquileana.
Aqui, haven’t heard of the flesh-eating zombies taking over Austen’s work? Get out of town. I guess it’s a whole series now. Go figure. I love the musical version of Les Miz, but have never given the full-length version or an abridged version a try. I did attempt to read all of Don Quixote mainly because I had to teach an excerpt of it in the tenth grade literature book I used with my students. Cervantes’ writing style is so long-winded and old-fashioned. After all, the novel really was a novel form back in the day 😉 As a former teacher, I will simply say it’s awful to have teach an entire class of students the same piece of literature when maybe only 25% will be halfway interested in it. Interest is such a huge boon to reading comprehension, especially at a young age. I used to like using literature circles where students could choose to read a certain book with a few other peers rather than with the entire class.
I would add another Pulitzer Prize winner: Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News. Such a dreary and unlikable main character. I can’t say if he became more appealing because I couldn’t get to even the halfway point in that book.
This is a fun post as was the one about guilty pleasure books. Reading not only your choices but those of your readers makes me feel hopeful as a writer. There are readers out there who will share my taste and those that don’t. It’s all good.
Jagoda, oh no! I love Annie Proulx’s writing style and count The Shipping News on my top-ten list of all-time favorite books. That’s okay though, we can still be blogging friends. By the end of the book, Quoyle has faced his demons and becomes a better, more grounded person. I always relate to the dreary characters who get themselves out of a situation of quiet desperation.
Haa! Funny, The Shipping News is one of my all-time faves, too!
As soon as I saw the post title, I immediately thought Fifty Shades of Grey, and it was first on your list. I hated the characters, and I thought that the writing was absolutely atrocious. It needed serious editing STAT. I also hated the idea of zombies infiltrating Jane Austen’s work, because it is just so out of place.
Oh you said it Amberr, utterly ghastly book, I didn’t make it past the usual ‘MUST READ 100 pages before binning it’ rule. And now they have made it into an utterly nauseating film!
I never miss a chance to dis EREGON–reading it was pure hell. I’d heard a few good things and thought it would be great to read to my then 6-year-old after they loved me reading them The Hobbit. Oh, no. Not only was it the worst book I’d read since school days, I felt obligated to finish it–because of the kids, you know. And since I was reading it aloud, I couldn’t even skim. Ugh.
I’m with you on 50 Shades as many people seem to be. I, unlike many, push through a not so great book because I’m determined to keep reading to see what all the hype is; that’s exactly what I think it was that sold those books. And yes, I read the whole trilogy in anticipation of something greater to come. I also agree with you on The Help.
Now, I just received my pre-ordered copy of Go Set a Watchman, and can’t wait to sink my eyes into it, after I get through 2 other books in my TBR. There’s been a lot of controversy circling Lee’s newest book, but as I loved To Kill A Mockingbird, and this should be Lee’s last work, again I can’t help but want to read it. 🙂
Harry Potter & more recently Middlemarch. The later was raved about in my book group & I read 250 pages but couldn’t stand the stuffy britishness of it all so didn’t finish. I’ve also got better at letting books go. Too much good stuff out there.
Carsick, by John Waters. Even Waters’ editor must have known how definitively boring this supposed account of his hitchhiking across country was, because the first half of the book was not about his trip at all. It was a fictionalized account of what might have happened, but for the fact that it was too stupid to have really occurred. I wasn’t just bored by this book, I actively hated it. The second I read the last page and closed the cover I went straight to Goodreads to write as scathing a review as I could come up with. On top of everything else it demonstrates how publishers will back celebrities with nothing to say and no writing ability as opposed to unknown authors with real talent.
Everyone thinks Running With Scissors is so funny. I thought it was interesting, for sure, but so much of it made me go, “ICK.” I wished Burroughs had toned it down in a few places.
Laura, yeah Running with Scissors has some good humorous parts, but then it definitely takes a steep nose dive into super-gross. Poop analysis, who knew?
Jeri, my immediate mental reply was Captain Corelli’s Mandolin…it took me about 4 years to finish it. Only because I made myself see the film, which I loved, could I return a final time and complete it!
Great conversation starter!
Rosalind, I am amazed that you stuck with that book for four years. I do have some that will take me half a year to finish on occasion.
Jeri, I agree with your fifty shades assessment. Obviously the book is geared more toward women, but when a copy happened to end up in my hands the libido in me desired to check out the hype. It was absolutely terrible and frustrates me as a writer to see popular culture gearing toward what seems like amateur writing. On top of Fifty Shades (pun intended) was the even worse Twilight Saga. While the concept was interesting, I can’t see where it possibly becomes this “amazing” thing. Not only was it written in a poor version of first person, but the plot went nowhere. Yes, the concept was there, but to span a story over a series of books where nothing really out of this world and unpredictable happens just seems like a waste of paper and ink to me… Not to mention valuable time.
Rick, my experience with the Twilight series was one that went from sharing in the mad excitement sweeping the land and then wanting to throw the final book across the room when I finished it. I read all of them over a Thanksgiving break from school and nearly went into a book coma, but at least I read them back to back and didn’t waste too much time on them. And to think Meyers’ books beget James’s books!
Sorry Jeri, can’t help you out here.
I really can’t remember the last time I read (or started) a book I didn’t like. Usually after reading reviews of the book I decide whether or not it’s the type of book I like. I did NOT read 50 Shades of grey for that reason, knew I wouldn’t like it, did not read Harry Potter because some of my kids were into it at the time and the quick glances I gave it decided no for me. By the sounds of it what you write I was right on both counts.
I’m also not sure about Go Set a Watchman – I loved To Kill a Mockingbird – not sure I want the original undermined. We’ll see.
Lenie, I plan to post a review of Lee’s new book when I get a chance to read it. Maybe if you’ve also read it by then, you can let me know how it sat with you.
I have never actually admitted how much I hated Harry Potter! LOL So I’m happy to see that I’m not alone. I’m with you on Jean Aurl…loved her stuff until the very last one and I was upset! Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now is the only book in my life that I threw in the trash! If burning were not illegal, I would have done that instead! LOL Visceral hate with that one.
Jacquie, visceral hate for Tolle’s book? I’ve been meaning to read it for months now at the suggestion of my therapist. Knowing we have similar outlooks, etc. I am now really curious to see how The Power of Now will end up striking me.
Oh boy, ANYTHING by Danielle Steele and probably one of the worst “best'” sellers in the world, “The Secret”. I can’t believe the author hasn’t been exposed as the female Ron Hubbard.
Pamela, your comment made me laugh. I think a must have read a couple of Danielle Steele books in high school, but can’t remember which ones. I just remember how the big flashy print on the covers always caught my eye.
I read all girl’s filling station by Fannie Flagg for my book club and didn’t finish it because i wasn’t that into it. I read the help and liked it but i was not blown away by it. I read girl on the train and fox catcher recently and liked both of those books. I figure life is to short to read a book you don’t like. Thanks for the post! 🙂
Crystal, I agree about not wasting time on books we don’t like, though sometimes the loathing fully comes about at the end when the reader gets a chance to reflect on the book’s overall quality and impact.
Hi Jeri, your critique of 50 Shades of grey made me chuckle as I thought of a friend who said they hated those books so much they could just barely get through the third one! Not my type of reading, so I didn’t even give those a shot. I also thought of how excited I was after reading the Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns (LOVED them both) to grab Khaled Hosseini’s third book as soon as it hit the shelf and how disappointed I was. Don’t know if everyone else liked it but I hated it. Was so bummed.
Susan, to read a follow-up book in a series is perhaps the most disappointing reading experience of all when we’ve had prior books to really snag us and make us fall in love with the story and characters. I felt so let-down by the final book in Auel’s Earth’s Children series.
I’m trying to think of a popular book that I’ve read that I didn’t love as much as the rest. The only one that pops into my head is Life of Pi. I read it because everyone was reading it, but I knew certain scenes wouldn’t sit well with me. I try not to read or watch movies with animals because something usually bad happens to one of the animals and then I start balling. I think it was the back-to-back reading of Charlotte’s Web, Old Yeller, and then Where the Red Fern Grows that did me in back in the 4th grade. Those were all great books, but gosh did I cry. And our teacher read them to us, so I cried in front of the whole class. I wasn’t the only one, but it was still traumatizing.
TB, I’ve only seen the movie version of Lif of Pi, but can definitely see how reading those sorts of scenes involving animals can be traumatizing. I too remember reading all those tragic animal books as a kid, and The Yearling was probably the one that most got to me. I once workshopped a short story where a dad shot a bagful of puppies. That did not go over well with the group…
Well I have to agree with Lenie on this one. I’ve certainly read books that were far from stellar, but I can’t remember the last time I read a book that I truly hated. But then, I haven’t read 50 Shades, Harry Potter, Twilight, blah, blah. It’s a personality flaw I believe – the masses go after a book and it’s immediately on my never-to-read list. Should probably look into that one of these days. 🙂
Marquita, your reading radar for not pursuing the bestsellers is probably spot-on. Wide selling books often can’t match the content and quality of more obscure ones, though that me speaking in very broad strokes.
Good for you for admitting there are popular books you disliked. I enjoyed reading the post and other readers’ choices. I can’t easily think of a popular or critically acclaimed book I truly disliked, but I have chosen not to read popular books because I didn’t think I’d enjoy them, Fifty Shades of Grey was one of those.
Donna, that’s admirable that you choose not to read certain popular books because you don’t think you’ll like them. I find I add books to my TBR list like they’re going out of style and tend to pick the ones that get the most buzz too often only to be let down.
I smiled on seeing that ‘The Help’ is second on your list. I have to agree that it did nothing for me – in fact I have not even read it from front to back.
The book does not give nearly enough as it should. The characters need to be developed. It is too ‘neat’ when in fact things were very grim in that era.
The film was so so.
Phoenicia, yay! Glad to hear our reactions to The Help are much the same. The whole “too neat” aspect of things was what got to me the most.
Dang, you left this wide open for me. I have so many gripes over traditionally published books nowadays that I’d have to say 90% of the books I’ve bought over the past 3-years have been huge disappointments.
Beatuiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire is a disaster in itself. This is a perfect example of anyone publishing a book without knowing anything about writing. Repetitive. Characters are obnoxious and repetitious plot. It’s sad because it’s another popular book about an obsessive, destructive relationship. Women really don’t think highly of themselves. Once We Were Brothers by Ronald Balson is horribly written book. He didn’t present anything new regarding the Nazi era, and it was a shoddy attempt, at best, regarding his flipping from past to present. Slammed by Colleen Hoover. I had high hopes for this book. It started out good, but by the middle of the book I didn’t like the characters, and by the end, there was nothing appealing about any of them. Plus, the story was told to me. In my opinion, telling is fine for ancient times, but not for today’s literature. The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline has an interesting subject matter, but not an interesting story. I found the history of the orphan trains much more fascinating than her story.
Denise, I’ve had Beautiful Disaster on my list, but I trust your judgement and taste, so will probably take that one off my list and go for another.
I struggled through the first 200 pages of Bonfire of the Vanities before finally giving up. I loathed that book. Needless to say, I didn’t see the movie version, either. This was a fun idea, Jeri.
Jeannette, I’m impressed you slogged through 200 pages! I vaguely remember trying to watch the movie once, but it didn’t pull me in. At all.
This is a strange one for me to admit, but the Song of Ice and Fire series from George RR Martin. I got most of the way through the first book and tossed it. The best I could figure is, he just wanted an epic fantasy where he kills off everyone in the story. The book, to me, felt like he was writing it specifically as a script instead of as a story. I thought maybe the series on HBO would be a better fit and even that disappointed me. The whole thing on HBO is more like soft core porn with a bit of story thrown in but the story is only there as a place holder for the porn. Mind you, I have felt the same thing about many of the shows on HBO now and on Showtime. The stories are there simply as place holders until we get to the porn. It all gets old really fast. I would rather get back to stories that are actually stories.
Jon, yeah HBO and Showtime do like to throw in as much flesh as possible. Martin’s books aren’t my cup of tea, as is most fantasy, but I do think he does get across how life and the struggle for domination over others often brings many senseless deaths. And so it goes… winter is coming 😉
There are a lot of current popular books I cannot stand, the whole Twilight Series for one. Turning vampires into love starved teenagers, I do not get it. I tried to read it since it was my niece’s favorite book. Then I realized my niece was a member of this current generation, and that answered that question.
William, and sparkly vampires too boot! I don’t really get the de-fanged vampire approach either. I like my monsters scary thank you very much.
For me the book that people love and I dislike would have to be Rich Dad Poor Dad. It is one of the most overrated finance books of all time.
Jason, what about Rich Dad Poor Dad irked you the most?
I’ve struggled with classics for some time and may get lynched like another commenter mentioned but yeah, the first one that comes to mind is Moby Dick. I tried, I promise. Many times while sitting on random beaches with nothing else to read and only Melville’s supposed timeless classic on my list, and the words just didn’t flow like other masterful novels.
Maybe it’s the time period or my state of mind but no matter how many professors and friends quoted it or asked me about certain parts, I just couldn’t.
Jane Austen is also on my hitlist but mostly because I’m not into reading about aristocracy and the “struggles” of the upper classes. Maybe someday when I’m rich and famous, her books will appeal to me. Maybe my mention of Austen will get the most vitriolic responses because I remember getting a tongue lashing from a relative about that one.
Bring it people! No, don’t. You probably have lots of good points to make about her writing and I really don’t think I can outduel them. So I’ll just leave it at Moby Dick and just forget anything that I said about Jane Austen. She is god. This is on you, Jeri, if people hunt me down. Look at what you’ve done, haha.
Duke, your comment brought a hearty chuckle from me at the end of another busy day, so thanks. I had the privilege of reading Moby Dick in a graduate class on literary research methods from a Melville scholar. Oh. My. Never again…
Like you, I am getting better at letting a book go, but it still comes with a certain amount of guilt. Then I berate myself as ten times the fool for feeling guilty for wasting more of my life on drivel. After only a handful of pages of FSoG, and having to physically restrain myself from grabbing my yellow highlighter and my red pen, I was able to put it aside with zero remorse. So there is hope for me.
I find, in general, “the classics” are the most torturous for me. Even as a child, I would think, “What were they (the folks who deemed the book a must read) smoking?”, and how counterproductive it was to foist this, excuse my French but, crap on kids when part of their goal was to instill a love of reading? You would think, after our generation was subjected to such cruel and unusual punishment, and now we are in the position of being the educators, we would know better. Perhaps it’s a “If I had to suffer, then they must suffer as well” mentality.
Prime example, my high school junior’s required summer reading is “I am Malala”. Even though the book is obviously written by a teenager and could use a bit more polish, I am finding it fascinating. My 16 year old, on the other hand, would rather poke pins in her eyes than read it. My argument is to her is, “at least they’re not saddling you with Tolstoy or, God forbid, Dyer’s Erroneous Zones.” (See, I told you – cruel and unusual punishment.)
After college, I discovered the world of “want to read” as opposed to “have to read”, and Oh what a glorious world it is. Miracle of miracles, Salinger, Golding, Steinbeck & Huxley were not able to squash my love of reading.
I have, from time to time, been swayed by peer pressure. If I feel as if I am the only person in the world who has not read something, then I will pick up the book – hence my momentary loss of judgement with FSoG – and more times then not, I am disappointed. Example: Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper – let’s just say that was the last time I picked up a book without researching what it was about. Well written, but sorry, I read to escape, not to have my guts ripped out. The ONLY book for me, which has lived up to the hype, was Angels and Demons. (I actually called out of work because I had stayed up all night reading.)
The Help – liked the movie better (yeah, that rarely happens). Pi – painful, but I should have known better. Eat Pray Love – Eh…at least I finished it. Kite Runner – picked it up 5 separate times before I gave up and donated it. The world can turn their nose up at me, but I have decided to eschew Hemingway, Tolkien & Melville, in favor of Laurens, Hooper & Coulter.
I apologize for my verbosity, but as an avid reader and an author, you hit upon a passionate subject.
Christina, so glad to hear I hit upon a passionate subject for you! I go back and forth on what students should be assigned to read in the classroom. As a teacher, I’ve tried everything imaginable to expose students to a wide variety of material. At the end of the day, it’s just hard to read one book as a class because so many factors go into why we may nor may not engage with a book. Truth be told, I had the most fun teaching Shakespeare. Many students initially hated the very thought, but once we did drama exercises and a ton of silly other background building activities, they at least wanted to try to understand and maybe even enjoyed themselves. Gasp! Then again, I was the kid who was off in a corner by myself in the tenth grade reading Goethe. I kid you not 😉
Brilliant topic! For some reason I tend to hate a lot of popular movies rather than books – though I’m 100% with you on 50 Shades. We’re definitely not alone in finding it unbearable, but it continues to baffle and a little bit disturb me that anyone liked it. Have to disagree on Life After Life, weirdly enough – it’s actually not really up my street in theory, but I found it captivating.
Claire, your take on Life After Life in comparison to mine is proof how we should all occasionally branch out and seek titles we normally wouldn’t read. A person just never knows what the next pleasant surprise might come from.
Coming late to the party…
Of books I’ve hated, I think they can be divided into:
1) Something to do with the book (writing style, characters, plot);
2) Something to do with me. Those books where I can’t put my finger on anything that’s actually wrong with it, it’s just not my sort of book.
Twilight, I think I got halfway through the first chapter of the fire book before deciding that I couldn’t stand Bella Swan. Nasty, selfish, whiny, stupid, wet, wimpy, die-away, and pathetic. Definitely die-in-a-fire material.
Lord of the Rings… got halfway through the first book and gave up. Boring, pretentious, and smug. My husband tried to get me to watch the films with him, and I think I suffered through the first one. However, making me watch the other two would have been divorce material.
Life of Pi – I got through it, but my reaction was “is that it?” I’ve filed that under “clearly, not my sort of book.” I could appreciate that it was well-written, but it just didn’t do much for me. (A bit like Monet: I can’t stand Monet. But I can acknowledge that Monet was an excellent artist, without liking his stuff.)
The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova – for me, a disappointment because the plot didn’t make sense. The writing was beautiful, and everything seemed to be going so well… then, flop. That extra feeling of betrayal as you realise it could have been so good – and the author muffed it at the last minute.
But then, where would we be if everyone liked all the same kind of books? I think it’s actually more interesting to discuss books that we have different opinions on – that way, one is more likely to learn something new.
T.K., thanks for stopping by and chiming in with such a thoughtful comment. Also, kudos for making me laugh out loud with your reaction to Bella as a character 😉
Huckleberry Finn! I love Mark Twain’s other books, but I could never get into this supposed American classic.
I’m with you on Fifty Shades of Grey (I couldn’t even get past the reading sample), but had a completely different reaction to Clan of the Cave Bear than you did. I couldn’t stand it when I read it in the 70s. I recently re-read it to see if it was really as bad as I remembered it. It was. Poorly researched, and I had to roll my eyes when the author put American Meadowlarks onto the Siberian tundra. I always notice when a bird shows up in the wrong place.
Ann, interesting given how much Auel is always touted for doing on her books. While I did enjoy the first three for what they were worth, I truly loathed the fifth and final book and was ambivalent toward the fourth one.
Haha…I read one page of Fifty Shades of Grey and couldn’t take it seriously. It just seemed so silly. The book that drove me crazy was Kite Runner. I could recognize it was a good book but couldn’t get into it personally. Sometimes a book just doesn’t gel with you I guess. And then when I finally got myself in a groove with it, my puppy ate the third to the last page and that was it.