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The Green Dragon

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Edited: Dec 3, 2006, 1:20am Top

What book or books have you read that was so stupendously hideously bad horrible and stupid that you felt compelled to warn people away from it?

For me, the worst was a Piers Anthony book called Firefly.

Oh my gawd, what in the world ever posessed the man to write at length about pedophilia in explicit pornographic detail!


That book was so wrong on so many levels, that I never again picked up one of his books.

Truly sad!

Anyone else ever have the misfortune of reading that one?

Edited: Dec 3, 2006, 9:22am Top

In general, if a book is really awful I don't finish it. The worst thing I've started in the last 10 years was Wild Animus which was a library book club read for me. Our club was approached by the publisher, with a 'no lose' proposition. We were all given free copies of the book, and then the publisher shipped us a feast of different salmon dishes for our discussion group, as the book takes place mainly in Alaska. The salmon was fabulous. The book was not.

My only comment at the meeting was that the author should have left the letters 'im' out of the last word in the title. ;o)

Edit: This book was so bad, that not only did I not keep my copy... I chose to dump it in my recycle bin, rather than give it away.

Dec 3, 2006, 10:12am Top

Yikes, sounds like a real stinker, especially without the im...

Dec 3, 2006, 10:47am Top

Hee hee! ;o) It was indeed, even with the im...

Dec 3, 2006, 2:48pm Top

It was a piece of garbage written by a Twin Cities author that I read many years ago. Unicorn Riders of the Crystal Orb or some such. My sister knew someone who knew the author, and begged me to read it. So I did, and good gravy, it was bad.

A muddled mess of plot ideas, with all saved by the thawing out of the great Unicorn Riders.

Ever get hurt hard while playing sports, or in a car accident? Note how you don't remember the details?

For that reason, I don't remember a lot of this book.

Dec 3, 2006, 3:42pm Top

There aren't any books I've actually hated once I got out of school because if I dislike something, I don't finish it. Therefore, it never gets to the point of hatred.

Recent books I haven't finished:

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Stopped about 40 pages in. Not my style. May try again another time.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves
Finished about half. Got boringly repetitive.

Flowers in the Attic
I had fond rememberances of reading this as a teen. I should have left it there.

The Fatal Shore
I really wanted to finish this book and got about 2/3 through. But again, it got boringly repetitive.

Dec 3, 2006, 4:20pm Top

Unicorn Riders of the Crystal Orb

Hey, didn'y they do Panama Red...

Dec 4, 2006, 3:43am Top

Normally I like the writings of Neal Asher - OK, it's splattery and gory, but also it's weird in a ...well, weird, way ;-)
But The Voyage of The Sable Keech is just TOO much. I won't go as far as to say I hate it, but I just can't get around to finish it. I thought I had a high tolerance level as far as violence goes, but this is too much even to me.

Edited: Dec 4, 2006, 8:08am Top

I know alot of people said this was a great book (was one of the reasons I purchased it) but I would have to say the worst book I ever read was Blindness by Jose Saramago. I have never in my life read a book that refered into so much detail people having bowel movements. Disgusting book.

Dec 4, 2006, 7:32am Top

Argh. How unpleasant! :oS

Dec 4, 2006, 8:11am Top

Famous Last Words by Timothy Findley - it wasn't awful in the disgusting or stupid way, but it was mind-numbingly boring, and written in this really noticeable high-minded pretentious tone. I still don't know what drove me to finish it...

Dec 4, 2006, 9:36am Top

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. I've mentioned it elsewhere. I got all the way through because it was such an awful trainwreck, somehow I could not bring myself to stop. But I was completely disgusted afterward and only the fact that it was a library book saved it from getting burned.

Dec 4, 2006, 1:52pm Top

Re message 9: Just goes to show how different people have different takes on books ... I thought Blindness was outstanding and don't really remember it having an obsession w/bowel movements.

14ankhet First Message
Edited: Dec 4, 2006, 10:02pm Top

My two most hated books are probably Moby Dick and Anne Rice's first "Beauty" book. I couldn't get through the first one, so I don't know about the second two. Both Moby Dick and the Beauty book made me want to claw my eyes out.

Dec 4, 2006, 10:43pm Top

My two most hated books are probably Moby Dick and Anne Rice's first "Beauty" book. I couldn't get through the first one, so I don't know about the second two. Both Moby Dick and the Beauty book made me want to claw my eyes out.

Heee heeee, in that case you might enjoy "Defective Yeti" Matthew Baldwin's "live blogging" of his "attempt" to read Moby Dick over at http://www.defectiveyeti.com/ Very funny stuff!

Dec 5, 2006, 11:53am Top

I would have to agree with Moby Dick, you would think that with a Bachelors in Zoology I would have at least enjoyed the technical side of it, but nope.

Scarlet Letter is a thorn in my side as well.

Dec 6, 2006, 8:37pm Top

Some years ago, some group of people somewhere decided that they would publish a list of the world's greatest books (or something to that effect). Anyway, Ulysses was on top of the list. Being an English teacher type, I thought I should read this to be completely educated. Well, I don't know if anyone else out there has tried to read it, but if you have, you're a better person than I! I even bought the Cliff Notes! Talk about wanting to claw my eyes out!

Dec 6, 2006, 9:09pm Top

I absolutely agree with Wild Animus. I, too, received a free copy, (mine came via a deal the publisher had set up with BookCrossing), and I loathed it so much that I couldn't wait to get through the hundred pages I always give myself before abandoning a book. The characters were so horrid that I wanted to reach into the book and throttle them all.

Dec 7, 2006, 4:49pm Top

xicante, you made it farther in than I did! I think I bailed out somewhere between pages 40 and 50. Just thinking about it gives me the Willies. :oS

Dec 12, 2006, 10:57am Top

I decided a few years back I was going to read the "classics," and I am making decent progress with that goal, but I absolutely CANNOT get more than 50 pages into David Copperfield.

I have been seriously banging my head against the wall with this one. I wouldn't have tried to force myself past page 5 if it weren't a "classic" but I think I am going to have to give up anyway.

Dec 14, 2006, 12:00pm Top

Book I could not stand:
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace was so nihilistic and toe-curlingly awful that I had to tell everyone I knew, even the nonreaders, to STAY AWAY FROM IT. People of this message board, you have been warned.

Dec 15, 2006, 12:26pm Top

The bowel movement I remember most is Ulysses. Loved it, tho.

For total gross-out scenes, nothing beats the rhinoplasty in V.

Dec 15, 2006, 3:32pm Top

My most hated book was one I had to read for one for the Silver Birch Awards a while back, you read at least 5 of 10 childrens' books, then vote on your favourite... It was called King of the Castle by Kathy Stinson, (I cant find the touchstone for the book) and it was incredibly dull, had a poor conclusion and everything the main character did seemed illogical. It seems these are the sort of sappy, moral-improving books people think children should read, unfortunately.

Dec 15, 2006, 4:35pm Top

My most-hated book of recent vintage was The History of Love by Krauss. Talk about clawing one's eyes out! I hate what post-modernist writers do to stories that they want to call good literature. Don't play with my books, dammit.

Dec 15, 2006, 8:48pm Top

I had completely forgotten about Firefly....I took it out from the library about six months ago because I loved Piers Anthony's Xanth series in high school.

I didn't get past the first couple chapters.

Dec 15, 2006, 10:55pm Top

Since so many mention "classics"...War and Peace was so dull. I managed to slog about 3/4 of the way through it out of a sense of duty, but eventually gave up.

Dec 16, 2006, 9:21am Top

Me too! I still have a copy of it, and maybe one day I'll try it again, but it won't be anytime soon.

Dec 19, 2006, 11:14pm Top

There are two books that immediately pop into my mind, and I still, to this day, feel no remorse. The first was my encounter with Lord of the Flies in 10th grade English. I knew, at that moment, that I would be an academic, and that I would be a Lit Scholar. I read the first two chapters and handed the book back to my teacher, refusing to read the rest because it was the worst thing I had ever laid eyes on. Surprisingly, she gave me Shakespeare instead, and wouldn't you know it... that's what I do. *chuckles* The second was The English Patient. The film made a huge splash, won many awards, and it was all anyone spoke of for a while. I sat down and read it. I hated every minute of it, and finished the book only out of a sense of warped social responsibiity, and a desire to acquire cultural capital. Very bad idea.

Dec 20, 2006, 12:23am Top

I truly HATE both Candide by Voltaire and Billy Budd by Melville. I had to read both in high school and it was excruciating.
I do tend to like "classic" literature but those are both excellent examples of all that can be wrong with it. Sigh.

30creads First Message
Dec 20, 2006, 7:34am Top

I can't believe Piers wrote a book like that... I read Firefly because I was a big fan of the xanth series. My thirteen year old head (at the time) was horrified and a tad turned on. I think that's around when I stopped reading Anthony too. When thinking about it now it is interesting to me that a man would be able to publish something like that in the guise of fiction while pedophiles are probably passing the book around like a bible. So many young people are fans of his other books too. It's like a creepy lure.

Dec 21, 2006, 5:39am Top

The book that really stands out for me was The Ill-Made Mute by Cecilia Dart-Thornton. The prose was so purple it flouresced. I got about 150 pages in and gave up when I started to want to claw my eyes out.

Problem was, it sounded good on the jacket and the sequels also sounded interesting. Two years on and it still stands out as the book that I just couldn't stand to finish.

Dec 31, 2006, 12:18pm Top

I had to read Margaret Lawrence's The Stone Angel in High School English. Hated it. Basically, it's a old woman sitting around reminising about her life and the bad choices she made.

Unfortunately, my English teacher loved it, and every question on the Mid term had to do with it in some way. Nevermind the fact that we'd also read Macbeth and the The Odyssey by that point in the year. I took one look at that mid term and knew I was going to do poorly on it. Of course none of the questions about the book on the midterm were things we had actually discussed in class.


Dec 31, 2006, 4:00pm Top

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

I took this book on holiday last year as it has some good reviews and "cult" status along with three others unfortunately since I hated this book and didn't get more than 50 pages in I had hardly anything left to read in the second week.

I resent it twice as much as I ended up reading my guidebook to Greece on the beach :@(

PS I hated it because it was far too banal, and after 50 pages of text that was very compressed and hugely boring I simply couldn't go on...............

Edited: Dec 31, 2006, 8:25pm Top

I can't think of any books that I warn people against as in "don't read that, it stinks", but I do warn people in other ways. I'll say "I don't like that author's style" when Mercedes Lackey or Anne McCaffrey are mentioned, as well as "I love most of her books, but be warned, all her heroines are Mary Sues" of Tamora Pierce.

Weeellll...there are a few books that I may warn people away from, depending on the situation.

I read half of a book called LINT by Steve Aylett and...it's one of the few books I've started and never finished, I just couldn't read it, so if anyone asked me about it, I'd be blunt about exactly what I didn't like (it was so over the top...ok, it was supposed to be over the top, it is a fictional biography of a fictional SF author, but it was a very short book, and it was so over the top that I was bored by how over the top it was after the first two chapters!).

And I tend to tell people exactly what they're getting into whenever I see someone suggesting George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. I think it's only fair that people realize the rape, incest, and gore they're about to subject themselves to (no, I don't give spoilers or anything, just a friendly warning that it is has graphic content). I once saw someone include it in a comment on a livejournal post asking for suggestions for a teenage boy, 15ish or something. In my opinion, totally inappropriate.

Dec 31, 2006, 8:36pm Top

My award goes to Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell. A series can trend downhill, but here the author pulled off the coup of teleporting her Kay Scarpetta series directly to rock-bottom!

Jan 3, 2007, 4:14pm Top

While I will agree to the terrible place Blow Fly holds on this list, for me the ultimate in terrible lit will always be Faulkner's Absalom Absalom. I was assigned the book in inth grade and absolutely loathed it. Finally bought the Cliff's Notes to do the work and pitched the book! Gues I should probably go back and try again...assuming I'm at least a little more mature now! lol

Jan 17, 2007, 9:46am Top


YES! I hate Billy Budd too!


Jan 17, 2007, 10:24am Top

#34 blue - what have you got against Anne? Whilst I haven't read all of her work I do tend to enjoy, and re-read all those that I do have. Crystal being perhaps my favourite.

Jan 17, 2007, 4:50pm Top

I like most classics, simply try to put myself in that time and skim if necessary, but I can sure understand why some people don't. I do have to be in the right mood.

My most hated book was Charles Dickens and the Detective, NOT what the touchstones called up. It had such an innocent facade and looked as if it would be quite fun, as you read, not only did the author mis-use his words and repetitively at that, but he delved further and further into pornography. Blah. I threw it away.

Neil Stephenson's Quicksilver affected me the same way. What angered me about that is, I was totally into the story, loving his writing style, then he just took it too far for me to enjoy. Didn't finish and returned to library. I have a very vivid imagination and like to do that kind of thinking on my own (or not) if I choose. Love the forties movies...fade to black or close the door. I still wish Mr. Stephenson would put out a PG-13 version, I really don't think it would hurt his story.

Jan 17, 2007, 6:59pm Top

38 reading_fox

I don't have anything against her personally :) Her writing style irritates me. It grates. I haven't read any of her books in a while, or I might be able to be more specific. I was particularly thinking about the fantasy(ish) Pern books, though I read a couple of the Crystal books and had the same problem.

Jan 18, 2007, 2:27am Top

#39, MrsLee - Yes, Stephenson would win a lot by taking out some of his sex scenes... or should I call them descriptions? I love his style, and I enjoy taking part of his ideas - even when I don't share them - and as a consequence I own most of his books. But I've learnt to skim parts of it.
As these things go Quicksilver was not the worst - I still give that distinction to Cryptonomicon with it's lengthy analyzis of... well, what some religions puts as one of the ultimate sins, staged in a cryptographic setting... plus some wierd furniture stuff.
I still enjoy the books, and have reread them a couple of times. If you can get yourself to skip a couple of pages (nothing happens in there that do anything to the basic story, anyway) the total erading experience is very rewarding.

I suspect that the author has some hang up on these things, and maybe his editor knows and let him continue out of some therapeutic reason?
Actually, from my view, a lot of stuff that comes out of the north american culture seems to have these problems, with both authors and musicians and others repeatedly overusing sexual references...

Jan 18, 2007, 5:01am Top

Thanks Busifer, I may try him again, just the problem of so many books, so little time, and his are really big books!

I agree with your other analysis too. Maybe something to do with proving there is the freedom to do so or something.

Edited: Jan 18, 2007, 5:53am Top

The Redemption of Althalus was absolutely awful. i've read some of david eddings' other stuff and have liked what i've read, but this was just terrible.

the characters all have this same stupid sarcastic "witty" b-grade sci-fi movie sense of humour. it is such a long winding piece of nonsense of a story. and childish! his characters constantly giggle when members of the party find another attractive! what!!?

and repetitive! i can't believe he actually has characters describe things that have earlier been described to them! the most shameless moment of repetition came when one character actually spent 5 pages retelling events that happened earlier in the book!! what?!!

i think it was written for people who are braindead.

Jan 18, 2007, 7:41am Top

>43 joe_chip: While I adore Eddings earlier stuff, with Redemption he started going down hill and I won't even touch his most recent series. Just yuck. I wonder if it has to do anything with age? I think he and his wife are in their 80s.

Edited: Jan 18, 2007, 8:46am Top

#44 - You have to wonder if he's writing it himself, then.

I used to love Thomas Tryon's books as a youngin', like Lady and Harvest Home. But the last few books he wrote before he passed away read like he'd hired some hack to write for him. :o(

Jan 18, 2007, 9:28am Top

I agree with the David Eddings comments. The Belgariad is charming... and for love of those characters, I kept on reading the later volumes. But honestly, I didn’t find them enjoyable, and if I had started with his later work, I never would have tried his earlier efforts.

Jan 30, 2007, 4:29pm Top

Well about 2 years ago I made a new year's resolution to finish all the books I started. First book I read after the new year was Atomised by Michel Houellebecq - complete rubbish from start to finish. Still, at leat now I know if I don't like a book half way through just to give up - there are just too many good books out there to waste my time on this stuff.

48WendyVermeulen First Message
Jan 30, 2007, 4:57pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jan 30, 2007, 5:25pm Top

I didn't like (still don't like) Amsterdam by Ian MacEwan. Read it and didn't like it; a friend recommended it a few years later, so I thought I'd try it again. Some people learn from experience, but then there's me..........

Mar 31, 2008, 10:15am Top

The Inheritors by William Golding... I loved The Lord of Flies, when I was 14, so I decided some years later to read sg. else from Golding. I don't remember anything of the book... Maybe I was too young? Not clever enough? Who knows.. But I don't think so.

Mar 31, 2008, 10:53am Top

A couple spring to mind:One that might be controversial is Rebecca - I just couldn't read it, I enjoyed Jamaica Inn but...
Authorwise its Christine Feehan whose Dark .... novels all appear to have the same plot and all have the same sex-scenes which are really not my style

Mar 31, 2008, 11:04am Top

A few books that I read in various stages of school have really turned me off. Like The Bluest Eye, for starters.

Mar 31, 2008, 12:55pm Top

I hated Running With Scissors and I might be adding my current book club read to it if it doesn't get better, Snow by Orhan Pamuk.

Mar 31, 2008, 1:44pm Top

Back when I actively running a reviewing blog, I started getting emails from a "publicist" who offered me free copies of some books. I agreed to take two, and I regretted it. Both books were so bad that the only reason they got published was because one author went with a Lulu-like publication service and the other was unfortunate enough to be snatched up by a scam publisher. One of the books was called The Black Tea Experiments and the other was called something like Quest of the Sealbearers or something(I never even managed to finish two pages of that one).

Mar 31, 2008, 2:30pm Top

I'll have to second The Bluest Eye. Terrible.

Edited: Mar 31, 2008, 3:35pm Top

I absolutely LOATHED Rabbit, Run, by John Updike when I had to read it in college. I wasn't the type to speak up, but I really spoke up about that one.

The sad thing is, I think I ended up marrying Rabbit. :-(

ETA: It was the subject matter as well as the character. I have no idea whether the writing was any good. :-D

Mar 31, 2008, 3:35pm Top

Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz is something I could live without....

Edited: Apr 1, 2008, 8:18am Top

The Great Gatsby. Read it in high school, and really didn't like it. Just seemed pointless.

Oh, and The Rising by Brian Keene. The worst zombie fiction ever written, hands down. I burned it when I was finished.

Mar 31, 2008, 4:12pm Top

Mill on the Floss by George Eliot & Animal Farm by George Orwell both read in high school, which was terrible because it soured me on those authors that are looked upon as classic authors. It'll be a while before I read anything by them, if ever.

Mar 31, 2008, 5:02pm Top

There we go. I knew reading through this someone would mention that. The only book I've stopped reading.

Mar 31, 2008, 9:27pm Top

Anil's Ghost: This one needs the Ghostbusters to dispose of it with a proton pack. What a load of bollocks (remember, this word simply means "nonsense", it's not a swear word).

Vapor: Vapid is right on the money as a description. Unnecessary torture scene, which, since I don't like recent horror movies, made me cringe with shock, not of the good kind either. Also, it's a story about two people, a man who kidnaps and imprisons a woman in his house, and then the woman kidnaps HIM and then they fall in love but it's not even funny it's just pathological and ewww they have no shame and do it in public for kicks and they abuse science to float like clouds and GAAAAH!

Mar 31, 2008, 10:10pm Top

Without any hesitation: Tess of the d'Ubervilles and it was for class, so I had to read the whole thing. It was definitely one of those moments, when I finished it, where I wanted to throw the book across the room.

Mar 31, 2008, 10:27pm Top

#31 Thank you for mentioning Cecilia Dart-Thornton. My friend loves her books and won't hear a word against them. I however cannot stand her writing style. I read all 3 books in her first trilogy. The story and mythology was really interesting, but the prose was so purple it was ultraviolet.

As for my most hated book, it would probably have to be Schooling by Heather McGowan. I'm currently working my way through the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list and this was on it. It sounded promising...a literary story of an American girl in a British boarding school. Oh how I wish I'd known what I was getting myself in for. I finished this book because I couldn't tick it off unless I had. The whole thing is written in a sort of stream of consciousness which involves the main character day-dreaming in class and every few words or so a section of what the teacher is saying will drift in. There's no indication when that happens. Every sentence takes 3 times as long to read as normal because you spend your time trying to break it up into her thoughts and other people's words. It's extremely pretentious, tiring, and rather dull. But I've read it and I never have to read it again!

Apr 1, 2008, 2:22am Top

#63 Dream I have read Cecelia Dart-Thornton Bitterbynde Trilogy twice and loved it all. I loved the wordy descriptions of things but if I was in a hurry it was easy to skim those bits.

Just goes to show how subjective critiquing (?) a book can be!

I actually can't recall reading a book that I didn't like....I just liked some a lot less than others... ;0)

Apr 1, 2008, 4:11am Top

I know I've mentioned various books in other threads, such as Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, which I hated so much I threw it into the trash.

But I've just remembered another one, Hollywood by Charles Bukowski--at least, I think that was it--I was supposed to be reviewing the book for Masterplots and I turned it in and asked that it be stricken from the list, I hated it so much. The very first scene, as I recall, described the main character's masturbation in detail, and I thought it was disgusting.

Actually also hated Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire--it was the sensuality with which the drinking of blood was described that turned me off (a lot).

I feel compelled to protest that I'm not a prude and don't mind graphic sex in general . . .

Apr 1, 2008, 6:46am Top

God of Animals by Aryn Kyle . I hated it. I hated everything about it.
A more miserable read, a more miserable hopeless ugly story, is rare. Hated it .
Didn't like it either. This is the only time that I ever threw a book in the trash. I could not bring myself to pass it on for one thing and I honestly had to make it just go away.

Running With Scissors: a memoir by Augusten Burroughs.... was sent me by a friend.

Dreadful read, horrible story.. promptly gave it away after warning the friend that I gave it to, how bad it was .

Apr 1, 2008, 7:42am Top

It always amazes me to see people hating the books I've enjoyed!

Apr 1, 2008, 7:49am Top

#65 - I had erased the memory of Charles Bukowski from my brain. But I agree. Other disgusting details includes the popping (? not sure about the choice of words) of pimples (they make splash marks on the mirror...).
I will never again open one of his books.

Apr 1, 2008, 8:14am Top


Odd, when I had pimples as a teen I never got mirror splash when I popped them...

Apr 1, 2008, 8:16am Top

I'm quite sure Bukowski wasn't a teen when he popped pimples, and the description was on pair with the masturbation scene ejj mentioned above... yuk.

Apr 1, 2008, 1:36pm Top

My most hated book would probably be The Red Badge of Courage, which I had to read in the 7th grade and then again for English Lit in college. Even now, 20 years later when I think about it, I am filled with the same boredom & irritation that I was then.

David Eddings' last so called 'series' of books comes a close second. I say so called because they were all exactly the same book, only the location of the events changed. The plot, events, characters & even much the dialog was exactly the same and then, just to put the lid on the horribleness of it, it ended with it all having never happened. Unfortunately I cannot make reading it have never happened.

Apr 1, 2008, 1:39pm Top

Ironweed totally overrated.

Apr 1, 2008, 1:43pm Top

"The Garlic Ballads" by Mo Yan was the most miserably depressing, bleak and soul-destroying read of my life. It literally (sorry!) made me suicidal.

Apr 1, 2008, 1:59pm Top

Is it wrong that your last sentence made me laugh?

I was being somewhat delicate when I mentioned the masturbation scene in Bukowski's book--what turned me off so much was the description of the--er--product of the event splashing over the ceiling, or something like that--disgusting and probably thinly disguised bragging of sorts. Ewww.

Apr 1, 2008, 2:13pm Top

#74 - Yeah, same with the popped pimples...
I'm sorry, I just can't stand him.
Narrow-minded, self-centred, ostentatious about his yucky habits... blech.

Apr 1, 2008, 2:14pm Top

Some people apparently think scatology is "honest" or something. sheesh.

Apr 1, 2008, 2:35pm Top

I think I've said this before in other similar threads; Therese Desqueyroux by Francois Mauriac is still the book I have disliked the most but had to finish reading. It's a miserable, hopeless, depressing story and having to drag through it in French only made things worse.

Edited: Apr 2, 2008, 10:08pm Top

The one book I completely hated was Wetbones by John Shirley. Why I finished it still don't know, I think I was waiting for it to get better as it had received a good review by Clive Barker. It was just simply disgusting. Last I saw it I was using it as a chock to hold a window open.

Edited: Apr 2, 2008, 11:02pm Top

I don't usually remember the books I didn't enjoy unless I hear someone else mention them, at which point I go, "ahhh, THAT book" and try to decide if their taste in books is enough like mine to warn them off.

#31 archerygirl, I'm glad someone else felt that way about The Ill-made mute, I felt cheated it sounded like such a good story from the blurb but I couldn't get over the feeling that she had written it with a thesaurus open next to her keyboard going for the most elaborate word it offered. I mean I don't mind bits of that but it just really started to affect the pace.

The other one that springs to mind that I couldn't finish was Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey I just didn't see the point.

Apr 2, 2008, 11:57pm Top

I so agree with you labyrinth about Kushiel's Dart. It started off okay, but quickly went nowhere; I think I only read about half of it.

Apr 3, 2008, 12:15am Top

I loved Kushiel's Dart!

Apr 3, 2008, 12:27am Top

I am now reading the second in the Kushiel series, Kushiel's Chosen. It took me a while to get into Dart, but when i did...I guess it takes a certain type of person....right, LG?

But then a lot of things on here I really liked; Ulysses, Rabbit, Run, Animal Farm, The Great Gatsby, Interview with a Vampire....

I read The Painted Bird while on a six week backpack trip around Italy. I was in Sicily, and feeling really rootless, because I had not been in the States for almost a year, and the graphic dislocation of the characters really got to me. I finally gave it to someone...I think I traded Morgan's Passing or the The Accidental Tourist for it. The former I did not like, but mostly because I was too much like Morgan.

Apr 3, 2008, 1:00am Top

I don't know what you're talking about, Arctic ;-)

Dart was the best of them, imho.

Apr 3, 2008, 1:20am Top

the dates on this thread make me wonder... what's the oldest currently active thread? and what's the longest stretch of time between posts (this one was dormant over a year)...?
not that any of that matters, maybe since baseball's back I get into stats/records mode...

Apr 3, 2008, 12:59pm Top

# 68 & 69--well so much for eating my lunch while reading this thread!! EWWW is all I can say for that.

Apr 5, 2008, 3:35am Top


Sometimes life is icky. But that doesn't mean you should write down the ickiest parts in graphic detail.

Edited: Apr 5, 2008, 4:12am Top


Anne McCaffrey? How can you not like The Dragon Lady herself? I'm just slightly horrified, it's like saying you don't believe in Santa Claus.

Apr 5, 2008, 5:27am Top

Anybody here with a taste for statistics? JPB? Drneutron? Skimming through this thread and the TBR list from hell, I'm interested by the number of comments along the lines of 'we had to read x in school and I have hated the author ever since'. I'd be curious to know (but not so curious as to do the work myself) how far wrong my guess of almost half the posts being along these lines is. And that raises the second flock of questions: why? and how do you teach mother-tongue lit (because I know the same is true in Afrikaans, and believe it to be so for all languages) so that kids aren't put off for life?

BTW -- This is one of several reasons why I refused an invitation to go to Rochester (Kent) while based at Kew: The lady made the fatal error of saying "It's so Dickensian".

Apr 5, 2008, 6:51am Top

87 TheOneTree

Very easily! I don't like her writing style. Be horrified all you like :)

Apr 5, 2008, 7:06am Top

I read The Theory of Relativity by Jacqueline Mitchard and hated every word. It should have been gripping, a couple are killed in a car crash and their families fight for the custody of their daughter but every single word grated on me, especially the name of the little girl Keefer (or as they insisted on calling her Keefer-Katherine. Aaghh, I'm annoyed just thinking about it.)

Apr 5, 2008, 2:15pm Top

#88 hfglen: I sort of have a theory about why this happens, at least why something similar happens in my field: Students right out of the basic grammar class for Latin usually are pushed right into reading Cicero. We do this to students because Cicero is the poster boy for excellently-crafted Latin syntax and style. And yet. to really appreciate him, you need to have a lot more Latin experience under your belt than 2nd-year Latin students do. So, despite teachers' efforts to convince them otherwise, students leave the class absolutely hating Cicero, not because they actually dislike his writing, but because they just weren't ready for him yet. I wonder if this isn't the case in high school English courses as well. Teachers want Dickens and whoever else on the curriculum because they are masters of their craft and very important in the field, but students of that level just aren't ready to appreciate them yet. I don't know, just a guess.

Apr 5, 2008, 2:33pm Top

#91 scaifea: Inneresting, and I suspect there's more than a grain (more like a significant percentage) of truth there. I had Caesar, Cicero and Vergil at school -- couldn't handle Caesar's spin-doctoring or Vergil's covoluted syntax, but quite enjoyed Cicero's soap-box style. Only later (mostly at Kew, now almost 30 years ago) discovered that Thunberg's description of the Cape is better basic-Latin-for-beginners than Caesar -- especially South African beginners, who will recognise Thunberg's description under the little-boxes housing that now disfigures the Cape Flats. And if you ever encounter a 17th-century Jesuit called Giovanni Battista Ferrari, his gardening books include some tales of Flora that are even more florid soap-box oratory than Cicero; and Ovid has juicier stories (Metamorphoses, not Ars amatoria!) than Vergil IMHO.

Apr 5, 2008, 3:01pm Top

hfglen: I feel similarly about Vergil as I do about Cicero - we teach him too early because we feel we need to, since he's so influential and important (and I love both Vergil and Cicero). Ovid is nice because he's not a difficult, grammar-wise, as Vergil, and you're right that his stories are a tad racier too!

Apr 5, 2008, 3:47pm Top

hfglen & scaifea - You have hit a hot button for me (not the Latin, that's all Greek to me ;), I think that the school system focuses on cramming everything worthwhile into the little heads while they have a chance at them, rather than encouraging and beguiling the little heads to enjoy learning and discovering. This is not just a school system ideology, but it transfers to teachers and parents as well. Teaching my own, the temptation is strong, the creativity required to beguile is exhausting, and the fear that one will forget to teach something and send the children into the world unprepared is sometimes overwhelming. Just my opinion. It has made me examine carefully what I force my children to learn and what I offer to them to taste, as it were.

Apr 5, 2008, 3:51pm Top

I agree with all you say. So, what else are we saying between the words here? I'm thinking of something that would have caused my school Latin teacher to have kittens on the spot. Namely, None of the worthies that get taught to kids who don't know any better (and I include Dickens and others in this) are actually saying anything the students can relate to, even when you've decoded the grammar. This may be why the passages in the Kew class were so much more enjoyable (even the execrable pseudo-latin of C.F.P. von Martius, who wrote a history of the Munich botanical garden in 1830-something in Latin words and German grammar) -- we chose them ourselves, and could therefore guarantee that each one would cause the lights to come on and somebody to say something to the effect of 'hey I know what this guy's talking about!'. I don't recall ever getting that kind of lightbulb moment from any school literature.

Apr 5, 2008, 10:30pm Top

I don't even think that would help. Most of the authors chosen for in-class reading around here are, in fact, chosen for readability, approachability, etc. My students tell me that they will hate To Kill a Mockingbird 'til their dying day because, "We HAD to read it. I don't like reading what I HAVE to read."

Apr 5, 2008, 11:06pm Top

But are these students who are otherwise readers? I mean, a lot of kids don't want to read anything, anytime (except maybe text messages), so it wouldn't matter what was selected.

Personally, I loved Tale of Two Cities both times I was made to read it (8th grade and 10th grade, two different schools). Other than Shakespeare, I don't remember much else--The Red Badge of Courage, I think, and I was sort of so-so about that.

Apr 6, 2008, 12:50am Top

Along with a couple of others on the list I would agree with both the Ill-made Mute and the Kushiel series.

My problem with the Mute books (and I struggled to read all 3 to give full judgement) was not just the appallingly purple prose, but also how at the end of the first book the ugly duckling becomes the swan, and then there are all the name changes and so on. Its a shame cos I liked the world and the concepts.

Kushiel books also suffered from purple prose, but were so contrived and pretentious (and obvious) that I gave up after about 50 pages. I tried her BaneWreaker book again to see if any improvement but no.

These two would be my most disliked, but surprisingly they both have a significant fan club!

Apr 6, 2008, 6:14am Top

I will second a vote for Candide a one of my most hated. Also 1984 by Orwell, A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich by Solzenitsyn was boring and pointless, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley I couldn't handle the depressingly long winded descriptions and plain bad storytelling (I like the movie with Kenneth Branaugh though :) also the witch of blackbird pond but I think this is because I had to read it in an upper level reading group in class while the rest of my class got to read Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh which I really wanted to read at the time

One thing that I have run into recently: I just finished reading Streams of Silver by Salvatore and realized that he has become a much better writer since he wrote the Icewind Dale trilogy. The series I started with was written more recently and was quite good now I'm into the older stuff and have to keep reading to continue a very good story but I'm afraid I'm going to have to put up with bad writing and typos while he learns how to write. he should really go back and do a rewrite like Ray Feist did with his Magician books.

Apr 15, 2008, 12:03pm Top

Pretty much everything that Terry Goodkind wrote the first couple of books in Sword of Truth. They just got worse and worse, until, despite being invested in the series, The Naked Empire flew from my hand into the trash can, and I stopped the insanity. The same characters doing the same thing in a different setting for the eighth time, and preaching the same self-reliant, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps BS that became more and more prevalent with each succeeding book. And the bad guys were so stereotypically evil (they practically twirled a moustache on every other page), that it was....

Sorry, I am ranting. Anyway, the books are bad. Period.

Apr 15, 2008, 12:23pm Top

Any book with a bunch of fantasy-ish or Russian names is an immediate turn off. So much for War and Peace. So much for most science fiction.

A book that I finished and HATED HATED HATED was Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams. A cousin bought it for me for Christmas, saying it was the next Harry Potter. I love Harry Potter, but this book was two-dimensional creepy drek. (Tell us what you really think, Karen!)

Not as badly as Tunnels, but close, was Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson for my bookclub. 460 pages of strangeness punctuated by about 30 pages of interesting stuff about viruses, religion, and archaeology. Didn't care at all what happened to any of the characters, except perhaps Y.T.'s mom.

I almost always put books down when they bore/irritate me, but this year I've vowed to read everything I start (mostly for the 888 challenge). It makes me much more careful about what I'm reading, that's for sure.

Apr 18, 2008, 5:27am Top

I was subjected to 'Catcher in the Rye' at high school. Holden Caulfield: truly repellent character. And this was supposed to give us insight to ourselves as teenagers? More like insight into how jaded some English teachers had got!

Apr 18, 2008, 6:00am Top

#102 The year ahead of me at school had it as "a great treat". Interclass scuttlebut suggested that avoiding it like the plague was a good option, which I've done ever since.

Apr 22, 2008, 3:25pm Top

I will probably get blackballed for this but Dante's Divine Comedy makes me cry - with frustration. How the kids can study it here in highschool is beyond me. Most of them admit they can't stand it either.

Apr 22, 2008, 3:29pm Top

Depends on the translation. Dorothy Sayers's is manageable (but probably not in class), but I haven't seen any others that are even remotely readable.

Edited: Jun 3, 2008, 6:56am Top

I intended on reading The Divine Comedy... I guess I have to rethink it now...

May 28, 2008, 1:04pm Top

The only book I never finished because I couldn't stand it was The Horse Whisperer. I fell asleep during the movie, too. Awful.

May 28, 2008, 2:48pm Top

Two words: Walden's Pond. I didn't even have to read the whole book, and I could have trashed the thing afterward.

And the Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass. I finished it because I just kept waiting for it to get good. And it didn't.

Edited: May 28, 2008, 3:19pm Top

Alice Hoffman's Here on Earth was absolutely horrible.

May 28, 2008, 3:24pm Top

106: *gasp* Please give the Divine Comedy a try! Try the Anthony Esolen translation.

May 28, 2008, 3:38pm Top

Emerson's Essays are fast becoming one of my worst books ever. I'm having a terrible time getting through it.

May 28, 2008, 3:39pm Top

I seriously despised The Stone Angel by Margaret Lawrence. I was forced to read it in highschool and could find nothing in common with the main character. Soooo tedious.

May 28, 2008, 5:20pm Top

If I never read another book by Jane Austen, it'll be too soon. I was supposed to read Emma for A-levels at school, and was just incredibly annoyed by these silly little girls. I guess that might be a mildly controversial opinion.

The book I didn't get on with during my degree was The Portrait of a Lady. I struggled through 20 pages and thought that, frankly, life's too short.

May 28, 2008, 5:25pm Top

Message 113: Grammath

The movie Portrait of a Lady is dreadful as well

May 28, 2008, 5:43pm Top

Grammath-- you might give another Austen a try before you give up on her completely, maybe Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. I really enjoyed all her books EXCEPT Emma, because I found the characters in it so annoying.

It's certainly not the worst written book I've ever read (lots of bad romance novels fill that spot,) but I never want to read Lord of the Flies again. Ugh.

May 28, 2008, 8:50pm Top

I thought half the point to Emma was that the characters were so annoying. I read it when I had little else to read and spent ages fuming at all the characters. I was thoroughly relieved when I was told they were deliberately annoying, and were probably designed to show the horrid things that meddling can do. Really, only Mr Knightley came out of that novel unscathed.

May 28, 2008, 10:14pm Top

In college, in a women's studies (sociology? can't remember) class, we had to read Women's Ways of Knowing and I HATED it. Probably didn't completely understand it, since I was a biology major, not a humanities major. But the teacher LOVED it and asked us to relate everything else we read during the quarter back to the book's classification system. Still, we read some other wonderful books in that class, including Edith Wharton's House of Mirth and a wonderful non-fiction read For Her Own Good about medical misogyny.

I also hated Master Butcher's Singing Club by Louise Erdrich. This was apparently my first exposure to so-called literary fiction. It was horribly boring, made all the worse by the fact that the subject matter could have been terrific!

May 28, 2008, 10:30pm Top

Yeah, of all the Austen books I'm planning to read (which is all of them), the only one I'm not looking forward to is Emma.

May 29, 2008, 1:50am Top

Wow, I completely enjoyed Emma (I mean, as a character, she does grow/learn some things). I thought Mansfield Park was much more difficult in terms of the characters--the "good" characters came across as such prigs.

May 29, 2008, 4:01am Top

I remember hating a John Steinbeck book when I was a teenager (I can't remember which one exactly (Red Pony?), I have not been able to read any of his since.

I loved Jaran by Kate Elliot (in a total escapism type of way), but have never gotten into any of her other books

I finally tried catcher in the rye this year and didn't enjoy it, I plowed through moby dick a few years ago - sheer grim determination got my through, and like mrgroomism rather enjoyed Defective Yeti plow his way through.

May 30, 2008, 6:50am Top

I am presently 3/4 through Kate Elliott's "Spirit Gate" and find it completely enthralling. Otherwise I 'm amused by the number of contributors to this thread who persist in reading books they're going to hate; sort of Mary Whitehouse Complex? Although I will admit that while I have some Piers Anthony books in my library that I enjoyed (albeit many years ago), I'm glad I didn't pick up the first book mentioned as I would probably have ripped it in two which may not have gone down to well if I'd been in a bookshop or library!

May 30, 2008, 7:29am Top

Nav7 I never finished the Steinbeck or any other the Kate Elliot, but for some reason 'classics' I feel the need to complete... I think it is because I am convinced that there is some reason they are classic.

May 30, 2008, 12:00pm Top


I'm afraid my pride is unlikely to let me get over my prejudice against Austen.

I guess many people have had the experience of being taught various books in school or college that result in them developing a lifelong dislike of the author. I don't envy my English teacher having to try to get a room of 16 year old boys enthusiastic about Emma, who certainly aren't its target audience, but he didn't do a very good job.

May 31, 2008, 12:24am Top

I don't remember the title, but the only book I've tried and actively hated was by K. W. Jeter. I got about 5 pages into it before stopping. It was violent cyberpunk dystopia, a cynical pastiche of William Gibson, William S. Burroughs, and Philip K. Dick. I admire those authors, but Jeter's writing approached parody, did it poorly, and was clearly pandering to some imagined market of readers.

I'm sure there are plenty of other books I would loathe, but I'm likely to judge them by their genres or covers and not pick them up in the first place (e.g., Thomas Harris).

I've stopped reading other books for other reasons, but none so strongly felt.

I got about 50 pages into Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space and realized that I didn't care about the characters or find their motivations believable.

I got a few paragraphs into some Barbara Hambly dragon fantasy a friend lent me, and knew I just wouldn't get the enjoyment out of that approach to fantasy that I would have as a teenager.

So many books, so little time! I get to be choosy.

Jun 1, 2008, 10:29am Top

Heart of Darkness. It was for a high school English class, but on a unit where we had a choice (from a set list of books). I thought 'Oh, it's only about 100 pages, this will be easy to get through.' I got 3 pages into it, and had to keep reading those 3 pages over and over and over again before I gave up. My essay for that unit ended up being more or less a paraphrase of a Chinua Achebe essay on it (Or rather, I "happened" to choose the same topic for my essay as Achebe, and quoted liberally from him).

As for teachers assigning books students aren't ready for, I don't think that's the entire problem. The main problem, IMHO, is that they're not taught in an age- or skill-appropriate way. In my elementary school, they had us reading abridged Shakespeare starting in 3rd grade, but with a LOT of hand-holding. We read them out loud in class and the teacher would go over each scene with a fine-toothed comb, not to analyze it to death, but just to make sure we understood what was going on, and supplying us with any historical facts we needed. Far too often in English classes you jump straight into analysis without the teacher even asking you if you understand it. No one wants to mention that they don't because they're afraid of looking stupid, but it's ridiculous to make students think that when they're dealing with texts from a different era or a different culture: of course they're not going to understand it instinctively.

Jun 3, 2008, 7:05am Top

I remember reading Heart of Darkness... or rather the way I tried to go through it...

Jun 3, 2008, 4:58pm Top

I really enjoy Conrad, but I can see that not everyone would. It's pretty dense stuff, and you have to be in the mood for it.

Jun 3, 2008, 9:21pm Top

Heart of Darkness is actually one of my absolute favorite novels. However, Nostromo is definitely on my most hated list. Wow, setting up a story and giving background is one thing, but Conrad went more than a little overboard. It felt like I was reading an encyclopedia written with the intent to bore.

Other honorable mentions to the Hate List:
House of Sand and Fog
The Sound and the Fury

Jun 4, 2008, 1:40pm Top

The Comfort of Strangers by Ian Mcewan is, I think, the nastiest book I've ever read. Had to finish it, because it was a book club choice. I probably would have anyway,as it's certainly well written, clever and memorable, but the subject is so twisted and unpleasant that I got rid of it as soon as I could.

Jun 4, 2008, 3:04pm Top

"got rid of it as soon as I could" -- love it!

some books are so bad we're afraid they may contaminate the others on the shelf... plus it's like having a picture of an ex-wife in the house, who wants to constantly be reminded of all the bad stuff?

Jun 4, 2008, 3:10pm Top

About the only time I ever threw an undamaged book away was Thomas Harris' Red Dragon. I thought it was evil and wouldn't inflict it on anyone else.

Jun 4, 2008, 4:46pm Top

Oddly, when I was in high school, I absolutely detested The Catcher in the Rye and was pretty vocal about it. This made me a rarity at school, and I think this made me even more adamant about hating it.

Now, in my thirites, I love the book. Perhaps getting distance from high school helped a lot. Or just that opinions change.

Jun 5, 2008, 9:36am Top

I absolutely despised Lolita. It took me probably 6 months to read that book when it should have taken less than a week. I realize that the tangents contribute an important aspect of the main character, but holy COW are they long and pointless. The story itself is incredible and even disgustingly realistic... but even for all my morbid curiosity, that book bored me to pieces. I've recommended a 24 pack of mountain dew, 2 full pots of coffee and a bottle no-doze to those I know who have also attempted it.

Jun 5, 2008, 11:21pm Top

#123-I saw Apocolypse Now when it first came out & did not like the story but it was only years later that i found out that it was based (more or less) on Heart of Darkness. I decided to read that story to see if it gave me any sort of insight about the movie. Well, not exactly an insight but, rather a confirmation that whatever you call the story i still can't stand it & don't see any socially redeeming feature(s) in either version! 8^)

Jun 6, 2008, 8:40am Top

#131 I found Red Dragon somewhat confronting because I have a son with a cleft lip and palate but I've read many books about serial killers so I can't help wondering what made this particular book so much more evil than others in the same vein?

Jun 6, 2008, 11:41am Top


Have to admit it's been quite a few years and I have thankfully blocked out details--just remember the feeling of distaste and sort of shuddery ickiness I felt when I tossed the book and went to wash its residue off me . . . I dunno, maybe I haven't read that many books about serial killers and maybe others would have the same effect? (Not that any others have yet.)

Jun 7, 2008, 2:02am Top

#136 Thank you for the reply.............it's usually where children are involved that I find any story most difficult to read.........I still can't bring myself to read A Child Called It.

Jun 7, 2008, 5:34pm Top

#133 Oh, I absolutely LOVE Lolita! The writing is exquisite.

Dec 31, 2008, 8:36pm Top

Help with Famous last word by Timothy Findley

Can somebody that has read the famous last words by Timothy Findley please help me...i need help understanding the book
my Question is

What happened to Wallis and the Duke in the end of the novel? the only thing i could understand was that they were on the boat waiting for the submarine that has already been canceled and Wallis realizes that it was not going to show up-and the next thing i read is that they are on an island...i dont know where the island was and how they got there...the book says they lived there....how did they survive on the island(?).
and also where were they going to be heading had it been that the submarine showed up?...how will their running away help anybody?...who was the present king and queen as the duke(David) declined from being king? and who was his father..was his father Edward Allenby?

Help please

Dec 31, 2008, 8:58pm Top

Tryly awful works, I had to go and look at my star ratings and I have six off the top that I rated 1 star.

Author John Christopher and Beyond the Burning Lands, Sword of the Spirits and The Prince is Waiting falls into why did I spend the money, hoping in vain that by the end of the trilogy it would get better.

My worst ever, and I can get vehement about this is the poor writing and the blatant rip-off of anothers work, From Russia with Lust by David Bishop. That editors are too young to realize when characters are plagarized in a very poor imitation, and if they know what they are doing, then finding writers who are so far below the quality of the writer they steal from is a travesty.

And last was Sherwood Smith who generally does alright, Inda being great, but Senrid being horrid.

Dec 31, 2008, 9:07pm Top

>139 proudlycanadian:

I haven't read the book, but from your description it sounds as though it's based on the historical Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and I checked Amazon to be sure. You can find the answers to most of your questions if you check the article on "Edward VIII" on Wikipedia--or just google him, you'll find a lot of information.

Jan 6, 2009, 10:27pm Top


THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! I am so glad you said that. I'm not alone anymore. :) People look at me like I've grown another head when I express a similar opinion.
I haven't been able to make it though Anne McCaffrey's stuff either, though I've read a few of the books she co-wrote. The other writer mutes her style and makes it much more bearable.

Jan 6, 2009, 11:53pm Top

Terry Goodkind's first book made me physically ill the first time I tried to read it. I tend to like fantasy, but it was more graphic torture and sex than any other genre.

Jan 7, 2009, 12:55am Top

Wizard's First Rule was a book I also purchased, when it first came out in hardback. I regret it. One of my problems is when the hero seems to come to their role too pat. As I recall our hero was the brother of our villain. Now I have three brothers and i can't think of them trying to do away with me. If I remember correctly then, I can't relate to any family where the brothers would do that, so can't suspend my disbelief.

Not my most hated, but wish I hadn't wasted the money. Fortunately never wasted any more on Goodkind

Edited: Jan 7, 2009, 3:54pm Top

I too own a copy of Wizard's First Rule because my older son, who is an avid non-reader, absolutely devoured the entire series. I figured that if it made him want to read, it must be good. I was definitely wrong. I have no clue what he sees in the book. I keep making excuses as to why I'm not reading it anymore.

Jan 7, 2009, 4:15pm Top

I enjoyed Wizard's First Rule when I read it at about 16-17. I haven't reread it. I saw some of the television version (my friend's fiance *really* loves the books) and didn't think much of it. *shrugs*
I disagree mildly with ReaderMom's thought that it had more sex and torture than other books. Wizard's First Rule, as I remember is was much milder than some like Talyn by Holly Lisle, or the Blood trilogy by Ann Bishop. Maybe it's a subgenre of fantasy - not romantic fantasy as such, but more disturb-erotic fantasy.

Jan 7, 2009, 4:16pm Top

I can not stand Wuthering Heights! I received it as a b-day present when I was in grade school and couldn't make it through the book.

Freshman year of high school, I realized that the juniors had to read it. I spent the next 3 years dreading having to force myself to read the thing. Time did not make the experience more bearable.

Jan 7, 2009, 6:17pm Top

I agree with 146. I guess Goodkind was the first time I realized I needed to be aware of this subgenre and avoid it.

Jan 7, 2009, 9:02pm Top

Sounder nearly did me in. I ranted about that book for a whole week, it drove me so insane.

I also believe that Gone With the Wind and Moby Dick are two of the most highly overrated books in the world. It makes me wonder how some books earn the distinction of "classic".

Jan 7, 2009, 10:40pm Top

#149 - "It makes me wonder how some books earn the distinction of "classic".

I thought that was the "definition" of a classic...
"Classic: a book people praise but don't read." - Mark Twain

Jan 7, 2009, 11:25pm Top

That's great- and so totally true. It explains countless books... :)

Jan 8, 2009, 12:35am Top

And yet I loved Gone with the Wind; I read it first when I was eight or nine and have reread it quite a few times. I get a different perspective each time I read it, too--like the time when I finally got what Scarlett saw in Ashley and how she felt about him, even though he was so obviously wrong for her.

On the other hand, I can't count the number of posts I've read about people loving Jodi Picoult's books, which I hate with a passion. Or, say, Danielle Steel.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Jan 8, 2009, 12:39am Top

I'm in the pro-GWTW camp too. But like you say...

On the other hand, I've never been able to get very far in Moby Dick.

Mar 27, 2009, 12:35pm Top

(Candide) is fantastic!!!

Mar 27, 2009, 12:43pm Top

hi, the divine comedy is not for reading, it is for studying

Mar 27, 2009, 12:52pm Top

>155 aleksandar2:

I'm not sure I understand this distinction. How can you study it without first reading it?

Mar 30, 2009, 12:28am Top

I agree with you, SpicyCat (120) the Red Pony was quite depressing and I didn't even understand it! Good thing it was short!

MissWoodhouse1816 (149) too bad you didn't like Gone with the Wind . . . that's a lot of pages to dislike.

Mar 30, 2009, 12:30am Top

Oh yes, I also strongly disliked Twilight and its sequel. I know people are going to come after me for saying that, but it just didn't resonate well with me!

Mar 30, 2009, 1:35am Top

I have such a craptacular memory that I don't really remember which books I've hated over the years --and I'm sure there have been quite a few. It's all I can do to even remember the ones I have liked! (That's why I tend to re-read a lot of books I know I've liked, because for the most part I cannot remember the plot, so it's a joy to discover them again.)

That said, two really bad ones come to mind:
1) Candyland, by Evan Hunter/Ed McBain (both pen names for the same author, I remember vaguely that he wrote one half of the book under one pen name, and the other half under the second one.) I really can't remember why I hated it, only that it annoyed the hell out of me, so I didn't finish it.
2) Something by James Patterson. Can't remember the title, but I know it was one of the Alex Cross series. Awful book!

Oh wait, I just remembered another one I hated:
3) Shock, by Robin Cook. I only remember that I almost hurled the book across the room after a few pages because it was so irritating. The characters were so cartoony and plain annoying that I remember thinking "Nobody acts like that!"

This also includes many books I read in my teenage years, especially back when I started to read in English and would read anything and everything just for the sake of practicing the language. I know I liked some of them at that time, but I'm sure that I will never pick a book by those authors again in my lifetime: Robin Cook, Danielle Steele, Judith Krantz, Sidney Sheldon... Those are the ones I remember. I can't believe I ever read that garbage. Oh well, at least they helped me with my language skills. ;P

Edited: Mar 30, 2009, 2:05am Top

I also started Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and had to interupt my reading. It's not awful, and I might pick it up again later, but it's just soooooo long that I felt it wasn't grasping my attention. (I've found that now I cannot read for long stretches of time like I used to... sadly.)

I did like Haunted, precisely for being so revolting and shocking. Palahniuk always does that for me. He's sort of an acquired taste, I guess. I remember I read it during a beach trip. All my friends went down to the beach and I stayed alone in the house, sitting in the living room reading because I couldn't take my eyes off the book. Oh I did felt the impulse of throwing it against a wall, but I just couldn't. I had to keep on reading.

#15 Groo, thank YOU for that link! It's freakin' hilarious (the guy's blog, I mean, 'cause I can't find the part related to Moby Dick.)

Moby Dick falls under the category of "bought it because I need to read at least some of the classics," but I just can't find the motivation to actually get past the first two pages. Same goes for Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights and Death in Venice.

#28 Oh I loved Lord of the Flies! Granted, with my bad memory, I can't recall exactly why I loved it, but I know I did.

#35 YESSS!!! Exactly! I used to enjoy the Kay Scarpetta series, but Blowfly was just where Cornwell jumped the shark for me.

On the "had to read it for school" front:
1) Don Quijote. Yes, I admit it. I can't stand it. It's supposed to be one of the greatest books of all time in Spanish literature (it's like saying I hate Shakespeare, for heaven's sake!), but I've never been able to stomach it. I have a translator colleague from Argentina who swears he re-reads it at least once every year. Blech!
2) Ditto El Cantar del Mío Cid. It's an epic poem (sort of like Beowulf, if you will - I'm making comparisons between Spanish-language and English-language school curricula.) Argh! I wanted to take my eyes out! I remember we had a term paper due, and the night before a bunch of us went to the movie theater to see an old movie version filmed like in the 50s or something, with Sofia Loren, because we didn't want to finish reading the damn book. Fat lot of good it did us. We still flunked the exam. Good times.

Blasted touchstones keep pointing to the English translations of the last two.

Mar 30, 2009, 5:11am Top

Dear ejj1955,

You can't read The Divine Comedy, because it is impossible.
Dante lived really long time ago and he was real erudite. He used
his vast knowledge to incorporate it in his work. You have no chance
to understand what he was writing about. Therefore, this work needs
comments besides the verses to let the reader know what is it about.
Reading and lerning how to understand at the same time. That would be
studying. A character Doctor Luigi of a Croatian tv series from 1970s used
to read Dante every evening before sleeping. He probably needed entire life
to undertand him.

Mar 30, 2009, 11:09am Top

Aleksander: that could be said of nearly any work that was written a hundred years or more before our lifetimes. Needing notes to let me know who obscure politicians were, or that certain characters were personal friends of Dantes', doesn't make it any less readable.

Mar 30, 2009, 11:23am Top

I would have said that I have read the Divine Comedy; it's nice to know I accomplished at least one impossible thing in my life.

I'd expect any work of poetry to contain a lot of allusions and images, so someone like Ezra Pound or T.S. Eliot also needs some glosses to understand. With Dante, it helps to have some grounding in the medieval world generally and medieval Christianity in particular. Me, I loved the medieval history. If it weren't for Latin, I might be a (presumably unemployed) medievalist today.

Mar 30, 2009, 12:15pm Top

It also depends on which translation you read. Dorothy Sayers's is beautifully written and reads with a swing ... and the original rhyme scheme; and it has all the notes one needs. The Victorian translations I've seen are, as Aleksander says wholly unreadable IMHO.

Mar 30, 2009, 12:41pm Top

I have the Dorothy L. Sayer's version, but haven't read it yet, I read something else which was perfectly readable in my opinion, in fact, I got a lot of enjoyment out of it. My daughter says they are making a video game out of it, you have to travel through the inferno to rescue someone, or something like that.

Mar 30, 2009, 12:46pm Top

I vaguely remember reading La Divina Comedia in high school and sort of enjoying it... It was a translation into Spanish, but I can't remember who was the translator.

I know there's a couple of boxes full of books at my mom's that are waiting to be sorted by yours truly, and I sure hope that book is one of them.

Mar 30, 2009, 1:32pm Top

My hates are Butterfield 8 and Rama II. I barely finished BU8 (after putting it down for several months halfway through), and only got about 1/3 way through Rama II. Which was a shame since I loved Rendezvous With Rama and read that one in a day.
That's not including some that were so gawd-awful that I gave up before the first chapter, and mercifully no longer remember them.

Mar 30, 2009, 1:48pm Top

I'd have to say that I hated Eragon the most. I hated this book so much because of it blantant rip off of other stories (Star Wars being the biggest one I noticed). Plus the writing was horrible. I know the author was young when he wrote it and it really shows. Someone bought the 2nd book for me (no idea why). I held on to it for a long time, thinking that I might be curious enough to see if the writing improved, but I never picked it up, so I gave it away.

Mar 30, 2009, 2:57pm Top

I usually stop reading if I don't particularly like something. Some examples of recent years have been Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Animal Farm, and Cryptonomicon. I wanted to like all three of these, but just couldn't get into them. Might try again sometime later in life. An author I as a buddhist avoid strictly on principle is a despicable individual by the name of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. He is the founder of the New Kadampa Tradition, an anti-Dalai Lama, pro-China Tibetan Buddhist cult. How you can be a Tibetan Buddhist and be against His Holiness is a bit beyond me, but whatever.

Mar 30, 2009, 3:05pm Top

missmaddie- yes, it is unfortunate. That's not to say that I NEVER read through GWTW, I just have to rant and rave about the inanity of it when I do. On the other hand, I'm with you on Twilight- one more word about that series and I may scream!

...and last, but not least- welcome to GD!

Mar 30, 2009, 5:44pm Top

Oddly, I liked The Divine Comedy when I read it in college. We had to read the whole cycle-Inferno, Purgatory, Paradise. Of course, I like GWTW, Shakespeare, and Dickens, so I'm a bit odd.

There were two books in jr. high and high school that I actually threw in the trash. One was some sort of science-fiction and the other was supposed to be something about the life of Christ. Both were just an excuse for very explicit pornography.

I also loathe the Thomas Covenant books by Stephen R. Donaldson. I like the first one I read in college, but it just became more repetitive and depressing. I really cringe to see those anymore.

Mar 30, 2009, 6:05pm Top

>171 RitaFaye: Not that odd, or else I am too, I like all those. I'm reserving judgment on Donaldson's books; I liked The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through but haven't read the whole Covenant series.

Mar 30, 2009, 6:12pm Top

Also not a fan of Stephen R. Donaldson. The first of the Thomas Covenant books is the only fiction book I have ever thrown in the garbage, along with its two sequels which were unread. Also disliked The Polished Hoe by Austen Clarke, although it was beautifully written.

Edited: Mar 30, 2009, 10:53pm Top

I also have that "bad memory" thing going on, so I can re-read a book or series after a few years and it's all new again :)

I see a lot of mention of the Divine Comedy. I recently read Inferno and Escape from Hell which were somehow based on the first part of the Divine Comedy. I quite enjoyed those, they had that adventure style feel to them.

I will typically take a book and plow my way through it, but I recently came across Silver Wolf. I had to put down around page 100. I literally couldn't stomach it any longer. It so irritated me for about a week after I quit reading it.

In the aftermath, I'm certain I will never again read a book by Alice Borchardt.

edit: the inferno above is pointing to Dante, here is a link to the one I read

Mar 31, 2009, 5:42am Top

Reading of The Divine Comedy is officially deleted from the list of Missions Impossible.

Mar 31, 2009, 5:53am Top

I hated the most the books of my university professors which
I was supposed to study.

Mar 31, 2009, 9:55am Top

>175 aleksandar2: Dang, now I have to find some other mission to accomplish? (Oh, wait, the work I did in the last day might qualify.)

Mar 31, 2009, 2:32pm Top

Thanks for the recommendations (well, sort of) of the Larry Niven books. Those sound promising. I've just added them to my ever-growing humongous list of books/authors I'll probably check out sometime in the future...

Apr 3, 2009, 10:05pm Top

I'm actually reading another one of the larry niven jerry pournelle books, footfall.

These guys are pretty decent at writing adventurous fun novels.

Edited: Apr 3, 2009, 10:26pm Top

http://www.librarything.com/work/2573123/details/35603861 and Peace Like a River I flung 'em both.

re:179 Niven and Pournelle are generally pretty good. I'm currently struggling thru Oath of Fealty but the rest of their work is better.

Apr 4, 2009, 8:46am Top

Last book I gave up reading was Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian.

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 12:31pm Top

I don't generally "hate" books. I give a book 100 pages and if I'm not into by then, I'll put it down and walk away.

Umberto Eco'sThe Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana was the last one like that for me. I just couldn't get into sync with amnesia and the Spanish Civil War; I did get 150 pages into it.

I really don't like putting any book down. It just feels like I've let the author down.

I've gone back and reread a bunch of the books I HAD to read in school and have found that a number of the titles I couldn't stand back then, I appreciate today. It's possible that I simply have more life experience and can relate better, or that I've become more open minded. Then again, how much of disliking something has to do with the 'have to' factor?

Apr 4, 2009, 1:06pm Top

#182: Eco was traveling around with salmon, I could not understand, I quit the book.
When I was student I did not think there was a conspiracy whose aim was to present students stupid or boring books. Generally, the choice of books was good. Of course, everybody has its opinion and can ask why to read so many of this writer but nothing of another one who he/she likes better.
It does not mean, of course, that I read everything that I was supposed to read. That would be far too many books for a young brain.

Apr 4, 2009, 3:34pm Top

I loath The Old Curiosity Shop. Dickens has a habit of supplying "good", though quite unbelievable, female characters, which spoilt for me the otherwise wonderful Tale of two Cities. However, this time, he went too far. Every time little Nell was mentioned, I wanted to slap her. Pollyanna crossed with Goodytwoshoes, a heroine does not make.

Apr 4, 2009, 4:06pm Top

#184 - Are you my daughter? That was exactly her reaction, and she said it was dull to boot. :)

Apr 4, 2009, 4:12pm Top

Lol, no, but I'm quite willing to be adopted if your other children have such amazing good taste :) (I am 43 though, so I think the legalities may be a bit much :) )

Apr 4, 2009, 4:13pm Top

#184 Hey! who's been snooping in my mind?! My thoughts exactly, but I'd expand to include all Dickens and his characters of both genders -- think of the odious residents of the Christmas Carol, for starters!

Apr 4, 2009, 8:31pm Top

Feel I should just chime in with a little love for Charlie--I haven't read the Old Curiosity Shop, but I have read a lot of his other works and really enjoyed them. Sure, his secondary characters are often more interesting than his heroes/heroines, but his plots are nicely complicated and he ties everything up in the end.

Apr 5, 2009, 11:19am Top

I too have to say the Dickens is one of my favorites. I have read a great deal from

A Christmas Carol thru A Tale of Two Cities and the longer works like Dombey and Son or Nicholas Nickelby and find them all very good. The Pickwick Papers sets the tone for so much of his work, that I know what to expect with long plot twists of characters who ome back and impact the main characters. All wonderful vignettes.

Apr 5, 2009, 11:26am Top

A much beloved drama teacher in college used to give performances every Christmas of A Christmas Carol. I hear Doc Shiffler now when I read it. I will never be able to an unbiased opinion of that book. It is too wrapped in lovely memories.

Apr 5, 2009, 10:39pm Top

I was convinced that I disliked Dickens after trying, and failing to read Great Expectations twice. I had even tried to watch that Ethan Hawk movie that is based on the novel, but couldn't stand it either (although I'm not a fan on Ethan Hawk). This last Christmas though I read A Christmas Carol and I loved it. I was thinking that I should try reading some of his other books like The Pickwick Papers which I have been interested in since my first reading of Little Women. Up until recently Charles Dickens was on my "Most Hated Books" list, and I avoided him even if Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy loved him.

Apr 6, 2009, 9:32am Top

You watch David Lean for Dickens movies, not the Ethan Hawk movie. That was a modern adaptation. But a period piece is a much better reflection of the story.


Apr 16, 2009, 9:15pm Top

I hated The New Life by Orhan Pamuk. One of the few books ever that I could not bring myself to finish. Nothing happens. At all. Oh, except riding a bus while carrying a book and talking about carrying a book while riding a bus.

I also gave up on Elizabeth George's What Came Before He Shot Her. The most dismal, dialect ridden rot, 'innit!' ;-P

My poor daughter had to put up with hearing all my complaints when we read The Deadliest Monster by JF Baldwin, a non-fiction worldview text with the premise of all people being either a frankenstein monster or Mr.Hyde (Dr Jekyll and...). Thankfully time is erasing the memory of that one.

Apr 16, 2009, 9:43pm Top

In an adolescent lit. class in college, I had a professor who absolutely nit-picked and uber-analyzed a novel to death. It was A Separate Peace, and I've never been able to touch it since.

The man found deep significance in everything in that flippin' book. Not just the boys, or their names, or their appearances, but the initial letter in the first sentence. The way a chapter break happened half-way down a page. Surely it can't all mean something.

I think he was trying to teach by horrible example.

Apr 16, 2009, 11:19pm Top

Every "classic" I read in college lit class, I can barely remember. I remember reading Dickens, no idea which one. Walden made no impression at all. Read Catcher in the Rye in high school; remember nothing except there was supposed to be (according to the teacher) some kind of significance that Holden wore his cap backwards. What that significance is evades me. The Scarlet Letter made the budding feminist in me (it was 1978) want to pull the preacher's liver out and beat Hester about the head for protecting his reputation. I remember hate hate hating William Faulkner but don't remember why--because he was too long winded I think. Obviously American Literature was a total bust for me!

I did much better in Children's Lit class!

Apr 16, 2009, 11:57pm Top

>195 theexiledlibrarian: I had a completely different experience, I guess. I took a seminar in Dickens and read a lot of him, with Bleak House and Dombey and Son standing out in my memory as favorites. I also liked Faulkner--The Sound and the Fury. Weirdly, though, I still have never read The Scarlet Letter. Don't know how I escaped but it's on my list to read someday--not very high up, I have to admit.

Genre literature got very little attention back in the day (unless you count something like epics and sagas, that was a fun class!). I was thrilled to have a class in mysteries. Would really loved to have had a fantasy or sci fi class, though.

Apr 17, 2009, 10:05am Top

I know I'm going to be completely alone in this, but I really disliked The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. It's by far the least satisfying book I've read in the past couple of years. I liked how the main character's friends were obviously named out of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and that was really about it.

Apr 17, 2009, 10:16pm Top

I haven't seen anyone mention any Stephen King books but tle last three books of The Dark Tower series were terrible! I felt I had to read them just to see what happens. I loved the first four books. I vowed never to read anything by him ever again.

Apr 19, 2009, 3:47pm Top

Don't judge all King books by that series! I'm not a big fan of that series but I love King. Try The Shining or Duma Key before you give up on him completely.

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