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I can't believe I wasted my time on this con't...

Awful Lit.

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Feb 23, 2007, 9:53am Top

Feb 23, 2007, 10:45am Top

Oh, THANK YOU, Readafew! The original thread was getting a bit too unwieldy for my computer to handle.

Feb 24, 2007, 1:44am Top

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Edited: Feb 25, 2007, 10:44am Top

I just joined Library thing, and was amazed to see Satanic Verses show up on more hate blogs than praising blogs. It is a real challenege, I know. I had to read it for school, which is probably the only reason I got through it the first time. That's right, I went back and read it for fun - several times.

Doesn't anyone else find the spooky narrator unsettling? Are we not pulled in to Chamacha and Gibreel's problems, and wonder if some of them are our own? Isn't the playful language delightful? Is there any love out there for this amazing book?

If by chance anyone out there is on my side, you might be interested in The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Rushdie based certain major elements of his novel on this one. Also brilliant, a little more accessible, and just as weird.

Feb 25, 2007, 11:59am Top

#4: Hi, Jessica ~ I haven't read Satanic Verses yet, but your description of it makes me want to (try, anyway)!

Feb 25, 2007, 5:14pm Top

#4, I'm afraid I couldn't stomach the Satanic Verses at all. Gave up after the first chapter! Loved the Master and Margarita, though. If I had another 100 years to live, I would probably try again with Satanic Verses, but there are too many exciting books out there to go back to it.

Mar 6, 2007, 7:52pm Top

I really liked the Master and Margarita. It reminded me something of Catch 22. I don't know why, but it just did.

I'd like to add my agreement to those who disliked Dan Brown's books. I read Angels and Demons and the Da Vinci Code. He committed the worst sin in Angels and Demons by making my favorite character into the villan. The stories were entertaining enough, but it seemed like he was more interested in going off on the church than the plot. I found his obvious agenda really distracting and pretty annoying.

I'd also like to add one of my least favorites to the pile: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I know, I know, Joyce is supposed to be brilliant and all, but I HATED it. That "stream of conciousness" was a special kind of torture for me.

Mar 10, 2007, 12:05pm Top

Glad to return some favor to this book. There are a lot of books I know are great, but I just can't get through them. I just want to point out that that doesn't make them bad books, just hard. Take SV one chapter at a time. Don't worry about understanding everything. There is so much on every page. Just find the stuff that speaks to you, and as you go on, you might find it makes more sense.

Yeah, I have a hard time with stream of consiousness too. By the time you figure out what they are talking about, you have lost track of the last thing you figured out. Punctuation and grammar are our friends, even if grade school kids hate learning them.

Edited: Mar 12, 2007, 1:01am Top

Okay, so maybe it wasn't exactly "wasted," but I submit The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, as I didn't walk away from it with much. It just seemed like a Lifetime movie. Seemed nice while I read it, but looking back on it, it's "meh."

Awful seems a bit extreme, though.

The Old Man and the Sea was a thorough waste of my time, however.

10marchare5 First Message
Mar 12, 2007, 12:44pm Top

If you are not into "cutesy" don't waste your time
with Ann Perry English mystery cat..

Elizabeth Peters leaves out most of what's desired
in detective fictionand fills in the gap with her
heroine's glinting,sparkling,etc. green eyes. I did
however skip to the end to find out whoduit. I
didn't want to entirely waste my time.

Mar 14, 2007, 8:42am Top

#395 - I agree about Dune. Very overrated, I tried to read it a couple of times as a teenager/young man, but never got beyond about page 100. The film is awful as well.

Mar 14, 2007, 9:02am Top

Ayn Rand falls into the category of pseud. (perhaps I'm a bit late on this, but I have to pitch in here with how wicked she is.) You can't even dignify the trash she writes with the word 'philosophy'. Other writers who fall into this category are: Kalil Gibran, Paul Coelho, Mitch Ablom (I don't even care if I spell their names wrong) and all that Chicken Soup for the soul guff. These writers make me angry because they fool the simple minded into thinking they are serious, philosophical works of enquiry into the human condition. They are not. Their purpose is to make money. Sorry, just had to get that off my chest. Feeling better now :)

Mar 14, 2007, 10:18am Top

tomcatMurr, I think that's very unfair, at least to Ayn Rand and Kahlil Gibran. I see no reason to think that their works were any more commercial then any other philosopher. Like or hate them, they wrote their opinions on the world and people were interested in them.

I have the reverse objection to the Chicken Soup for the Soul; they are neither sold as deep philosophy, nor can I see many thinking they are. Then again, how many people really want to read serious philosophical works of enquiry into the human condition?

Mar 14, 2007, 7:11pm Top

I get a distinct whiff of "sell-out" from people like Paulo Coelho and Ayn Rand - the former claims to be tapping into "the soul of the universe", or some such drivel, whereas the latter uses kinky sex to spice up her juvenile power fantasies. Maybe they do believe what they write - that doesn't mean it's profound or even thoroughly thought out.

(Only ever read one Coelho, The Alchemist, and I couldn't get over the naivete apparent in the idea that a maker of crystalware should set up an open-air cafe and serve his tea outside, in the hope that the true profits will come when the customers will notice the beauty of the drinking-glasses and buy them. So they're serving a cheap drink... in highly expensive and beautiful glasses... outside, in the open air. Am I the only one who notices a problem with this set-up?

As for Ayn Rand, don't get me started on the entitlement fantasy whereby she has her heroine shoot a man in cold blood simply because "you're in my way". Disgusting and despicable.)

Mar 15, 2007, 12:37am Top

Prosfilaes, people obviously want to read serious philosophical works of enquiry into the human condition, otherwise there would be no market for such books, would there? My point is that these pseudo writers fulfill a demand for this kind of knowledge by peddling rubbish, most of it soul destroying. You see no reason to think that these writers are any more commerical than others? You're joking right? I mean, come on. You seriously think Schopenhauer or Plato were as motivated by commercial factors as Rand and her ilk?
Hitler also wrote his opinions on the world and people were interested in that too. The fact that people found consolation in his writing does not make them or it good. And from Ayn Rand to Mein Kampf is a very small step.
Have you read Ayn Rand? Or are you simply playing devi's advocate? The devil needs no advocate, trust me.

Mar 15, 2007, 1:45am Top

Okay, tomcatMurr, today I'm agreeing with you (even if you ARE a Dickens fan ;-) Ayn Rand has always struck me as a rank opportunist. It's disturbing how many people are completely mesmerized by her load o'crap. I run used book sales for our Friends of the Library group, and am always asked for her books, especially Atlas Shrugged. We do, however, also sell a tremendous amount of philosophy and theology.

Mar 15, 2007, 6:44am Top

I like Ayn Rand, but I don't buy into her philosophies. I tend to skip over her long rants and enjoy her fiction rather than what she is trying to portray through that fiction. I prefer The Fountainhead to Atlas Shrugged by far, if that matters. I also do not recall any kinky sex, at least not of the type that cannot be found in thousands of other novels. Hardly a selling point.

Edited: Mar 16, 2007, 8:00am Top

There's a market for serious philosophical works of enquiry into the human condition? I thought the authors all had real jobs working for a university or church or some such, or were independently wealthy, so as not to have to worry about their books selling. People buy those books because they want to read simple expositions, simple philosophies. Ayn Rand even embeds them in fiction, to make them go down better.

My complaint was not about the quality or lack thereof of those authors. But I neither believe that their sole goal was to make money, nor do I believe that wanting to have enough money to survive as an author is such an excretiable thing. Yes, people like Plato got along without worrying about money; sadly, the 14th (I mean 13th) Amendment to the US Constitution (and similar laws in other countries) brought an end to any hope of a society with a small leisure class dependent on the slave labor of the rest of society.

Yes, I've read Ayn Rand. She's not my favorite author, but I've reread Anthem and would probably flip through Fountainhead again. I don't agree with her philosophy, but it's hardly fascism.

Edited: Mar 22, 2007, 4:16am Top

Oh, the kinky sex comes when the "heroine" gets "raped" by the "hero" of The Fountainhead:

"I want to be owned, not by a lover, but by an adversary who will destroy my victory over him, not with honorable blows, but with the touch of his body on mine. That is what I want of you, Roark. That is what I want. You wanted to hear it all. You’ve heard it. What do you wish to say now?"

"Take off your clothes."

EMBARRASSING. And there's a "let's play slave" section in Atlas Sucked as well, where the "heroine" arrives in John Galt's world and agrees to submit to his demands. Obviously Rand liked a bit of sadomasochism in her private life, but putting soft porn into her books and then claiming they're serious philosophical discourses is just... dumb.

They're novels about impossibly good-looking, repulsively selfish people who whine about how jellus the rest of the world is of them. That's it.

Mar 21, 2007, 4:48pm Top

Dude, in The Fountainhead, the heroine hits the hero across the face with a horse whip. That's pretty kinky.

I don't think she was motivated by greed. The sad thing about Rand is that she really seemed to believe her own drivel. Her opinion of herself could not have been higher. She was bestowing herself upon a world that would never understand.

I'll probably get blasted for this again, but the woman had issues.

Mar 22, 2007, 4:33am Top

And, see >20 bibliotheque:, she was a lousy writer.

Mar 24, 2007, 12:20am Top

I got Melusine by Sarah Monette from the library yesterday because I happened to see it, and recognized it from some people on LT talking about how much they liked it.

I, on the other hand, hated it. I disliked it from the very first page and by page 19, I absolutely hated it. I tried, I swear, I tried to give it a decent go before giving up, I tried at least to get to page 50, but I got stuck somewhere around page 37 and I haven't been able to bring myself to open it again. It goes back to the library tomorrow. So...I didn't waste all that much time on the book itself, but I sure had a lot of wasted time because of it. I had hour left to kill and I just couldn't read another word of it.

I suppose I should mention why I hated it. The beginning started with far too much slang and "local" not-normal-English, so that it was extremely difficult to understand what was actually going on. Also, rape and abuse are not my cup of tea. In addition, the book was written in first-person, but it switches perspective between two characters anywhere any time from a paragraph to several pages apart. There is a heading with the character's name above each switch, which is good, because they sound basically identical.

Mar 24, 2007, 11:29am Top

I read most of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged based on the recommendation of a friend that found it a life changing experience. I think that might be a little strong, but I could see how an intelligent, self-motivated kid from a broken home with few prospects could feel that way, especially after creating a successful life for himself.

I believe Ayn Rand was writing a book more about the destructive power of Stalinism on the ability of the individual to succeed on their own terms rather than a book about contemporary America. She develops the mechanisms and evils of collectivism, cronyism, and corruption, as well as the characters who represent these problems far more completely and more true to life than she does "the good guys". The "good guys" despite all the time she gives them are all stock figures straight out of central casting. She cares so little about developing them as human beings that she can't even work her points into the story, but must give them pages long speeches that read like essays. They remind me of Lake Woebegon where all the men are good looking and the children are above average.

Forget the sense of entitlement that the "good guys" all seem to have, follow how they are being crushed by the blindness of those wedded to a viciously destructive ideal.

When read from this point of view I think even Ms. Rand would have to agree she missed the real story of the book.

25jenstiens First Message
Apr 4, 2007, 1:26pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Apr 4, 2007, 1:30pm Top

The problem is that people, even intelligent people, don't think about these things critically. They start to think they've uncovered some deep truth that the rest of the world hasn't figured out. Then they recommend this book to others. It spreads like a disease.

Apr 4, 2007, 1:32pm Top

What I was going to say before was that The Lovely Bones is horrible in so many ways and I can't believe I even remember reading it 4 years later. It was that bad.

Apr 5, 2007, 6:37pm Top

#24 I agree that the most charitable interpretation of Rand is to say that she was writing in response to her childhood as a Jew in Stalinist Russia. Yet, she rejected this idea, denouced her own Judaism (it's a religion after all) and she said that her only objective was to describe the "ideal man." This is why the heroes are so one-dimensional. They aren't people, but ideals.

Apr 5, 2007, 9:54pm Top

yes, but the poblem is they are ideals that shoot people who get in their way. An ideal is something to aspire to. Are we to aspire to that?
Disease is right.

Apr 6, 2007, 11:57am Top

#29 Yeah, Rand wasn't sparking on all cylinders, that's for sure. But her ideas appeal to a certain bend of mind, one that most people (me included) grow out of before they reach their 20's.

31edumom First Message
Apr 7, 2007, 12:02pm Top

I absolutely could not get into or through A Confederacy of Dunces. Help me understand what is interesting about a hero whose main characteristic is flatulence. Speaking of something (not) to aspire to.....

Apr 7, 2007, 12:56pm Top

The first book (and the only so far) that I've read by Ayn Rand was Atlas Shrugged. I read it and wrote an analysis for a pretty prestigious scholarship. Although I didn't win, I appreciated the opportunity to read her book because she had some pretty deep opinions.

I found some of her chapters longer than necessary and her rants seemed redundant because (if I remember correctly) many of them were repeated several times throughout the book.

Although It's not my favorite book by any means, it is a great book to mull over and analyze. It was probably one of the most difficult book reports I ever wrote.

Apr 8, 2007, 8:00pm Top

#32 - If it was an Objectivist scholarship, you probably didn't win because you didn't praise the book enough! Nothing less than "the greatest book ever written" will do for the Objectivists. (Odd that such biased people label themselves with the word "objective", but there you go.)

As TomcatMurr says, Atlas Shrugged shows its true colours when the "heroine" shoots a security guard for getting in her way. All those high-flown words about honour and nobility, when it's really about who has the gun and the desire to kill.

It's refreshing that Rand was so honest about the true meaning of her philosophy, but it does worry me that her fans can't seem to grasp just how appalling that scene is. "Calmly and impersonally she, who would have hesitated to fire at an animal, pulled the trigger and fired straight at the heart of a man who had wanted to exist without the responsibility of consciousness."

It's murder. The book celebrates an act of cold, deliberate, calculated murder. It... Gaahh, I can't go on!!

Apr 9, 2007, 12:57am Top

Take a deep breath, bibliotheque. Easy now.

Apr 9, 2007, 10:22am Top

"It's murder. The book celebrates an act of cold, deliberate, calculated murder."

So does Casablanca. So does Star Wars. (And man, did the fans ever complain when Lucas changed that bit!)

Apr 9, 2007, 2:14pm Top

Calm down, calm down, pixie dust, pixie dust...

Do Casablanca and Star Wars claim to be the products of the purest human reason? Have SW fans lobbied the compliers of dictionaries of Philosophy in an attempt to get George Lucas enshrined within as the greatest thinker of all time, up there with Kant and Schegel?

(That last was a rhetorical question, btw: I really don't want to hear that the answer is "yes"...)

Apr 9, 2007, 2:28pm Top

For everyone except bibliotheque:

Star wars and philosophy here ... and Tao of Star Wars here!

Apr 9, 2007, 6:11pm Top

Ohmigosh! I remember loving Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead when I read them some thirty-odd years ago. I'll need to give them another look.

The Lord of the Rings and the whole series never interested me and I've never even touched them, despite raves from friends--again thirty-odd years ago.

So--the question is "Do the times influence the appeal of a book?" And, "Does movie hype add to the cachet and readability of a book?"

BTW, I have not seen any of the Star Wars movies. They are, however, on my "to be watched" list. I'm not interested in the books, however.

Apr 9, 2007, 7:36pm Top

The Lord of the Rings got me too. I read The Hobbit first and liked its story.

The first LOR was great. The second was not as good and I skipped around liberaly. The third I couldn't finish because I felt like I was in the cave with Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail characters where the annoying fellow follows 'Brave Sir Robin' chanting his praises until a monster eats him.

Run away! Run Away!

Apr 9, 2007, 8:25pm Top

I read The Hobbit and LOTR almost forty years ago, but one part of the trilogy that I come back to time after time is in the appendix at the end of Return of the King.

This particular appendix tells the story of what happened to Samwise Gamgee after the events of the story. It brings me to tears every time I read it. Sam becomes mayor of Hobbiton, serves some seven terms, has a child and is the most popular citizen in town, when one day riders arrive and he leaves with them for the Gray Havens, the last of the ring-bearers.

For me this is what makes LOTR.

Apr 9, 2007, 8:27pm Top

Faulty reasoning, # 35. Sure there are deaths and killings in Casablanca and Star Wars, but that is not the same thing as celebrating murder. Those deaths happen for a whole range of reasons connected with story telling: thematic concerns: war, survival, structural reaons to do with the plot etc. They don't happen simply because someone gets in the way of someone else. And despite the very marvelous links you have given us to these psuedo philosophical sites, the deaths in Star Wars are not claimed as being central to a system of thought as Randy Anne's are, nor are they ever philosophically justified.

CEP, don't bother reading AR again: there are much better things to do with your time (watching socks dry springs to mind) and ditto Star Wars. Lucas and Spielberg together killed American cinema, but that's probably another thread, probably another website even...

Apr 9, 2007, 11:04pm Top

tomcatMurr, I'm referring to specific killings in Casablanca and SW: Rick's killing of Strasser to protect Laszlo, and Han's killing of Greedo.

Both of these killings are done by 'good guys'. They do both happen because 'someone gets in the way of someone else'. And Rick's killing of Strasser is indeed 'celebrated': it's a pivotal moment of character development for Rick. Rick has decided to save Laszlo and lose Ilsa; now that decision is put to the test. Rick passes the test. The Strasser character is actually pretty close to the armed guard at Galt's torture room: a petty apparatchik in the service of an evil government.

The situation with Han and Greedo is a little different. Both are criminals. Still, the film treats Han as one of the good guys, and Han shoots first.

BTW, it's interesting that a badly-written novel fifty years old can still stir up this kind of discussion and emotion. Rand would approve.

Apr 10, 2007, 1:32am Top

Ok, now I'm going to bow out of this discussion, because the thought that I am participating in something that Rand would approve of makes me feel as if I have been dipped in warm slime, and that I have accidentally also swallowed quite a lot of it.


Apr 10, 2007, 7:32am Top

Oh I'm still going to play, precisely because Rand would NOT have approved of this discussion. Rational people approve of debate whereas rabid narcissists can't stand so much as a hint of opposition to their views: we all know which camp Rand fell into.

Regarding that scene with "the heroine" shooting the guard, we're forgetting the context. I've never seen "Casablanca", but I'm willing to bet that in that scene Rick does not play with the nameless guard like a cat pawing a mouse. In "Atlas Shrugged", the heroine does.

"Listen carefully," she said. "Either you let me in or I shoot you. You may try to shoot me first, if you can. You have that choice, and no other. Now decide."
His mouth fell open and the key fell from his hand.
"Get out of my way," she said.
He shook his head frantically, pressing his back against the door. "Oh Christ, ma'am!" he gulped in the whine of a desperate man. "I can't shoot at you, seeing as you come from Mr Thompson! And I can't let you in against the word of Dr Ferris! What am I to do? I'm only a little fellow! I'm only obeying orders! It's not up to me!"
"It's your life," she said.
"If you let me ask the chief, he'll tell me, he'll -"
"I won't let you ask anyone."
"But how do I know that you really have an order from Mr Thompson?"
"You don't. Maybe I haven't. Maybe I'm acting on my own - and you'll be punished for obeying me. Maybe I have - and you'll be thrown in jail for disobeying. Maybe Mr Thompson and Dr Ferris agree about this. Maybe they don't - and you have to defy one or the other. These are the things you have to decide. There is no-one to ask, no-one to call, no-one to tell you. You will have to decide them yourself."
"But I can't decide! Why me?"
"Because it's your body that's barring my way."
"But I can't decide! I'm not supposed to decide!"
"I'll count to three," she said. "Then I'll shoot."
"Wait! Wait! I haven't said yes or no!" he cried, cringing tighter against the door, as if immobility of body and mind were his best protection.
"One -" she counted: she could see his eyes staring at her in terror. "Two -" she could see that the gun held less terror for him than the alternative she offered - "Three."
Calmly and impersonally she, who would have hesitated to fire at an animal, pulled the trigger and fired straight at the heart of a man who had wanted to exist without the responsibility of consciousness.

There you have it. Rather than tell him "Get out of the way or I shoot you", the heroine teases the not-very-bright employee with the possibility that she might have authority to be there and, when he responds in confusion, takes that confusion as her God-given right to shoot him.

Did you notice that the entire scene was crafted to take the weight of the decision to kill OFF the heroine's shoulders, and place all responsibility onto the shoulders of the employee? In other words, it's not the heroine's fault for shooting to kill rather than to wound, it was HIS fault for not obeying her or not killing her.

I think it is the fact that the killing was optional that gets me. She could have shot him in the leg, got his gun from him and then knocked him unconscious. But no, the guy had to die, because to this heroine the man is less important than an animal.

Does that adequately explain why I hate this book so much?

Apr 10, 2007, 9:29am Top

Ugh. It's been decades since I read the novel, and I had forgotten how bad much of the writing was.

Clearly, Dagny needs to bone up on the Evil Overlord List. She should have shut up and just shot the guy.

Rule 7: When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll say, "No." and shoot him. No, on second thought I'll shoot him then say "No."

Dagny is not playing with the guard. Rather, Rand is playing with the reader. She is trying, as she does though most of the novel, to flay open every human relationship and tease out its ethical and metaphysical anatomy. Unfortunately, she is so heavy-handed with this, and the scene as a result is just absurd.

Did you notice that the entire scene was crafted to take the weight of the decision to kill OFF the heroine's shoulders, and place all responsibility onto the shoulders of the employee?

Well, yeah. He's the one blocking the door. I'd phrase it that Dagny tried her damnedest NOT to kill him. She gave him several chances to just run away. If the guard won't fight, won't move, and won't run away, and he's barring my way when I'm trying to rescue my honey who's being tortured by cardboard villains? Yeah, I'd shoot him, too.

I'd probably have some bad nights later on. But I'd feel a lot worse if I didn't kill him, and the person I loved died instead. That's Dagny's choice.

She can't shoot him in the leg. That's only for the movies. When cops or soldiers shoot in real life, they shoot to kill. Only fictional movie heroes are good enough shots to hit a hand or leg in a field situation.

BTW, what do you MEAN you haven't seen Casablanca?!? You must go and rent it IMMEDIATELY! Now! Git! I mean it!

Apr 10, 2007, 1:23pm Top

How many people would be that confused about whether to save themselves or follow orders? Maybe in a war it happens, but not a security guard. They aren't that loyal to their employers, they don't get paid enough.

Dagny is not a trained soldier, she did not have to shoot to kill. Rand is trying to convince the reader that someone who might get confused at the point of a gun, someone who isn't instantly in touch with exactly the right thing to do at every moment of their lives, is worse than an animal and might as well be shot and killed. That's pretty harsh.

Apr 10, 2007, 1:56pm Top

Saying she did not have to shoot to kill is redundant; the only reason to shoot someone in real life not to kill is to torture. If you shoot someone carrying a gun, you shoot to kill or you're just committing suicide. You can't safely stop someone by shooting somewhere other than in the chest or the head, and the police are invariably trained to shoot people in the chest, to kill.

If she had to get in there, she gave him plenty of opportunity to get out of the way, more than I would have in her shoes.

Apr 10, 2007, 3:01pm Top

Rand is trying to convince the reader that someone who might get confused at the point of a gun, someone who isn't instantly in touch with exactly the right thing to do at every moment of their lives, is worse than an animal and might as well be shot and killed. That's pretty harsh.

Now, I don't think this is exactly right - I don't think Rand is concerned with whether you get confused at the point of a gun, I think she's concerned with whether you can take responsibility for your own actions and choices. But what's important is that she is trying to show something with this death. Those who are saying the security guard was killed "just for getting in the way" are really missing the message in this scene. Rand is passing a judgment on this man. It's extremely heavy-handed, just like everything else in her books, and of course it's reasonable to disagree with that judgment, but it's clear that this is meant to be instructional. This man deserved to die because he wasn't living his life as a man.

It's stranged, I've noticed several threads where people bring up this specific scene as the most awful thing in all of Rand's novels, and it just never struck me as that bad or, even more so, out of the ordinary. Western culture has lots of stories for moral instruction that involve the death of the person you're meant not to emulate.

Apr 10, 2007, 5:03pm Top

And I think it's harsh to judge someone for becoming confused because someone points a gun at you. That seems pretty human to me, or "as a man" as you put it.

Edited: Apr 10, 2007, 5:46pm Top

If someone points a gun at me and says move or get shot, I am bloody-well going to MOVE, not stand there and have a hand-wringing conversation with them.

I've BEEN there. I was terrified, but not confused. I did exactly what they wanted yet managed to keep them from going into my apartment by lying about my husband being there (he was asleep) and that he had no money either because we just got back from Disney (he had a couple twenties on him.)

Also, if my husband was in a building and he was in mortal danger and I thought a security guard was stalling (which is how I would have reacted to the situation described in the book) I would have shot him, too.

(Edited to add: I'm not saying it was right to shoot the guard, just understandable.)

Apr 10, 2007, 6:07pm Top

And I think it's harsh to judge someone for becoming confused because someone points a gun at you. That seems pretty human to me, or "as a man" as you put it.

It most definitely is harsh. I'm just pointing out that she's definitely trying to be harsh with him, because he represents a lot of the behavior that she's trying to discourage with much of her writings to begin with.

Yes, Morphidae, for serious. One take on this is that the man was confused - about whether he was more concerned about keeping his life or getting in trouble with his superiors. Which seems unnatural to me too.

In any case, I'm not saying Atlas Shrugged isn't awful. Ayn Rand was really not a very good writer, as evidenced very well by the prose in the passage quoted above. And her followers can definitely be a bit intense. But I think it's moderately interesting to read her works as the product of her time in Soviet Russia. Also, I find that they're very popular among young people and I think this is actually a good thing: most of them grow out of it, but they get this experience of reading a novel that has a definite message that is actually easily accessible. Yes, now that we're grown up we think it's didactic and childish, but I think it's probably good for someone's reading experience to see something where the philosophy comes through in such an obvious way, it could prepare you for more sophisticated messages later on.

Apr 10, 2007, 9:42pm Top

but I think it's probably good for someone's reading experience to see something where the philosophy comes through in such an obvious way, it could prepare you for more sophisticated messages later on.

On the other hand it could simply inspire them to get a gun and go out and shoot people who get in their way!

Apr 11, 2007, 5:04am Top

No offense, all, but this is getting tedious. There must be many more bad writers we need to rag on, besides Rand.

Apr 17, 2007, 12:48pm Top

Yes, now that we're grown up we think it's didactic and childish, but I think it's probably good for someone's reading experience to see something where the philosophy comes through in such an obvious way, it could prepare you for more sophisticated messages later on.

That's what Bertrand Russell or the Pop Culture and Philosophy (Star Wars and Philosophy, etc.)series are for.

Apr 17, 2007, 11:55pm Top

53: Ooh, ooh, I just finished Superman: Sacrifice and it really pissed me off... because they make an issue of the morality of killing. Oops. Guess that really doesn't change this discussion.

But just to get it out, I actually don't blame Greg Rucka in particular. I blame all of DC for their "killing is bad" policy that only seems to be enforced when Wonder Woman is doing the killing. Misogynist bastards.

(For those interested, it's a pretty good book, until the end where it just seems to trail off and fall apart.)

Apr 20, 2007, 1:16am Top

All-Time "I'll Never Get THAT Time Back!" Books (in no particular order)
The Memory Keeper's Daughter -Kim Edwards
White Teeth-Zadie Smith
Krik?Krak! -Edwidge Danticat
Law of Love -Laura Esquivel
March -Geraldine Brooks
The Shipping News -E. Annie Proulx
Fortune's Rocks -Anita Shreve
A Dark-Adapted Eye -Barbara Vine (aka Ruth Rendell)
Ahab's Wife -Sena Jeter Nasland
Lost -Gregory Maguire
Catherwood -Marly Youmans
Killoyle -Roger Boylan

-Mind you, I don't have any quarrel with the authors themselves, in fact, some of these books profoundly disappointed me, b/c I had liked their authors' other work so much.

Apr 20, 2007, 4:55am Top

I quite enjoyed White Teeth. Chacun a son gout.

Apr 20, 2007, 7:41am Top

I enjoyed The Shipping News in movie form, but struggled with the book. It was written in a style that only Montezuma's Revenge could understand.

Apr 20, 2007, 4:02pm Top

I nominate The brief history of the dead by Peter M. Senge. It started off interesting with an unusual take on the afterlife. For a short book it seemed to take an eternity for the last person on earth to die and I was ready to help her along. The last couple of chapters were excruciating and I don't think the ending lived up to the rules established earlier.

Apr 21, 2007, 2:50pm Top

pechemerle: White Teeth is beautifully written, and I wanted very much to like it. I just have trouble with certain kinds of social satire: where you can see the disaster the character is headed for--because their personality dooms them to choosing exactly the wrong thing--you're squiming with embarrassment for them, and in the end, nobody's happy, nobody's learned anything, and nothing has really changed. I'm not saying it's a bad book (that's a whole other list!), just one I'd have avoided if I'd known more about it.
ps-could I have a translation of "Chacun a son gout"?

Scaryguy--I'm with you on the style of The Shipping News: Deliberately Fractured Grammar As "Style"--blech.

Apr 22, 2007, 4:10am Top

hbsweet: chacun a son gout = each to his own taste

Apr 22, 2007, 6:29pm Top

I am on a mission to try to get to my "must reads". Among them was In Cold BLood} by Capote. Sadly, it is such a disapointment. I have finished about 4 books since starting it and no matter how many times i pick it up, i just find it to be a big bore.

Sorry Truman

Edited: Apr 22, 2007, 10:08pm Top

I agree with you, AstridG. Truman Capote is a very minor writer indeed, little more than a glorified journalist. He was a great conversationalist and controversialist, but a great writer? Sadly no. It was Gore Vidal (a very great writer) who said of Capote "he has the mind of a Kansas housewife."

Apr 23, 2007, 11:46am Top

I'm glad there are others who hated The Shipping News. I thought I was the only one. More than the writing style, I just really didn't connect with the characters. And then they cast 5'6" Kevin Spacey as the main guy, I laughed when I saw the trailer. Didn't see the movie, tho.

Apr 24, 2007, 8:46am Top

I hope another member can help me! I received an advance copy book from Bookcrossing.com about two years ago. I cannot remember the title nor the author. It was by far the most horrible book I have ever TRIED to read. I could not even finish it. It may seem unfair to say it was the worse, seeing as I never actually finished it, but I have only ever put about 3 books down unfinished. The plot was about some guy who wanted to be an animal - travels to the mountains, dresses as an animal...horrible, awful. So terrible I have forgotten the title. Anyone else receive this book?

May 4, 2007, 10:12am Top

I also didn't like The Shipping News.

Other books that I can't believe I wasted my time on were The Crimson Petal and the White. To me it was 900 pages that never went anywhere. I only finished it because it was lent to me by a friend and I felt obligated to see it through to the end. It took me forever though. I just can't understand why people rave over the story. It jumps around characters and just when you start to get interested in one it jumps to another character and by the time it goes back the one you were getting interested in days, months, or years had past.

Then there was The Book of Shadows which I just couldn't bring myself to finish...which is something that I rarely do.

And finally (at least for this post) there was Year Zero by Jeff Long. I bought because it had an interesting premise, but the back of the book was nothing like what the actually story was.

Edited: May 4, 2007, 10:23am Top

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

What a piece of ... blech.

I couldn't get myself to finish it, no matter how short it was. Normally, this type of book is just up my alley. I love spiritual/inspirational reading. However, the Prophet is filled with nonsensical contradictions. Up is down, down is up, love is hate, hate is love, black is white, white is black - all in purple prose. I quit in disgust when the author started blaming victims for the crimes against them.

May 4, 2007, 11:11am Top

My nomination:

John Norman's bizarro bondage porn masquerading as Science Fiction. The first four or five books kind of down-play that whole aspect, but ye gawds after that things get very weird indeed.

People with issues re: Ayn Rand's sexual stuff should definitely stay away from him. Their heads would likely explode over his views on women.

Weird that this was actually published by Del Rey for many, many years. I'm under the impression that Lester Del Rey actually saw something worthwhile in this stuff. Also kinda scary that if you google things like his name or "World of Gor" there're all kinds of groups into him and his writing. Go figure.

May 4, 2007, 11:19am Top

Also, I found David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series just about unreadable starting somewhere in the middle of the third book.

Pity because the first book was actually well-written. But it went downhill and downhill rapidly. I'm under the impression that sales were so bad in the US that the publisher pretty much walked away from this turkey.

Edited: May 4, 2007, 12:13pm Top

I was once forced to sleep in a doorway behind a suburban strip mall (don't ask) where I found a copy of a book on the ground by a guy named Hugh Pentecost. I read the book because it was all I had and it was too cold for me to fall asleep immediately. I don't remember the title of the book, only that it took place in a hotel in New York City and that it was AWFUL. I made sure to remember the name of the author so that I could avoid reading any of his other stuff in the future. I've read a lot of mysteries in my time, and this one was by far the worst.

Edited: May 4, 2007, 12:17pm Top

>Message 9: Sykil
That just proves how vaied people's tastes are! I liked The Old Man and the Sea by Hemigway very much!

Have to agree to The Lovely Bones though, could not finish it.

May 4, 2007, 12:27pm Top

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Huge bestseller, my mum and her friedns loved it. I really like vampire novels, I loved Dracula by Bram Stoker, when I read it as a teenager.

Back to The Historian:
Long, overly complicated and tedious. It was a huge drag. It just rambled on and on and on. I kept putting it down a lot to read something else, because I was bored. By the time I picked it up again, I wouldn't have a clue, whose story I was reading - the characters all sounded the same. About half way through the book I considered tossing it, but sheer stubbornness kept me reading. The last 200 pages I skimmed - first I read every other sentence, then I read the first sentence of each paragraph, finally I read about 1 sentence per page. And still I managed to keep track of the plot. It tried to leave you with a cliffhanger, of course. Sorry, not scary.

May 22, 2007, 7:15pm Top

Moby Dick: couldn't get through it at all. I'm willing to live with the lack of having read it.

Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife: just didn't "do" it for me. I liked his writing, but couldn't get into the plot.

Anything by Robert Jordan: once I'd read book 7 of The Wheel of Time series and realised the ending was still nowhere in sight, I gave up. Horrible dialogue, too.

The Sword of Shannara: too many cliches in a row. When I tried to give it away to the used English bookshop here in town, even the owner didn't want it.

The Belgariad and The Malloreon: I've discussed this with some native speakers, and I've come to the conclusion that you have to read these at a young age, because as an adult it's just a bunch of hackneyed, romantic crap (excusez le mot). Most of my American friends love them, most of my Dutch friends are unmoved.

The Da Vinci Code: seems I'm not alone in this. Actually thought it was pretty funny, when you leave aside the terrible writing, because he uses just the right amount of "difficulty" in his riddles to make the average reader feel very smart for figuring it out before the protagonists do. Does that make me sound like a snobbish bitch? Oh well.

Dune House Atreides: I'm sure Herbert Jr. means well, but the writing was stilted with none of the interesting cultural-philosophical tidbits.

There's probably more, but these are all I can think of for the moment (2 a.m.). ;)

74demandy First Message
Edited: May 23, 2007, 1:37pm Top

I agree that The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards was a waste. I have a really hard time getting through books where i don't like any of the characters.

I also didn't like Reading Lolita in Tehran. I had high expectations for it, but just could never get into it.

May 30, 2007, 5:02pm Top

It's probably been mentioned before, here or the first "awful" thread, but the nicest thing I can say about Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper is that it's something else I can add to my "100 Books in '07" list. It read like a lifetime network movie, it had a wholly unnecessary subplot, and the ending was poorly written.

Jun 1, 2007, 12:54pm Top

> #75 - I looooooooved My Sister's Keeper! It's definitely one of my all-time favourite books. Ah well. ;)

I recently finished Ghostwritten by David Mitchell, and I must say that it's one of the worst books I've ever read in my life. I was completely fed up by the time I reached the mid-point of the book, but I felt so bad for wasting so much time on it that I forced myself to finish. David Mitchell is definitely on my black list from now on!

Jun 2, 2007, 7:25pm Top

Go, tomcat ! Yes, and I would like to add popular writers like Jodi Picoult. I don't understand why her books are best sellers pretending to be literature.

Jun 2, 2007, 7:28pm Top

Well, I have to jump in and defend Truman Capote, who was my cousin ! (I never met him, unfortunately.) I think he was a talented writer who squandered his talents and died too young. But when he's good, he's very good. Read his early stories.
And that comment by Gore V. is just bitchy.

Jun 5, 2007, 3:53pm Top

Snowcrash and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius are both execrable and to be avoided.

Jun 6, 2007, 10:08am Top

I quite like Snow Crash, myself.

Jun 6, 2007, 10:29am Top

Another vote for Snow Crash being a decent read. I'll concede its not the best book in the world ever, it certainly has many faults, but it is very readable, engaging and makes many pertinant comments on society.

Jun 6, 2007, 10:52am Top

If we have to hurt Neal Stephenson, there are books that deserve it far, far more. I've heard rather unkind things about Quicksilver and the other two, which is why I avoided them like the plague.

Cryptonomicon was fun, but tedious as all hell at times.

Jun 7, 2007, 7:22pm Top

I like Neal Stephenson, but I think he gets a great idea, works it through, then doesn't know where when and how to finish his novels. So I agree that some of them get tedious.

Jun 9, 2007, 10:48pm Top

Pawleys Island by Dorothea Benton Frank. Pure drivel, cliche. I can't believe I finished it, think I was just curious if she could maintain such a level of bad writing.

Edited: Jun 17, 2007, 9:19pm Top

This one ended up in a rest stop trash bin: The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. It was a best seller and got great reviews. Critics raved that they couldn't believe a college student had written it. Really? I teach college English, and I thought it read like bad sophomore writing. Not to mention its pretentiousness. I swear, he must have gone through his Norton Anthology of American Lit, vol. 2, in order to drop all those names, phrases and cutesy hints. I couldn't finish it.

Jun 26, 2007, 12:18pm Top

Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier.

IMO this book flickers more than it burns. It goes nowhere. Glosses over major events yet lingers on minor ones....and William Blakes character seems like a pointless after thought.

Jul 4, 2007, 5:57am Top

I had a hard time getting through Don DeLillo's The Body Artist. Reading it was about as pleasant as having Clorox injected into your brain.

Edited: Aug 7, 2007, 1:56pm Top

Just bumping this thread to the top since I've noticed people are still posting in the 400+ thread. This is the thread to be now, please post here!

And to make this post completely on-topic, I'm throwing Marvel's Civil War: Front Line into the mix. Holy crap, that thing was 11 issues? ARGH! I hate you Paul Jenkins. What happened? You used to be such a good writer!

Aug 12, 2007, 11:32am Top

I can't believe I wasted my time on The Guardians by Ana Castillo. This is one of those books that I would have stopped reading if it weren't for the fact that it was an Advance Reader Copy....so I felt a little obligated in finishing it.

90retiredrich First Message
Aug 20, 2007, 12:55am Top

I am one of those people who always slogged through hoping that it would get better - so the two that I couldn't get more than a little way through really stand out in my mind:

Even Cowgirls get the Blues & Billy Bathgate

Anybody else hate "Cowgirls" and the long rambling sentences of "Bathgate"?

Aug 20, 2007, 12:37pm Top

#90: Oh, I loved Even Cowgirls. Great sex scene.

I like the way Tom Robbins sets up his stories, in little clips that eventually all fall together. But they can be a bitch to get through at times. When I read Skinny Legs and All, I don't think I even realized I was enjoying it until it was almost over. But somehow, by the time I finish his books, regardless of how "the ride" has been, I always feel like I've had a bit of a religious experience.

92marlisa First Message
Aug 20, 2007, 6:11pm Top

I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this already, but The Inheritance of Loss is one that I recently struggled to finish reading. Maybe it was a case of having read too many glowing reviews before I started, but I kept turning the pages waiting for it to get better and it never did.

Kiran Desai has a writing style that I can only describe as pretentious (too much verbal gymnastics), the plot is barely there and none of the characters are worth caring about. Don't waste your time on this, no matter how compelling the reviews make it seem.

Aug 21, 2007, 5:17pm Top

#92 Marlisa, I gave up on The Inheritance of Loss about a third of the way in. You are right--unless it gets better after that point, nothing much happens and the characters are simplistic.

94MathildaCat First Message
Aug 22, 2007, 11:14am Top

This is my first post here and I'm really looking forward to spending a lot of time here.

I disliked Satanic Verses and didn't finish it, I managed to get through Shalimar The Clown last week but only becuase I was forced to.

My m.i.l is an retired teacher and gives me books to read that will improve my education. She made me read a series of either 6 or 8 by Dorothy Dunnett which I loathed and hated. It wasted 5 weeks of my life - that was in the early days of my marriage - I have methods now to avoid reading the ones that I don't want to.

Aug 22, 2007, 9:13pm Top

#94 Don't tell me ~ Cliff Notes! lol

Aug 31, 2007, 8:20pm Top

#92 + 93

I completely agree with you on the topic of The Inheritance Of Loss. I read it, as I try to read all the Booker Prize winners, but I really didn't like it. I didn't feel like any of the characters were "real people" and the writing style was so flat.

I really don't understand what criteria they use to judge the Booker Prize if this is what wins.

Edited: Dec 23, 2007, 4:09pm Top

My reaction as well to The Inheritance of Loss: WTF? And I couldn't get through it.

Get this, I was in West Bengal--Darjeeling and surrounding areas--when that book won a big prize. I guess it was the Booker. The book is supposed to take place in Kalimpong, I think--but near enough. We're talking Nepali hill and mountain country.

So borrowed it when I got home. I think familiarity with that area, or even India in general, makes for a more tiresome reading experience. This area had a longtime separatist insurgency (but I repeat myself, this is northeast India) in the 1970's, but you can sense the lingering effects. Oh, also, this isn't an area that has felt much effect yet of take-off economy elsewhere in the country. So, physically, it wouldn't have changed much. Still a lot of poverty. Middle-class people still don't have refrigerators, etc.

So I kept hoping that the novel would get to the insurgency--how does it feel to know that people around you are secretly fighters? How do you live with this low-level fear all the time? The servant with the son in the U.S. seemed to ring true (except when does this take place? It isn't the 1990's yet?). Maybe it did and I just didn't get there. Overall, the style seemed very old, very tired, too much in debt to the gentility of a much older, more timid generation.

Indians are very literary, so there was due diligence given to news of the award and to Desai in the press, but I didn't see an actual review anywhere. FWIW, she lives in New York. The book was in the Darjeeling bookstore much frequented by (mostly Indian) tourists but none of my acquaintances in Darjeeling seem charged to read it. For sure, the Bangladeshi guy winning the Nobel around the same time was much bigger news in West Bengal.

I've got to confess that I rarely read contemporary novels by any English or Scottish writers, unless the author is a product of the colonial backwash like Rushdie or Naipaul. I know this is also true of well-read Asians; they're more likely to read Latino authors in translations and of course estadounidenses.

So I take it that the judges of prizes like this (I think the Booker only goes to "Commonwealth" countries, which leaves out the U.S. and some other former colonies) are really striving to go after the former colonials, to be more inclusive, to pick up a modern, cosmopolitan buzz: "We're more universal than you think! This is kinda sorta one of our own." Of course that's why the great Amitav Ghosh turned down ...if not this award, some other "Commonwealth" thing. Makes me wonder if there are a lot of other authors like Ghosh that say, "Please, count me out.
Don't nominate me."

Sep 12, 2007, 2:21am Top

I had to read The Hamilton Case by Michelle de Krestser for a Historical Fiction topic at university. I hated it. Wanted to tear my eyeballs out. I wasted HOURS forcing myself to get through it. Ugh.

Oct 1, 2007, 11:16pm Top

#97...ummm..maybe I'm just dumb, but I don't get what you wrote...

Edited: Oct 4, 2007, 3:12am Top


I think one of the biggest wastes of time I have ever encountered in reading is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It was extremely irritating to me to get all the way through this book and then find out that Jim had been free the whole time...I read it in high school and I'm still bitter.

Edited: Oct 3, 2007, 8:47pm Top

There have been a few books that I felt were a waste of my time, but honestly not that many. I mainly read for entertainment so I tend to stay away from some of the heavier, deeper toned themes.

Koontz' - False Memory totally blew.
Anne Rice's - The Vampire Armand.
Heinlein's - Stranger in a Strange Land (perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if the entire book was not highlighted by a previous reader who deemed it necessary to point out its many sexist undertones) and more recently, King's - Lisey's Story.

Oct 7, 2007, 2:19pm Top

I just read through the predecessor thread to this ( http://www.librarything.com/talktopic.php?topic=797 ) and have to say I'm rather gratified that I'm not the only person who couldn't get on with a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. I couldn't get to the end of the first chapter. on either of my two attempts.

Oct 7, 2007, 4:19pm Top

My time yes, that was wasted, but also my money on House of Leaves. I read it recently and cannot get over the "I cannot believe I bought that crap" feeling yet. What I absolutely need is for someone to please explain to me how on earth that was a good (even considered great by some) novel. Seriously, what am I missing here? How come all I can think of it as is random nonsense that was in no way scary, thinly interesting and very much contrived and annoying in presentation. I hope someone can make me see the light on this book because it seriously irks me.

Oct 7, 2007, 4:49pm Top

I'm in the same boat as you Phlox72. maybe it should come with some blotter acid or something...

Edited: Oct 11, 2007, 8:55pm Top

Anything by Dan Brown, really, but most particularly Digital Fortress. Oh.My.G-D was it awful. There have been other books that I have not finished for one reason or another, but mostly I picked them up later and finished them off. Digital Fortress I absolutely refuse to have anything else to do with, and because of it, I will never read anything else by Dan Brown. Ever. Even if I'm stuck on an airplane with nothing to read.

Oct 12, 2007, 9:45am Top

A whole lot of people were always telling me that every writer or wannabe writer needed to read James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a young man I tried several times & didn't get very far. Then I got the brilliant idea of taking it along when I flew from OH to CA to visit my daughters. I tried. I really tried. But long before the setting sun lead us across the desert to LAX, I was reading the In-flight magazine & james joyce was buried in my purse.

Oct 12, 2007, 10:34am Top

Someone mentioned Sword of Shannara, which not only put me off Brooks but made me very reluctant to read any fantasy without a personal recommendation from someone I trust!
The most recent book I've regarded as mostly a waste of time was Dictionary of the Khazars. I was pretty bored by A hundred years of solitude too.

Oct 12, 2007, 11:57pm Top

I can't believe how many throughout LT slam James Joyce, particularly P of A as YM... I pick it up every few months a read a bit... oh well.

Gotta agree with Shunnara though, like there was a contest to see how many cliches could be crammed in....

Oct 13, 2007, 3:30pm Top

Shakespeare was the absolute master of the cliche. Without a Bible on one side and Bartlett's on the other he couldn't have written a stitch.

Oct 13, 2007, 5:00pm Top

I can't slam JJ completely. His Dubliners, The short stories are great. My favorite Christmas video "A Galway Christmas" concludes with the narrator reading the last paragraph of "The Dead," followed by Handels "Amen Chorus." Joyce is one of the classics, even if I can't get through PA as YM.

Oct 13, 2007, 11:20pm Top

One of my book reading buddies is halfway through a book I consider a total piece of drek: The Blue Bedspread.

Oct 14, 2007, 2:04pm Top

#103 and 104 - I agree with each of you! I tried to read House of Leaves. I really did try! I didn't find it scary or interesting in the least. I kept saying, "This is going to get better. I know it is!" I'm still waiting. :)

Oct 17, 2007, 12:40am Top

#109, yes, but geneg, when Shakespeare wrote them, they were not cliches. They have become cliches becasue Shakespeare's influence on the language is so huge. I know you know this, and are just being grumpy.

Dont be such a grumpy old man!

Oct 24, 2007, 12:52pm Top

I don't remember if I found House of Leaves scary, I just remember that I had a lot of "fun" reading it.

Agree with #101 about The Vampire Armand, however, the same story is pretty much told in Blood and Gold and was much better.

115quillman First Message
Oct 24, 2007, 3:10pm Top

test message

Oct 25, 2007, 11:03am Top

Hi, I've just joined this group and am looking forward to becoming mired in controversies!

I actually really enjoyed White teeth but can see what others mean as I did find it to be a bit cliched in parts.

The historian was very very good until the end which I thought was completely OTT and unbelievable.

A terrible book club book I read recently was My dirty little book of stolen time Dross.

Nov 11, 2007, 11:41pm Top

I can't believe I wasted my time with Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I feel it was poorly written and completely horrible.

Nov 23, 2007, 4:36pm Top

I orginally posted it as a topic but realised I should have posted it here.
The Hawkline Monster by Richard Brautigan.
I'd provide quotes but, I threw it off a building to see how far it would fly. Bad writing that I believe was intended to parody bad writing. He strikes me as one of those writers who can't write worth a damn and pretend that they are more than that by accumulating an entourage who've swallowed his BS and support him.

Edited: Dec 17, 2007, 7:54pm Top

Loved Catch-22, hated, absolutely hated, the third Anne Rice vampire novel. Oh god, the memoires. Since then I've never forced myself to finish a bad book. That's what dumpsters are for (just kidding, I couldn't even bring myself to throw away one of her books).
As for Ayn Rand, I think she's one of those authors you should read in High School, before you develop the critical skills necessary to distinguish bad from good. I remember liking The Fountainhead, but then, I also liked Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence, another book I absolutely loathe now. "Look at me, I'm Robert Pirsig, I'm so much better than you..."

Dec 10, 2007, 11:14am Top

Positively the worst book I've ever read was The Train Now Departing by Martha Grimes. The jacket said it was 'reminiscent of Barbara Pym' but it isn't. It's more reminiscent of being trapped in an interminable, dull conversation with someone who has very little to say and takes an awful lot of time to say it. A similarly dull book is A Game for the Living by Patricia Highsmith, which consists mainly of lengthy descriptions of what the characters ate for lunch.

Dec 18, 2007, 1:41pm Top

'Please Don't Kill the Freshman' was hyped as some kind of masterpiece when all it amounts to is the navel gazing angst of a precocious teenager's diary. Yeah, you're misunderstood by everyone in the world. Your superior insights burden you among the phillistines. Whatever. Grow up.
This is one of the few books I've quit in the middle.
The sad thing is that this kid might actually now believe that she's a writer.

'The Extinction Club' is not as bad, but still boring.

Jan 6, 2008, 9:02pm Top

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. The first one I actually enjoyed, but the rest of them....bah. Didn't even bother trying after the 3rd one.

Jan 23, 2008, 1:41pm Top

well, actually, after the 3rd or 4th one (Robert Jordan) they do drag out and get boring. I couldn't get past the 3rd one really. I was told that they do pick up and you just got to force yourself through it. Not sure if I want to do it though...

Feb 26, 2008, 1:42am Top

I got to the fifth book in the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series when I found out that the tenth (I'd already bought through the ninth) wasn't going to be the end after all. I gave up at that point and decided to wait to see how many there would be--then heard he'd died but left notes so someone could finish the series off. So maybe.

But books I thought were a waste of time? Anything by Danielle Steel--I know she's got zillions of fans, but I couldn't find a single redeeming feature of her books--they aren't well written (complete sentences, anyone?), the characters are one dimensional, the plots are ridiculous when not predictable--yuk.

Hated Red Dragon by Thomas Harris; actually threw the book away because it seemed evil to me to leave it around for others to read.

Then there's my book club's selection of literature to wallow in: Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper, which someone mentioned above; The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which ditto; One True Thing by Anna Quindlen; A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini; The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd; Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen . . . there are others, but I've gotten so depressed by the books that keep getting selected that I'm only reading ones that don't sound like I'm going to want to slit my throat if I do read them. So I miss a lot of book club meetings . . .

Sorry to go on and on, but I just found this site today!!

Mar 14, 2008, 3:56pm Top

Special Topics in Calamity Physics was a waste of my time. It had hype, it had potential, it had 500+ pages that could have and should have been edited down to at least half. I'm sorry, but must you use 20 pages to describe an idea that quite clearly could have been done equally well with a sentence or two?!

Mar 15, 2008, 2:16am Top

#125 Not to mention the overload of dreadful metaphors and similes. Blech!

Mar 15, 2008, 12:34pm Top

I liked Calamity and found my patience rewarded. It's one of those devisive books here on LT.

Mar 15, 2008, 1:39pm Top

>124 ejj1955: I had almost exactly the same experience, abandoning The Wheel of Time at No. 5 when the end of the series kept apparently receding. I hadn't bought them as far as No. 9, though: I decided I was being taken for a ride when No. 8 came out. I enjoyed the first three or so, but they started to drag as he loaded more and more subplots into the mix.

Mar 15, 2008, 1:44pm Top

127 Bookmarque

Yeah, isn't that interesting? I really liked it, I could relate to the main character and how she thought, and I found the style a lot of fun, but I've heard a lot of people say the exact opposite.

Mar 21, 2008, 3:17pm Top

I totally agree. I actually teared up reading your description of tearing up!

Mar 22, 2008, 6:39pm Top

I can't believe that I wasted my time on Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

Mar 23, 2008, 11:42pm Top

#131: I've been putting those books off for several different reasons (mainly because my TBR pile is large enough as it is), but a couple younger members of my writers' group have been urging me to read it. Without giving the plot away, is there anything specific you disliked about it?

Mar 26, 2008, 7:41pm Top

132: I enjoyed it BUT it's whiny and angsty and completely over dramatic. Meyer could use a good Thesaurus or even an editor who can tell her that using the same word over and over and over again is NOT an effective way to keep reader attention.

New Moon was WAY worse than Twilight as it was so melodramatic I almost stopped reading it.

Eclipse was better.

They are all VERY over-the-top. And whiny. And angsty. And sometimes even frustrating. I often want to slap the main character. Did I mention they were whiny and angsty?

Edited: Jun 2, 2008, 7:47pm Top

Rubs hands....

Where do I start?

Could be a spoiler, but I doubt it: Passing Under Heaven by Justin Hill - just so depressing! My gosh, they advertise on the cover and blurb that she's going to get executed, but does she get one happy moment along her way to her death? Hell no...so depressing I nearly cried, and not in that good book way either - more like that I wish I could fisticuff the main character kind of way...

The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers by Delia Falconer. Now this was sheer waffle. Utter rubbish. Ooh, I know, let's write sentences that don't really make a lot of sense, make it about a sensitive topic like the Civil War, call it literature and everyone will love it. Ghastly.

The Last of The Moccasins, oh I mean Mohicans by Cooper. I have nothing to say about this book except that I would rather watch ants crawl up a branch all day than read this...actually, the same goes for Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, and Tess of the Damned D'ubervilles.

Wilbur Smith - anything by that man except the fabulous River God. I actually think maybe it WAS inspired by the manuscripts of a dead Egyptian person who could actually put a little soul into his writing. That's the only explanation...

Cecilia Dart-Thornton and her terrible series about the pied piper revisited. Waffle. Just waffle. Overdone, trumped up waffle. Like a black piece of toast with three kinds of jam...

Terry Goodkind and his abysmal Sword of Truth series. I won't even start.

Hm..I could go on..but I think I'll come back later...

Edited: Jun 2, 2008, 12:23pm Top

Would like to mention that Last of the Mohicans was actually by James Fenimore Cooper. I mention this for two reasons: I live in Cooper territory (near Cooperstown, in fact, though the town is now better known for baseball than Cooper himself). But the better reason to mention this is that Mark Twain wrote an essay on Cooper that is one of the funniest things I've ever read. Here's a quotation from the essay: "They {the rules of fiction} require that the personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others. But this detail has often been overlooked in the "Deerslayer" tale."

You can read the whole essay here: http://ww3.telerama.com/~joseph/cooper/cooper.html

I highly recommend it--you may not appreciate Cooper any more, but you won't feel your time was wasted--reading him is the only way to appreciate Twain's genius on the topic!

Jun 2, 2008, 7:46pm Top

Oops...my bad. I don't know...like I said...crawling ants yanno?

I have read it once (well, bits of it) for uni and all I remember is: bush/fighting/bush/fighting/bush/fighting/waterfall/bush/fighting...

so I hope that's enough to appreciate the essay! I like it already from the quote...sums it up quite nicely I reckon...

Jun 6, 2008, 6:24pm Top

I don't despise much, but I too, could not stand Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. My most recent "understood-why-the-writing-was-respected-but-totally-hated-it" was Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I am a super bugs and bunnies nature lover, but that one was a bit too spiritual, lyrical and flaky for my taste.

Jul 4, 2008, 10:19pm Top

I don't want to restart the Dickens War, but he was not paid by the word! And so far as some of us are concerned, there can't be too much of him. For others who feel the same way, may I recommend the Hesperus Editions of his Christmas Books - not the famous ones, the ones which appeared as Christmas anthologies, with a couple of stories by him and then more by other people.

OK ghastly books John FowlesA Maggot Brilliant evocation of a 17thC mystery, totally falls apart in the last few chapters - nothing is explained, it's like he ran out of ideas and threw any old crap together.

Wuthering Heights a story of a lot of unpleasant people, behaving unpleasantly but we're supposed to forgive them because it's all for luuurve. - Bah Humbug.

Jul 31, 2008, 12:06pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Aug 10, 2008, 6:00pm Top

Books I hate:

Any of the fake Dune books by the son and the other guy. They both are media tie-in hacks and their writing is terrible. Dune:House Atreides was like Pollyanna does Dune !

The Historian was long and boring,and the young narrator was a total waste of time. The style of constantly ALMOST explaining everything was soo annoying.

The Inheritance of Loss was terrible. Bad writing, unsympathetic characters, and no real plot or point. We read it for a book group and not one person liked it, and many didn't finish.

Dan Brown's two popular books are written like he is a 7th grader.

The two books by Matthew Pearl, The Poe Shadow and The Dante Club were horribly written. Both were chosen by different book groups I am in. I managed to finish the Dante book, but could not force myself to finish the Poe book.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, almost nothing about Afghanistan, very trite and cliched in terms of the emotional part.

All of Anne Rice's vampire books except The Tale of the Body Thief are almost unreadable. Pandora was soo bad I didn't finish it. I am a vampire fan, so I read most vampire books *. Since Anne Rice opened the door I feel obligated to her, and like visiting an old and detested relative, buying and reading her vampire books are compulsory. Thank god she is done with them. The odd thing is that her other books are written in a different voice, and much better.

* I have collected the first 2 of the Twilight books, but have not read them yet, so i have no opinion on this series yet. I wait for books to go into paper before buying them.

I didn't think much of Snow Crash and have to say I only have Wilbur Smith's 4 Egyptian books. I have read 2 and enjoyed Seventh Scroll, but thought The River God was horribly written.

I actually liked The Lovely Bones, and all 8 of David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series, The US publisher backed out on the 8th book, so I had to get it from Canada. It was published in the UK and the rest of the world.

Thats all I can think of now.

Aug 10, 2008, 9:52pm Top

Come on, Ficus, don't be shy. Tell us what you really think! lol

Got to say, I agree with most of your assessments, esp. the "fake" Dune books (I tried but couldn't even get halfway through one of them. Don't remember which, but it doesn't matter because after that one I'm never reading another); The Da Vinci Code (though I have no opinion of his others as I refuse to read another one by Brown in this lifetime); most of Rice's vampire novels, except I loved Interview); The Historian (not a very exciting horror novel or thriller, but I did enjoy some of the travelogue portions). Unfortunately, Wilbur Smith's writing puts me to sleep, so I've never read one of his.

I also thought The Lovely Bones was good, right up to the last chapter. Then it got a little weird.

Twilight wasn't bad, but I've had no desire to continue the series.

What's the Chung Kuo series about?

No comment on the others as I haven't read them.

Edited: Aug 10, 2008, 11:44pm Top

I love it -- "Thats all I can think of... now"!!! so there's more to come!
a most excellent post, Ficus...

Edited: Aug 15, 2008, 6:12pm Top

#142 - Thank you.
I try not to dwell on terrible books, so I may not remember them all. But the next time something jogs my memory, I will know where to come :)

#141 Come on, Ficus, don't be shy. Tell us what you really think! lol

Well isn't that the point ? I can't tell anyone else what to think, nor do I want to. Others mileage may vary, its what makes the world go round.

There are some books I am ambivalent about, but this isn't that thread.

-- Spoiler Warning --

The Chung Kuo series is a dystopian future social SF series. It assumes that the Chinese ended up dominating the world. They also decided to go back to their old fashioned imperial past.

There are so many people that each continent has become one city, and its not just any city, but a city of levels. So you have huge enclosed cities, with everything inside, and piled level on level. Very few go outside, and most of it is devoted to farming, with peasants doing the work.

The higher you are in the levels the more important, powerful and rich you are. There is very strong authoritarian control, and the theme of the series is those in power trying to hold on, some are willing to change, some are rigid, and they are in political conflict. There are also groups who are outside the power structure and who are trying to bring it down. Those are the main conflicts of the series.

Different books focus on different characters, and some look at trying to solve the population/food crises with technology, some are looking at an off world colony.

My favorite is the one where they go under the very bottom level to the living past where people in a decaying trash filled world of perpetual darkness try to survive (the levels built over them).

Books 1-6 are about the struggle within the current social structure, book 7 is about an attempted compromise that doesn't work, and book 8 has a new order in charge.

Book 7 and 8 were very different than the rest of the series and a lot of people hated them, especially book 8.

ETA: It ate my original Spoiler Warning. Maybe I offended the format gods, so I typed it in again.

Oct 6, 2008, 6:32am Top

I feel like I am writing in a Dungeon since the author and book tags in zeitgeist at LT endorse LotR and Dan Brown while here there is some dissent.

Is it paranoia when you think inanimate objects are mocking you? I have never been able to read The Idiot. LOL

Oct 6, 2008, 5:28pm Top

The worst book i have ever dragged myself through was Lord of the Flies. that book had a great concept but it was so dull i distinctly remember beating my head against a wall to ease the pain. the black and white movie was better because it had a funny mechanical boar.

Oct 7, 2008, 5:32am Top

Awwww, I loved Lord of the Flies. We watched the black and white movie in school too, despite the newer one having come out just a few years before.

I think the book I've hated most over the last few years was a short Japanese novel called Snakes and Earrings. It won the Akutagawa Prize in 2003 and the author was showered with praise for having written the novel at a very young age (late teens, early 20s).


I cannot stand a single character in this book. Everyone is a lazy, freeloading, alcoholic piece of trash who screws over anyone and everyone for no reason at all. The narrator is a sleazy runaway girl who hooks up with a split-tongued guy with a mohawk and then cheats on him with a sadistic tattoo artist that keeps telling her how much he wants to choke her. For no good reason. In fact, nothing in this book happens for any reason at all, aside from the author wanting to make people look "cool."

Apparently this book is supposed to shed light on the younger generations of Japanese society, but I just wanted to punch the crap out of everyone in it. Looking back, I'm glad the book is so short and I only wasted an hour or so of my life reading it.

Edited: Oct 7, 2008, 6:02am Top

I just read a book for my bookclub called Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatton. I am amazed at how angry I got reading it.

It's got a fun premise. You 'build' a life by making a choice at the end of a short vignette. The first chapter is that you've just graduated from high school and can go to college (section #2, page 4) or travel (section #3, page 5). If you go to college, you can major in art (section #4, page 6) or major in science (section #5, page 7).

And after 10 minutes I died from a back alley abortion. The next 4 lives were short and brutal too.

It was flip and shallow and used pretty much every cliche imaginable. Every vignette seemed wildly improbable. I can read improbable, but these grated on my nerves.


Oct 7, 2008, 10:34pm Top

I tried to get through The Old Curiosity Shop. I really, really did...I thought it was intriguing, and it seemed good. But when I got to chapter ten and I realized there were sixty more chapters with effing precocious, perfect little Nell, I figured I should cut and run before things got ugly.

Ugh. I could not STAND that b*tch.

Oct 21, 2008, 7:52am Top

Not getting on with On Beauty at all!

Oct 21, 2008, 6:23pm Top

Well thats a bummer. I think its the second negative report I have heard about On Beauty, and I just brought it home.

Oct 23, 2008, 8:05pm Top

#149 and #150 - I read about 3 pages and put it up on BookMooch. Sorry, FicusFan. Didn't get very far into White Teeth either. Guess I'm not a Zadie Smith fan.

Oct 24, 2008, 6:43am Top

#150 - still give it a go. I can't say I loved it but I didn't hate it either.

Oct 24, 2008, 7:51am Top

Loved white teeth but thought on beauty was predictable and very consciously 'academic fiction' in its writing.

Oct 24, 2008, 8:06am Top

I'm about halfway through Philippa Gregory's The Virgin's Lover and am throwing in the towel. Some of her other Tudor novels have been enjoyable, but this one is little more than a bodice ripper, and it's the wimpiest portrait of Elizabeth I've come across yet.

Oct 27, 2008, 11:44pm Top

I think I may have found the worst book I've come across yet...and I didn't even need to read a whole page to realize how bad it was. I mean, just consider the following sentences (I'll name the book at the end):

(1) "The Slinger came out of the desert in the middle of a dream."

That's literally the first sentence of the book. What the heck does that mean? Was (s)he walking? Was (s)he delusional? Maybe the second sentence will help...

(2) "The dream had ended and all he knew was that he was following the traitor's trail."

Umm, nope...no help there.... Oh, now we start something of a picture: the Slinger had a horse. And, in the 7th sentence (2nd paragraph) we find out what happened to the horse:

(7) "He had formed a strange sort of attachment to the animal and he had been kind to it, putting it out of its misery when the moment came."

Yup, we don't have any actual examples of the relationship between the Slinger and the horse, but we know that he ended it's life. (Remember folks, we're only in the second paragraph.)

The third paragraph is a single sentence. And, it's at this point that I have stopped reading. It's a new record, I can normally give a book a whole chapter, or at least 5-10 pages. But this sentence stopped me cold:

"Then the dream had began."

"...had began"???? I'm not claiming to be a grammarian... However, this big of a blunder leaps off the page and makes all the vagaries of the first two paragraphs seem almost acceptable. Ack! Ack! Ack!

And the name of this book? The Shade by Thomas M. Hunt. The only positive thing I can say about this book was that it was free...downloaded from the Authors website.

Oct 28, 2008, 9:10am Top

#155: Judging from those excerpts, the author has a good chance of winning the Bulwer-Lytton bad fiction contest.

Nov 2, 2008, 8:55am Top

I have a fair few that fit the bill, all recommended by the same friend:

Pompeii by Robert Harris
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Acid Row by Minette Walters
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Alborn
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

Funny enough, the book-thing was the beginning of the end of our friendship. I've always believed in giving things a chance, so I would read the books she bought/loaned me and be tactful when I didn't like them. She took great offence and would ask for recommendations, only to return them a few days later with "Oh it was awful I just couldn't get through the first few chapters I can't be bothered with this rubbish", in a very superior, smug manner. Oddly, she makes a resolution every year to read more classics and "become more literary" (her words), but spends the rest of the year reading stuff like Do Ants Have Arseholes?.

I couldn't be bothered with the hissing and spitting over what is, after all, only a difference in personal taste. Needless to say the friendship died a death ;)

Nov 4, 2008, 2:20am Top

Strange I have read 2 of these 1 completely and liked it Mark Haddon and the other couldn't finish it was a chore Dave Pelzer. The first one I liked because the protagonist seems an adult and child at the same time.Innocent and sophisticated.

Nov 4, 2008, 11:01am Top

Well Mark Haddon's book was the better of the selection, but not for me - I've yet to meet anyone who didn't like it so it really was a case of "it's just me then"! The rest REALLY grated. The Curious Dog just bored me.

Dave Pelzer's book offended me no end. I was in care so have been around people with all sorts of abusive backgrounds. I didn't feel the writing (which was extremely poor and cliched) did justice to his plight, or that of anybody who's suffered abuse. It just sort of offered up the awful facts for shock factor, like he was prostituting himself. Of course that's not to say he WAS - just that the writing let him down badly.

Nov 6, 2008, 9:05pm Top

>157 Moomin_Mama:

Sorry about the friendship. I'm always amazed at how few people I meet in RL who like the same things I do in reading; there's some overlap with a few friends but in general I hardly ever recommend books to people unless they directly ask for it, and I am, like you, very tactful when they recommend crap to me (though mostly I just ignore recommendations any more).

It's what makes LT so precious: here there are people who like what I like and whose recommendations I can approach with some confidence. Very sweet!

And I can, likewise, read threads like this and have a good idea of what to avoid. For which I thank you all.

Nov 7, 2008, 11:07am Top

>160 ejj1955::

I love LT because I'm among fellow book-nuts and I can have likes and dislikes and not get my head bitten off! I LOVE hearing why someone hates my favourite book, or why they adore a book I couldn't stand. When I finish a book I'm dying to know what other people thought of it. It should never be a personal thing, and I don't think you should ever ASK for an opinion if you are going to take offence when you get one.

Well, I say all that but now I'm really putting it to the test with my next "Can't believe..." nomination.....

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I'm sorry, I really am! I know it's well loved, and yes I have been told "you didn't get it" but honestly, I DID get it and I didn't like it at all!

There. I've come out. If I can say that here and be accepted I know I will love LT forever.

Nov 11, 2008, 11:25am Top

I too disliked Hitchiker's Guide -- and though my 3 adult children LOVED the recent movie, I was left feeling that it was a fun romp but not a film I lust to own.

On the other hand, I adore most of Terry Pratchett's DiscWorld books. My favorite of his is still Hogfather, and I can't live without rereading Good Omens once a year or so.

There's a plethora of books out there that I dislike -- but that's no bad thing -- thank goodness for all the flavors of literature (and ice cream!) available for individual tastes.

I do find most of the books my colleagues read to be pretentious and poorly written -- and that includes The Kite Runner which I cringed my way through. Most of my colleagues worship this novel -- though I cannot fathom why. There are so many other great books out there that do a better job of presenting other cultures, IMNSHO (in my not-so-humble opinion).

I have only once or twice had the great privilege of having a truly wonderful teacher lead me through a book I initially disliked. Though the experience was all too rare, I found that the teacher's enthusiasm and knowledge helped me appreciate the craft displayed in the book, even if I never did become a fan.

Here' my ongoing problem: most of my colleagues either don't read much, or read books that I am SO not interested in or dislike (Dan Brown's stuff is a case in point. The few who do read books that I enjoy never seem to really want to TALK about the books themselves. It's frustrating!

Nov 11, 2008, 2:41pm Top

>162 RachelfromSarasota::

You too, Rachel-from-Sarasota! I'm not the only one.

You bring me on to confession no.2:

I am a Terry Pratchett virgin.

(But I DO have a copy of Wee Free Men on my tbr pile that I'm looking forward to).

Nov 12, 2008, 7:02am Top

>162 RachelfromSarasota:

I can't speak to The Kite Runner because I'll never read it--I read A Thousand Splendid Suns and hated that, pretty much. Women living miserable lives in backward civilizations is not something I want to dwell on. Though, actually, women living miserable lives in the good ol' USA is no better--I'm currently suffering through my book club's latest, Light on Snow, which features yet another couple of people (father and daughter) awash in grief over people who have died. Real life is like this; I read to escape.

But as it's the sixth or eighth or tenth book like this from the book club, it's my own damn fault, isn't it? I just have to stop.

Nov 12, 2008, 7:18am Top

You know what im just going to go out there and say it, I HATE POPPY BY: AVI. I don't know why but it was definitely a waste of my summer. Im new to library thing, so i dont have any friends or groups or stuff, im getting quite lonely, but I still have the last harry potter book to read so it's all good, LIFE IS GOOD, even though u waste time reading horrible books.

Nov 14, 2008, 11:45pm Top

Yeah, I got a few...I might have said some of them before but here we go again!

A child Called It by Dave Pelzer- Kill me...poorly written. Very poorly written. I couldn't even cry because it was just poorly written.

Now call me an idiot...*sigh*.

The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer-Yes, beat me with a stick, I read the second one... Really I thought his writing would have improved, boy was I wrong. I guess practice doesn't make perfect...or even help you to improve...in any area at all.

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson-Cliche! Goodness, this book is cliche. The writing, wording, thoughts, dialogue...it's awful. Lame, no visuals, trite, sappy, corny and I swear Patterson thinks his readers are idiots. He can't describe a thing if his life depended on it in this book and the voice in this is just plain awful.

The Complete Idiots Guide to Writing a Novel by Thomas F. Monteleone- Boring to start. Not at all informative or inspiring. The "writer" talks down to his readers, spends half of his time griping about how others are stuck up and the other half bragging about his work and what he did and how he did it better or first and how his books became movies. I so wanted to punch him in the mouth....

I have to say though that Pelzer and Patterson did inspire me to continue to write and they do so everyday. If that mush can be published and become a best seller...then this profession should be very easy for me...and for us all.

Nov 17, 2008, 2:30am Top

I really really really REALLY disliked Pledged by Alexandra Robbins. I actually felt guilty sending it off to someone from BookMooch. Silly sensationalist crud.

I was expecting to like this one, but somehow I just could not get into The Last Days of Dogtown. It was one of the very very few books I've started and not finished.

Nov 24, 2008, 9:14pm Top

The Twilight "saga" (shudder) by Stephenie Meyer. At first I was utterly curious why it's so popular. I had a headache trying to read the first book; skipped much of books 2-3; tried to start book 4 but couldn't continue. not just wasted time; wasted trees. (sorry to the fans who like the series.)

Nov 24, 2008, 9:53pm Top

I think it's interesting (curious? odd? misplaced?) to have books such as Pelzer's trashed as "awful Lit" -- it may be poorly written, but it's not poorly written in the same way Dan Brown, Mitch Albom, and others who make a living for their so-called writing talent/skill. Theirs is definitely the greater sin...

Nov 25, 2008, 12:09am Top

169> For one thing, the qualities or lack thereof of Dan Brown do not justify any failures on the behalf of Pelzer; it must stand on its own. For another, surely the "greater sin" is in the eye of the beholder; someone who loves action may greatly prefer the flaws of Brown to the flaws of Pelzer.

166> The Complete Idiots Guide to Writing a Novel by Thomas F. Monteleone ... yeah. Besides the fact that he assumes everyone has the same goal in writing, to produce huge mainstream blockbusters. I probably ought to see if the used bookstore wants a copy.

Nov 25, 2008, 12:31am Top

168> I have to say...I agree..
One of the worst YA books that I read..

Also...St. Augustine's Confessions..
There was a passage somewhere in earlier books..that he felt sorry for himself because he read and cried over Aenied's sorrow...when he should be thinking about God..

I understand his point (after all, he is a 'saint')..but I just wonder..why would he have to feel bad about himself for reading...
(Or...have I completely misinterpreted this part of the passage??)

Nov 25, 2008, 1:24pm Top

Twilight really, really bugged me. I was so irritated by the constant "Oh, I'm a helpless little girl! Someone save me! Oh, I'm really really helpless!" on Bella's part, and the super-creepy "I am a stalker and I will watch you sleep at night" on Edward's part. Um, yes, there's nothing sexier than a stalking, control-freak boyfriend. Healthy relationship material right there!

I'm 19, and it seems like all the girls I know worship this series. I apologize to any fans of the books, but I think they're absolutely dreadful.

Edited: Nov 25, 2008, 2:51pm Top

>172 391:

Slightly OT, but you might like Roger Ebert's review of the movie:


Nov 25, 2008, 3:02pm Top

On Augustine (post #171), I don't have an answer for you. I had to read Confessions for one class and City of God for another, and I will not take any further courses that require Augustine. Enough of him!

Edited: Nov 26, 2008, 5:06am Top

msg 172 I hate the pre-teen cultiness of it. And the conceit of locating it in the rainiest place in the US.

Nov 26, 2008, 5:05am Top

170> Pelzer while a poor writer has a noble cause and is writing to inform but Brown, Ack, is writing poorly for entertainment's sake.

Nov 26, 2008, 11:35am Top

the super-creepy "I am a stalker and I will watch you sleep at night" on Edward's part.

My thoughts exactly, ZanKnits! That completely creeped me out. That's the only incident that I directly remember, but I do remember thinking that this guy bordered on abusive and that Bella made very poor decisions (in my opinion).

ps: I apologize if I insult anyone. :)

Edited: Nov 26, 2008, 12:11pm Top

Naked Lunch.

I'm in the middle of it right now and I'm determined to finish it to please a friend, but dear God, it's so painful. I've no issue with the writing style. I've been swimming in Shakespeare for the last few months and the complete stylist change to stream-of-consciousness is refreshing, but the content is making me increasingly uncomfortable.

Nov 26, 2008, 6:13pm Top

171, 174,

Isn't he the same dude who agonized over stealing a pear as a kid? I've never gotten past the first 3 chapters of The Confessions.

Nov 26, 2008, 8:31pm Top

SandyDog- Oh yeah. That's the one. Those stupid pears caused him agony, and then they caused students agony for 1500 years afterwords. The book doesn't improve after the first three chapters, other than you're closer to the end.

Nov 26, 2008, 10:40pm Top

my sister keeper is that a good book i just now starting i love it so far.
but i a girl how like dark books.

Edited: Nov 28, 2008, 8:11am Top

>181 gleek:, twtwilight: I loved My Sister's Keeper. But then, Jodi Picoult is one of my biggest guilty pleasures :) I'm not sure if I'd consider a MSK a "dark" book, but it's definitely sad and thought provoking. I hope you enjoy it.

Nov 29, 2008, 7:12pm Top

For some reason Alice Munro, a widely respected short story writer, really grates on my nerves. Also the poetry of Sheri-D Wilson ("he ski-doodled, he ski-daddled, he ski-died" - if I recall correctly, about a skidoo death).

Nov 29, 2008, 8:20pm Top

#183: "he ski-doodled, he ski-daddled, he ski-died" - if I recall correctly, about a skidoo death).


On behalf of the skid-doer's family and friends: OUCH! How insensitive and cheesy is that?

Nov 29, 2008, 8:48pm Top

#183: I agree about Alice Munro. I've read two short story collections and never clicked with her writing. It makes me feel so uncultured and oblivious when I say that I don't see the big fuss about someone hailed as the modern Chekhov. :-D

Nov 30, 2008, 12:51am Top

#183, 185: Same here. I've read two short story collections and have been poking at The View from Castle Rock for over a month now. Her writing does not particularly engage me, although I guess I understand why people like her understated style.

Dec 3, 2008, 11:16am Top

Recently I read Truancy because it was written by a teenager who goes to my former high school... and boy-oh-boy does it show. Clichés and Mary Sues, all of them. And now there's a prequel! ::shudder::

Dec 16, 2008, 11:05am Top

I'd pick anything by Hemingway. I can't figure out why he's considered "classic literature" and used in so many high school and college lit courses. I've tried a few novels and short stories, to give him a fair shot, and I just don't get it.

Dec 16, 2008, 6:40pm Top

>188 staceyvinson:

Seriously, I think it helps if you or the literary critic considering Hemingway is male. Joseph Conrad is even worse in this respect, I think--I find him completely unreadable.

Dec 24, 2008, 12:53pm Top

aww, I like Hemmingway, and I'm female...:)

Although I despise some of his stuff. But his short stories? Golden.

Dec 24, 2008, 3:16pm Top

Who couldn't love The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. What a great chick story!

Jan 29, 2009, 11:39am Top

I hated every William Faulkner novel I was forced to read in American Literature in college...pointless and longwinded; why use one word when 17 will do???? I guess the professor was a Faulkner fan b/c we had to read a bunch of them--I remember none of the titles, nor did any of the other novels we read make an impact on me. Just how much I despise Faulkner...still shuddering after 30 years!!

Jan 30, 2009, 2:41am Top

^lol Sandy in lit crit they call that deconstruction.

Feb 27, 2009, 1:45pm Top

I had not read any Carl Hiaasen until last year so I picked up Nature Girl. What garbage. Absolute drivel from start to finish. Wish I could have that time back. He must be the most over-rated hack in America.

Feb 27, 2009, 8:38pm Top

Thanks for the warning JIK, I was just going to pick up Nature Girl from the library. I chose The White Tiger instead and so far it is excellent.

Feb 27, 2009, 9:34pm Top

The Historian because it did not deliver on its potential. As for the Twilight books, I cannot get past the first paragraph of the few I have picked up...I will just leave it at that.

Mar 26, 2009, 11:29am Top

Anything by Mitch Albom. I can't think of anything else right away, but this author's works are always on the top list.

Apr 7, 2009, 12:06am Top

Just finished The Fifth Horseman and I think I'll pass on any other books by this author. I felt like I was reading a kid's book with how short the chapters were. The story also jumped around way too much ... no offense but how does this guy get published?

Apr 19, 2009, 12:12pm Top

Broken Window by Jeffrey Deaver.

According to both the Internet (which is usually an omniscient entity) and the bookjacket, this was supposed to be a high-quality thriller writer with a high-quality thriller written.


You know, I never really understood what writing no-no's like "passive voice" and "tell, not show" would tangibly look like in a book. I only got it as an abstract concept.

I can ruefully tell you that I now know EXACTLY what a passive voice, flat characterization, and telling instead of showing can do to a book.

It was not pretty. Ugha. I stuck through because hey, the Internet said it was good! It had to be good! Come on, the ending must rock!

It didn't. Ugha. Ugha. Ugha! First time ever that I've even considered returning a book and asking for money back.

Apr 19, 2009, 12:12pm Top

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Apr 19, 2009, 12:54pm Top

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

I tried so hard to like this book. I needed something light and fluffy in an attempt to destress before finals. Not a huge fan of most recently published romances out there, but hey, the series seems to be pretty well-regarded. Then 300 pages in the "hero" turned into an abusive ass and there was no redeeming him in my eyes. It's a shame, really. It's such a popular series. Now I'm just confused by the hero's popularity among the readers. Ugh. Simply thinking about that scene makes me mad.

Edited: Apr 20, 2009, 11:01am Top

@ 201: kabrahamson The Gabaldon books are some of my faves but, yes, Jamie is very much an ass throughout most of the first book -- I guess it didn't bother me that much, as I was chalking it up to "18th C man meets/marries 20thC woman". Bound to be some "issues" there, I'd imagine. ;) He does end up redeeming himself in the following books.

@65: basbleu39 Would that be Wild Animus? It was painfully awful. I read the first 1/4 of the book and then bookcrossed it. There are very few books I 've started and not finished, but I just couldn't force myself to read it.

I have to add another book to this:

Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Hated it. Hated Corelli. All the respect I'd built up for Pelagia vanished in the conclusion of their story -- he totally abandoned her for *years* and she forgives him for a goat? He still ends up with a "happy ever after"? I wanted blood -- he got off far too easy. The ending of the book really didn't ring true for me. I'm sorry, but he was more than a few years too late to be rushing in as the dashing hero. :p

Apr 20, 2009, 9:28pm Top

202: Honestly, that's part of what bugged me. I expected a modern woman to do more than huff about it for twenty pages and then forgive him not necessarily because he apologized, but because he gave her a sob story. I'd want Jamie's head on a pike, unfortunate past or no. Granted, I'm an ill-tempered, vindictive individual...

I've got Dragonfly in Amber sitting around and I keep hearing that Jamie gets better in the sequels, so I might give that one a go eventually.

Edited: Apr 21, 2009, 2:08pm Top

Well, she's not really that "modern". She first travels to the past from 1945. :)

Character motivations needs considering, as well. She's travelled back in time 200yrs to a rather "wild" place and without any way of knowing if she's stuck there forever. It probably behooves her to forgive easily in the hopes of building some sort of safety net for herself, I'd think. ;)

May 7, 2009, 5:41pm Top

Tracy Chevalier- lots of potential for her ideas but canned stories and violence not needed in the plot. Also Ariana Franklin, same deal.

May 7, 2009, 10:28pm Top

I actually only read Gabaldons Lord John books and am probably the only person who liked them and didn't even feel tempted to read the Outlander series. I didn't like Jamie, and the more my friends tell me about Claire and the story the less inclined I am to read the books.

Edited: May 8, 2009, 2:05am Top

A book I hated was Don't lets go to the dogs tonight. I think I finished it because my mother and I enjoyed making fun of it. My parents lived in Botswana for 4 years in the early seventies a period covered by this book and I spent 9 months traveling in Africa, so we had some insight on the Rhodesia of that time.

May 8, 2009, 8:20am Top

I read the first three Gabaldon books - Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager. Started Drums of Autumn and got totally bored. The storyline became increasingly strange and unbelievable.

#206 - Rodo I liked Lord John and the Private Matter, haven't read anything else.

May 9, 2009, 10:41am Top

Just finished an Early Review book, How Do I Love Thee? by Nancy Moser. I hope to God that Elizabeth Barrett Browning wasn't as unlikeable and that her life wasn't as boring as this book made them.

May 10, 2009, 12:05pm Top

As long as we are talking about review copies that were awful, I recently finished the worst book I have ever read: PureHeart. Ugh.

May 10, 2009, 1:40pm Top

>210 StormRaven: Really, StormRaven? Tell me more! Perhaps *she says innocently* you wrote a review of it?

May 10, 2009, 3:23pm Top

Yes, yes I did. :) And Bronwen reacted badly to it. The review (I have been told) is amusing. The story of Bronwen's reactions is even more so. Especially now that they have been caught in their own lies.

May 24, 2009, 5:49pm Top

I hated both of those too! Why did so many people like Reading Lolita in Tehran?

Jun 1, 2009, 3:21pm Top

A bunch of kids at school were absolutely RAVING about Ayn Rand. I didn't pay much attention at the time, but when I found a copy of The Fountainhead at the local weekly used book sale, I figured I might as well give it a read and see what all the commotion was about.

Oh man, was that a mistake. I didn't see how it was as deep or as edgy as everyone was saying. It was just boring. It didn't even seem controversial to me. It was boring and dumb and felt like the author was just shoving politics in my face instead of telling a story.

I also hated Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I felt like the author was incredibly smug while writing it or something. That just seemed to be the whole tone of the book. It was also nothing like the amazing musical I saw last year. I really wanted to like it because well, the show was fantastic! But ugh, I don't see what ANYONE saw in that book.

Jun 1, 2009, 3:33pm Top

214> I have yet to make it through a Gregory Maguire book. I've tried--just can't do it. Jasper Fforde affects me the same way.

Jun 1, 2009, 3:36pm Top

215: I can't stand Maguire's writing style. A short story of his popped up in a compilation I purchased, and I couldn't understand why everything else in the book was so good, and that particular story was so awful until I saw the author.

Jun 1, 2009, 4:11pm Top

I also found Maguire smug. I found Wicked to be so disjointed and disloyal to its own characters... it was just strange writing.

Jun 1, 2009, 4:36pm Top

That book tends to be so universally praised, and I didn't like it at all, either. I didn't think the writing was bad, just mediocre, but the bulk of the story didn't seem to have anything to do with Oz and anything that I actually wanted to know (like why whatshername was green, etc) was never actually explained.

Edited: Jun 2, 2009, 3:19pm Top

I can't believe I read/scanned The Lady of the Lost and Found by Diane Schoemperlen. It was highly recommended by a friend of my mother's who had made good recommendations in the past. This is about living (present day) with the Blessed Virgin Mary, in disguise, as a guest in your house...

Jun 3, 2009, 1:58am Top

The premise sounds interesting enough. Your description made me think of Good Omens. (However, that book isn't in the slightest bit serious, so...maybe it's actually a horrible idea.)

Was it boring? Or just awfully written?

Jun 8, 2009, 10:51am Top

#213 Shanjan - I couldn't even finish Reading Lolita in Tehran.

I was very unhappy with People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I found it shallow and really disliked the main character Hanna AND her mother. I went to bookclub to discuss the book last night and was the only person there who didn't absolutely love it. Blech.

Edited: Jul 23, 2009, 9:55am Top

The Return by Bentley Little-------horrible!! I won't even pick up a book from the same author. I know that's horrible, but the book was that bad.
Oh yeah and Strangers by Dean Koontz, however, I think his was more of just an experimental mess up, so I've given him other chances and he's made up for it :)

Edited: Sep 18, 2009, 8:55pm Top

Two books that stand out most are probably Tara Road by Maeve Binchy and The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. I have to say I was actually angry after finishing these books. How did these books become so popular?

I also stopped reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Eggers and On the Road by Kerouac, both of which I get a hard time for.

I would like to say, however, that I liked White Teeth, Special Topics in Calamity Physics and The Fountainhead.

Nov 9, 2011, 10:34pm Top

I'm suddenly reminded of The House of Sand and Fog. At first I just thought it was a book full of perfect sentences. Then I got towards the end and everyone just went off the rails. It's a really bad book dressed up with lovely writing.

Nov 10, 2011, 9:37am Top

224> That one is second from the top on my Most-Hated list (first is The Bridges of Madison County). Talk about a book making one angry . . . !

Nov 10, 2011, 10:08am Top

>225 Cariola: - that novel definitely deserves its number one spot. Almost as bad as the novel itself was people telling me how wonderful it was and I would think that too if I 'understood' it.

Nov 10, 2011, 11:03am Top

226> That last remark is definitely worth a snort--what's to "understand"? It's a melodramatic, manipulative, hackneyed story, extremely badly written. I couldn't believe that it was a best-seller for so long (not to mention the sequels).

Nov 13, 2011, 10:52am Top

>227 Cariola: There are sequels? The things one learns on LT! (I shall not be seeking them out--to be honest, didn't read the first book, but saw the movie. I get the idea.)

Edited: Jan 28, 2012, 6:37pm Top

Not that I would ever defend Bridges of Madison County, I can understand why it would be popular. It's marriage porn: lonely housewife, an outsider (Italian), home alone, gets a visit from the PERFECT MAN, hanky-panky ensues, and he leaves.
Just like that horrible The Horse Whisperer. God I hated that book.

Jan 28, 2012, 10:14pm Top

I usually just say I don't like being manipulated by an author, though I suppose all writers are trying to evoke a certain emotion or thought from readers--but I guess what I hate is being bludgeoned over the head in the author's pursuit of making me feel that emotion. I rebel against that, so while some readers/movie viewers are sobbing, I'm either laughing or shrugging in indifference.

Jan 29, 2012, 1:54pm Top

I couldn't finish The Horse Whisperer, but I think it was as much the fact that I had a young child and at that time in my life I couldn't read anything about children getting hurt or dying.

Feb 11, 2012, 5:38pm Top

(230) ejj1955-that's why I never go to Stephen Spielberg movies.

Feb 12, 2012, 1:05pm Top

>232 groovykinda: Oh, dear . . . must confess I like some of them, none better than Jaws. Watch that practically every time I come across it on TV. So maybe I like to be manipulated sometimes after all?!

Edited: Feb 17, 2012, 12:12pm Top

Orlando by Virginia Woolf. Drivel disguised as great writing. Several good metaphors and similes, and one truly great description of the vibrant 18th century giving way to the gray and muted 19th century. Now at least I can say I've read one of Virginia Woolf's novels. No more. Guilt-free Virginia Woolf-lessness.

Feb 16, 2012, 5:33pm Top

233 Jaws is awesome. He was really good, in the day.

I was reminded of another book I loathed the other day: The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice. Talk about a series going off the rails.

Feb 18, 2012, 1:46pm Top

235, YES! I hated that book! I do have to say I did like The Tale of the Body Theif and Memnoch the Devil. I wasn't crazy about The Witching Hour either. I feel like its a hit or a miss with Anne Rice.

Feb 19, 2012, 8:10pm Top

>234 karenmarie:

Yes, but certainly the most strange and entertaining of her works.

I'd rather drive a pen in my eye, than re-read To the Lighthouse or Mrs. Dalloway

Feb 19, 2012, 8:26pm Top

234, 237 -- I hated Virginia Woolf when I first had to read her. Thought she was pretentious and silly. But I kept having to read her, and she grew on me. Now she's one of my very favourite writers, if not my number one favourite. But she's definitely an acquired taste. I'm always surprised when someone tells me they loved her the first time they read her.

Feb 20, 2012, 8:46am Top

238> I loved Mrs. Dalloway the first time I read it; her others, not so much.

Feb 20, 2012, 10:29am Top

#239 - Ah, okay, I have to adjust my statement--maybe from you I'm not surprised. But I'm also pretty sure you're way smarter than me ;-)

Feb 20, 2012, 1:47pm Top

I'd rather drive a pen in my eye,...... good description of the choice I'd take over reading any of Woolf.

I'm just a philistine when it comes to VW.

Orlando was strange. Perhaps at another time in my life when I was a "different" person, it might have made a good read, but not now. Ah well.

Feb 21, 2012, 10:16am Top

I'm kind of in the middle on Virginia Woolf--remember liking the books I read but it didn't stretch to love.

On the other hand, hated Anne Rice with a passion: read Interview with a Vampire and will join in the putting out of my eyes with a pen rather than read anything else by her. I'm as big a fan of vampires as anyone, from Buffy to Angel to True Blood, but I was repulsed by the way she described the sucking of blood so sensuously. My overall reaction to her work was "euwww."

Feb 22, 2012, 10:42pm Top

I just finished Three Lives by Gertrude Stein. I can see why its important to literature but I haven't hated a book that much in quite a while.

Edited: Jul 29, 2012, 6:40pm Top

The movie version of Orlando was pretty good. I'll be back when I can remember who the star was.

eta - Aha. Tilda Swinton, probably the first time I saw her and knew she would make it big. I read the book after seeing her in the movie. The movie was better. ;0

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