The title of this post is self-explanatory, but this is my list of books that other people seem to love (or at least hail as classics), but that I really hated. And I am NOT linking these up to make it easy to purchase them because I don’t think anyone should purchase them ever because I think they stink. I am including a Curently On Sale Kindle list at the bottom of the post for books I actually do recommend.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville. I read this in both high school and in college so it’s gotten two chances which is more than I usually grant a book I hated the first time around. When I read this in college I was very open-minded since my professor was amazing and had made other classic works come to life for me in a way I hadn’t expected. Sadly, even the tremendous passion of Dr. Lundin could not make me see the light with this one. Every time this is called, “The Great American Classic” I shudder a little in embarrassment for America. This book is 700 + pages of watching paint dry. The worst.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Cathy is an idiot and Heathcliff is an ogre. Everything is super dramatic for no reason. There is no romance here for me.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. No. Just no.
Anything by Mark Twain: Perhaps it’s because reading so much dialect gives me a headache, but I have just never enjoyed anything by Mark Twain unless you count the Wishbone episode where he does Tom Sawyer. Because that I could get behind.
Dishonorable Mention: The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I mention this because it’s so highly lauded as this amazing example of feminist literature and I just don’t know why. I know it was “revolutionary” at the time or whatever, but I just think we have so many better examples of feminist literature – why do we continue to hold this up?
The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The action of this book could have been condensed into about ten pages. “But he is being so literary –evoking weariness and boredom through constant repetition.” Or perhaps he’s laughing his butt off because all you suckers bought a book that took him about 30 minutes to write and are calling it a masterpiece.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. People RAVED about this book. I mean, it won the Pullitzer Prize. But you know what? It just isn’t that good. To quote me, “The main character and narrator (Theo Decker) is neither interesting nor sympathetic. Apart from the very beginning where you feel bad for him because of his family situation, he really turns out to be a pretty terrible person, but he’s not even an interesting terrible person. I don’t think all the characters in good literature need to be likeable. But they do have to make me care what happens to them. I did not care about him. Some of the secondary characters, on the other hand, were fascinating. At the end of the book Theo goes into this long tangent where he philosophizes on life in a way that I found really unsatisfying. He ends up saying essentially that life is really difficult and sucky and meaningless but it’s all we have so we should maybe try to find some joy in it. And I just didn’t understand how that was even logical. If life is sucky and meaningless, what possible motivation is there to try to be a good person and find joy? I was pretty frustrated at the end of the book – dissatisfied with both the story itself and the author’s conclusions on life. And it was a lot of pages to read to feel that disappointed.”
Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I’ve only made it through two and half of these. And I started reading them 3 years ago…Even before the TV series came out (which I think I’d like better as a guilty-pleasure show) lots of people I knew LOVED these books. I just can’t get into them. I don’t connect with the characters super well, the history doesn’t especially interest me, the time travel isn’t cleverly done, and the prose is just OK. I’m underwhelmed. And I have lots of other things I’d rather read than eight 800-page volumes of this.
Dishonorable mention: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Again, I didn’t actively hate this book, I just really disliked some parts of it. I saw the movie version of this and actually liked it much better. If you haven’t read it/seen it this is a SPOILER ALERT*** Here’s what I didn’t like. The book seemed to be trying to say something deeper about marriage and relationships and how a good marriage can go badly, badly wrong. But it epic-ly failed to do this because of the nature of the plot. When there are psychopaths or sociopaths involved you can no longer treat any of their relationships as an effective commentary on normal society. I also found the ending upsetting and deeply dissatisfying. I thought it worked so much better as a movie where you could appreciate it as entertainment without trying to extract this deep message about marriage and society.
Crazy Love by Francis Chan. If you’re super into “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” this book is for you. I read this book with my friends for Bible study and while I could agree with some of his points and the challenge to live a fully-committed life I found his tone and illustrations incredibly off-putting and problematic. To give you one example, he writes several times about his wife’s Grandma Clara holding her up as a picture of virtue and a lesson to us all. In one story the family goes to a play together and after the play Chan asks her, “Did you enjoy the play?” and she responds, “I was just sitting there the whole time thinking how ashamed I would be if Jesus were to come back right now and find me here watching a play.” And he was using this as an example of how devoted we should all be to Jesus. And I just thought…actually, I think if Jesus came back now he would love that you were spending your time investing in the family he gave you and loving them well by being there for their important moments –but maybe that’s just me? That’s just one example, but it gives you an idea of what the book was like. Not a fan.
What about you? Any books you love to hate?
Currently On Sale For Kindle
*As of February 13th. I use the US Amazon site. Prices may vary on other sites.
New on sale this week:
Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way , Shauna Niequist ($.99) This book of essays focuses on change and the bittersweet ways that we grow through challenges and difficulties.
Me Before You, JoJo Moyes ($2.99) Ambitionless twenty-six year old Louise loses her job and takes a temporary position as a caretaker for a 35 year old quadripalegic who challenges her to live life on a grander scale. This is a quick read, but not a particularly light one. Be warned that you’ll need Kleenex.
The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd ($3.99). There’s a reason this book is so popular. It’s great.
Still on sale from last week:
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green ($2.99) So good, but read with tissues.
The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd ($3.99) This was on many “best of the year” lists for 2014.
Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell ($4.99) Just finished this a few days ago. One of my new favorite young adult novels. So sweet.
An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, Barbara Brown Taylor ($3.09)
Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, Lauren Winner ($1.99) I just finished this book recently and it was one of those books that didn’t stand out as a whole, but there were certain bits that were very, very good.
Three Wishes, Liane Moriarty ($2.99)
The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss ($5.99) See above.
The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern ($4.99) I adore this book.
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