The Clunkers of 2007

TalkWhat Are You Reading Now?

Join LibraryThing to post.

The Clunkers of 2007

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

Dec 1, 2007, 8:17pm

Again, I'm early setting up this thread, there's a whole month of possible clunkers ahead us! Post when you are ready.

What were the 2007 clunkers for you? the books you just couldn't get through, the ones you threw across the room, or the books you finished but really disliked. Go ahead, tell us how you really feel:-)

This list is almost as much fun as the 'best of" list.

Dec 1, 2007, 8:38pm

In reviewing my list of books read in 2007, I find only one listed that I set aside. That was Ice by Vladmir Sorokin (touchstone not coming up). While the premise of this Russian thriller was interesting, I thought the gratuitous violence was a bit over the top. I sent it off to a happy BookMoocher.

Dec 1, 2007, 9:38pm

The *absolute* worst book I read this year was The truth about Hillary : What she knew, When she knew it, and How far she'll go to become president. It seemed as if it were written by someone, Edward Klein in this case, with a personal vendetta against Hillary. Truthfully, this book was worse for me than reading The National Enquirer.

Throwing this book against a wall would have been too good for it. I would have like to personally rip out each page, separately and painfully. Unfortunately, I could not do that. It was a library CD.

Dec 1, 2007, 11:22pm

The Nature of Air and Water by Regina McBride. I generally love Irish novels, but this one was real drek. The author couldn't quite decide if she was writing soft porn or one of those hokey "mystical" things, so we got too much of both.

La Cucina by Lily Prior. Another one masquerading as something it was not. 1) Not an interesting story. 2) Not at all like Like Water for Chocolate, as its cover proclaimed. Formulaic sex scenes with little plot, an unlikeable main character, and food porn thrown in for good measure.

Dec 1, 2007, 11:31pm

Wow, for the whole year? Not sure I can remember them all rofl...

Falconer by John Cheever was quite possibly the worst fiction book I've ever attempted to read. Really quite horrible, I'm straining to remember any redeeming qualities.

I actually managed to finish Flight: A Play by Mikhail Bulgakov, but only because it was so short. Ultimately, it felt very pointless to me, just a waste of an afternoon reading that one.

I was really disappointed in Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis. It wasn't amongst the worst I've read, but it was a bigger disappointment, I think because I expected so much out of it.

Finally, for non-fiction, I've spent this semester teaching out of what is quite possibly the most inane, disgracefully inept joke of a textbook I've ever encountered in my life. I won't be reviewing it until the semester is done and I'm no longer employed by the department that actually chose to subject 30 sections of intro students (yeah, that's 900 kids) to this torture, but Landscape of Wisdom by Christopher Biffle is the biggest disgrace of a philosophy text that I've ever had the misfortune to encounter. But I'm not bitter, honest ;)

Edited: Dec 1, 2007, 11:36pm

44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith. I listened to this one on audio, so I was doubly perturbed by the reader. The book felt pieced together; it was supposed to be a mystery, but there really wasn't much of one; the characters were unlikeable; it was just a mess of a comedy of errors. The reader did a horrible job with women's voices. I've read a couple of his books set in Africa and mildly enjoyed them, but I don't know that I'll be reading any more of his books.

Edited in hopes of getting touchstones to work.

Dec 2, 2007, 12:05am

#6 teelgee, the wrong reader can really kill an audiobook. One irritated me so much that I wrote down his name to avoid him in the future. I can't comment on AMS as I haven't read any of his novels. But I have read several really bad reviews of this particular one.

Dec 2, 2007, 12:15am

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud was a major disappointment. The story just didn't flow and I developed no interest in the characters. I only finished it because it was for a book group--and none of us cared for the book!

Thanks to so many great LT suggestions I think this is about the only clunker for the year!

Dec 2, 2007, 12:21am

Most books I don't like because they are boring. If there is another reason that I hate it it usually means that the plot is still ok enough for me to keep reading.

Boring books this year (purely my opinion):
Book Lover Jennifer Kaufman
Story about a woman who breaks up with her husband and is now living alone. She just happens to like reading too. Most irritating thing about this book is that I didn't feel sympathetic towards the woman at all. In real life a person can't live in a high end apartment reading books in the bathtub and buying whatever they want when they want. In real life people have to work to earn money to survive.

Dracula Bram Stoker
*yawn* I made the mistake of expecting to be thrilled/horrified by this famous novel about a Vampire in Transylvania. Sadly it was a real bore.

The Secret Life of Bees Sue Monk Kidd
This book was too slow and needed some 'oomph'

The Crimson Petal and the White Michael Faber
I felt like the story was supposed to be amazing but wasn't? Slammerkin was much better!

Wild Lavender Belinda Alexandra
Very boring and meandering story.

The Loves of Charles II Jean Plaidy
I didn't even finish this one! I bought it because I wanted to read another Philippa Gregory but had read them all and I had read Victoria Victorious by Plaidy and quite liked it. This one was very boring, considering it was dealing with the Restoration I thought it was a poor effort.

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
I know a lot of people *loved* this when it came out but I thought it was rather pointless?

Dec 2, 2007, 4:34am

The ones that stand out for me right now for this year's reads are:

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
just really complex and too much for me to get settled into.

Loving I've had about enough of Danielle Steel's whiny cry-baby characters that just cannot seem to get it together.

Coming Out Another Steel book that left me wondering what the whole point was. Is this what people with money worry about? Really?

Border Fire This book got lost in the Irish and old English phrasing and really just overdid the whole thing. I felt suffocated by slang and no purpose.

Dec 2, 2007, 4:39am

I actually have a lot of books I either loathed or couldn't finish this year, and that's pretty unusual. I read Wuthering Heights and really could not understand the enduring appeal of it. These were my thoughts as I was reading it:

Whatever the genius of its author (quite considerable genius, in fact) Wuthering Heights is an unpleasant book about unpleasant people, as I am remembering to my dismay. I have tried reading it numerous times over the years, but I can't recall ever actually finishing it. Perhaps this is because I have blotted out the memory. I will finish it this time, and then I will never pick it up again. The only good thing about it is that the mean, miserable characters all get the suffering they deserve. If I didn't find them and their story so repulsive, I might be able to enjoy the technical merits of the book, but the fact is that as I turn the pages I'm glad the thing doesn't have much more than 300 of them and that's about as far as I consider it.

And I know it was supposed to be funny, but The Last Witchfinder exasperated me beyond endurace. This was my comment about it when I finally rid myself of it (some *SPOILERS* here if you care):

I absolutely lost my patience with this book on page 332 when, having only just survived a shipwreck and still floating in the middle of the Atlantic on a raft of wreckage, the two main characters decide the thing to do is HAVE SEX. When you add that one of the main characters is BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, I say that's it. The only consolation would have been if the main character had died an excruciatingly painful death as a witch when she had the chance. That would have been justice. But no. Survives to the end and even bears Ben Franklin's love child, for God's sake. What a grand old waste of time that was.

I totally gave up on Inkheart more than halfway through. I know everyone loves it but I just could not bring myself to care about anybody in it. And on the topic of books everyone loves, I only forced myself to finish the last Harry Potter book because I couldn't stand the idea of having read them all and finally being defeated by the very last one.

My last clunker for the year was The Rise and Fall of the Sacred Band of Thebes, which I really wanted to like! But it wasn't much better than half-way decent fan-fiction and I just couldn't get that excited about it.

Dec 2, 2007, 8:06am

Thanks to being a member of LT and other online book sites, I have become a more discerning reader this year, which means not too many duds. However, I did come across a few that didn't do it for me in 2007:

1) Tipperary - I received this as an early reviewer from LT. I only rated it a half-star. Clumsy narration, Forrest Gump antics on the part of the main character and a ton of ill-placed Irish history left me begging for a pint of Irish ale.

2) Middlesex - Oh, I know I am in the majority with this book, but I really didn't like it. I grew impatient with the long-winded stories about Callie's grandparents and parents. Get on with it, for Pete's sakes.

3) Ahab's Wife - If ever a story needed a sharp axe and a good editor, this would be the one. The story had some wonderful parts, but it would have been so much more enjoyable at 250-300 pages. And I grew weary of the imitation Melville language.

4) Ladder of Years - Usually Anne Tyler is a "reading pleasure guarantee" for me, but this story was more Janet Dailey or Nora Roberts than Tyler. Tyler's characters and stories usually dwell in the "real" - people and situations that you can really believe in. Sadly, that wasn't the case for this book.

Avaland, thanks for starting this thread! I feel so much better now! =)

Dec 2, 2007, 9:51am

For the most part, I don't read books that I have a strong feeling I'm not going to like, and I definitely don't finish books I'm not enjoying. This year especially, because my reading time as been constrained by Real Life, I've concentrated on books I was pretty sure I'd like.

But I have to agree with CEP (#8) about The Emperor's Children, which I read last year. I finished it because I was going to have the opportunity to hear the author speak, but I found it incredibly annoying, especially given all the hype.

Edited: Dec 2, 2007, 10:30am

The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

Granted, it's a kids book and probably if I were a kid I would get something out of it (however, I'm an avid reader of kids/YA books, and can tell the difference between a well-written book and one that's not) and quite frankly, I'm embarrassed to say that I read this book. The author tried to take every element from every popular kids book and cram it all into this one book, that ended up with no direction, and no ending (seriously, no ending...). It was so bad, I took it back to the store after I read it

Tipperary by Frank Delaney

I received this as part of the LT ER program, and having LOVED his previous novel, Ireland, I was anxious to read it. However, I couldn't even make it 200 pages in. It was just a huge jumbled mess of a book; bad narration, ridiculous characters, sporadic jumping between the view points of various characters. It was as if Delaney just couldn't decide what direction he wanted to take the book, so just kept writing, hoping it would all come together. An unfortunate case of a great author writing a not-so-great book.

Dec 2, 2007, 10:42am

#12 mrstreme, Tipperary sit on my TBR shelf and may getpushed to the back of the closet after readingyour comments. I have to agree with you on all the rest that you mention. I really enjoyed Ahab's Wife--for about the first half, then it just droned on. Ladder of Years was the last Anne Tyler I read. I was so disappointed that I haven't bothered to pick up her more recent work.

#9 kiwiflowa, I enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White overall, although it really dragged at times, and I agree that Slammerkin was better!

Dec 2, 2007, 10:51am

The Wild Irish - Robin Maxwell

Horrible book. Full of historical improbabilities and emo Elizabethans. Yuck.

Zorro - Isabel Allende

I didn't hate this one, but I was very disappointed by its flat, undeveloped characters, especially remembering Allende's previous works.

The Innocent - Posie Graeme-Evans

Atrocious writing, lame plot, way too much sexual abuse that isn't even used for anything in that lame plot, and lovers that see each other and immediately begin to weep and sigh because of their feelings. I gave it away.

Books that I hated for a class which has convinced me that I simply do not like modernism:

Portrait of the Artist as a young Man - James Joyce
Murphy - Samuel Beckett
The Third Policeman - Flann O'Brien

I recognize that some people love these books. I do not. I don't like requiring literary criticism to understand a work. I like it better when I can understand a work on the surface on its own and then use literary criticism/theory to go deeper and understand more.

Luminous Cities - Eduardo Garcia Aguilar

This was my dud ER book. Mostly bad stories with no point, very far from the book's description on the back, chock full of orgies and violence. No thank you. A few of the stories were decent, but not nearly enough to get me to like the book.

Whew! Sorry if that was overly critical. =)

Dec 2, 2007, 11:04am

I will agree with 14 and 12 - Tipperary was also a clunker for me this year, for the reasons you stated. I found the coincidences just too much to bear.

Dec 2, 2007, 11:08am

In no particular order, these are the worst books I’ve read or attempted to read this year. 2 stars or fewer from me.

Evil Inc. by Glenn Kaplan. Stuck with it for the unintentional hilarity brought on by extremely bad writing.

The Overnight by Ramsey Campbell. Boring. Tedious. Badly set up. Poorly executed.

Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis. Author suffers from delusions of grandeur.

Codexby Lev Grossman. Bad characters, bad plot, boring story that ends in a whimper.

Because She Can by Bride Clark. The Devil Wears Prada but with books. Yawn. Cutesy and melodramatic.

With a Tangled Skein by Piers Anthony. Mysoginistic BS wrapped in fantasy. Repetitive. Repetitive. Repetitive. Repetitive. Repetitive.

The Tenth Justice by Brad Meltzer. Brad thinks he’s a clever boy now doesn’t he?

Dec 2, 2007, 11:49am

Unfortunately , my worst book is Luminous Cities with Tipperary a close second. Both were Early Reviewers copies. I love the programme, but the books sent to me were not the best.
Books that I was disappointed in. ( and took with on a recent trip and left in the hotel's library)
Through a Glass Darkly by Donna Leon-some of the details were interesting but the plot was slow moving.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield I know some LT'ers loved this book- I like the way the author told the story but I found the characters unbelievable and the plot clumsy.
In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant I was prepared to really like this book but at the end - I didn't like the plot.
Other bad books from the earlier part of the year.
The Rose Grower by Michelle de Kretser- bad plot and clumsy writing.
Riding in Cars with Boys by Beverley Donofrio- jumpy story -had some potential.

Dec 2, 2007, 12:29pm

The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall - It was horribly overwritten pap. Just over the top with the descriptions, the metaphors, the profundity wrung from the simplest scenes, the ponderous commentary, did I mention the melodramatic, horrible metaphors? I couldn't believe it got shortlisted for the Man Booker.

I promptly bartered it at a used book store

Crystal Rain by Tobias S. Buckell - The online SF community fell all over this book. I thought it started out well, a fun swashbuckling adventure type thing, but I lost interest in the middle and couldn't bother to continue. Just wasn't compelling. I still have it though, in the hopes that I'll return to it and get what everyone else liked.

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay - I don't like conventionally written historical fiction. I reached the middle of the book and sighted no glimmer of anything fantastical. Lots of market scenes and descriptions of odours and brightly coloured clothing though. Bleargh.

I am a Kay fan so again, the bookmark is still placed in this one.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (What is up with the author touchstones?) - The Proust chapter was good enough but I didn't see what was so exciting about a book that amounted to a personalised Cliff Notes. It was also fated to be bartered.

Dec 2, 2007, 12:49pm

I am almost relieved to see Tipperary appear on some of the clunker lists here. I really thought it was me!

Edited: Dec 2, 2007, 1:06pm

Little Children - Tom Perotta. A movie was made of this why? I kept waiting for something original to happen, but it was just another suburban domestic drama. No depth. Why read this when you can have Margaret Atwood, John Updike, Richard Ford etc., etc?

Until I Find You - John Irving. Irving is like Fleetwood Mac, any given work is either really good or it's dreck. This book was a major disappointment. After I'd read A Widow for One Year, I thought, "Irving hasn't lost it." But this's about a boy obsessed with his penis. Come on, John, aren't we past this?

Trace - Patrica Cornwell. Man, has she lost it. This was easily the worst book I read in 2007. Cornwell and I are through.

Dec 2, 2007, 1:10pm

Crime and Punishment -- I know I am seriously in the minority, but I seriously hated this. I put it down years ago and decided this would be the year I would finally read it, and I stuck to that, but doubt I will go back to Dostoyevsky at least not for a very long time. The psychological realism did not work for me, on the contrary Raskolnikov seemed incomprehensible. And I found it seriously preachy, which doesn't work very well when you disagree with the point being preached.

Sophie's World -- I didn't hate this one by any means but it wasn't anywhere near what I had hoped it would be. I got the feeling the translation wasn't so hot, some of the prose seemed a bit stilted.

Eragon -- I'm sure children and young teens wouldn't have many complaints about this, and I did think the story was fun, but Paolini could have used an editor with some more backbone to tighten things up a bit.

The Golden Compass -- I don't normally read young adult or fantasy, and maybe I should keep it that way. The characterization in this just wasn't up to snuff.

The Difference Engine -- I was excited about this one as I'm intrigued by alternate histories, but something in the execution was a little off. And the ending seemed a bit like the authors just didn't quite know how to wrap things up.

Complaining about 5 out of 109 is pretty good, though!

Dec 2, 2007, 1:59pm

littlebookworm, I'm sorry to see two more books on my TBR shelf in your list of clunkers! I kind of expected it from Robin Maxwell, but I had hoped for more from The Innocent. Those two get shuttled to the back of the closet.

Dec 2, 2007, 2:22pm

In the order I read them:

The Stud by Jackie Collins - I usually find her work a lot of fun, in a very trashy way, but this was all trash and no fun. Blah.

Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers - it wasn't bad so much as unworthy of a third read. I gave up on it about halfway through.

Minion by L.A. Banks - probably the worst thing I read this year. The writing was just terrible. I'm still not sure why I finished it.

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence - I didn't care about a single character, so I abandoned it at the end of Part I.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson - I was expecting lots of action and adventure. I found it boring. I mean, the main characters defeat the pirates by virtue of their moral superiority??? GAH!

The Troll King by John Vornholdt - I think I might have liked it better if I'd read it when I was six, but now it just seemed silly and poorly-developed.

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville - I really, really wanted to like it, but I just couldn't. I actively hated all the main characters. The setting left a bad taste in my mouth. And yet, I slogged through about three hundred pages before I finally called it quits.

The Live-Forever Machine by Kenneth Oppel - I expected something really wonderful from the author of Silverwing and Airborn. This definitely wasn't it.

To Ride Hell's Chasm by Janny Wurts - I feel badly about this, since the author is on LibraryThing, but the style just didn't work for me. The story seemed interesting, but I couldn't get involved with any of the characters or with their world. I gave up after a hundred pages.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman - another one that wasn't bad so much as disappointing.

The Hippopotamus Marsh by Pauline Gedge - I've loved everything else I've read by this author, but this one just didn't do it for me. I gave it about a hundred and fifty pages, then bailed.

Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian - again: not bad, just disappointing. I'd heard so much about how O'Brian developed this amazing friendship between his two main characters, but I just didn't feel it. I do think I learned quite a lot about ships, though.

Dec 2, 2007, 6:20pm

I checked my reading list and through this weekend, I'd read exactly 100 books this year, and while there's a clunker or two on my list, I thought it was an exceptionally fine reading year, so very fine, in fact, that I feel rather petty in carping about the wee handful that were disappointing. Nevertheless, here are the un-favorites I came up with, the ones I'd prefer to get my money back for:

- An Arsonist's Guide To Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke was the complete suck-meister this year, poorly contrived, completely un-funny, and embarrassingly over-hyped.

- Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace was another over-hyped mess, the epitome of a promising premise gone bad; relentlessly grim, boring, and a major let-down.

- Ken Follett's World Without End was so beyond stupid that I'm sure I'm losing IQ points by even mentioning it.

Those were the prominent offenders, but a few others either didn't work for me at all, or I just only mildly hated them: Rupert Thomson's Death of a Murderer was no more than medium-grade piffle, as was Jane Smiley's total waste-of-time Ten Days in the Hills; A.L. Kennedy's Day was grossly ill-conceived, right along with the dumbest post-apocalyptic novel I've ever read, Jim Crace's The Pest House. And to end on a more positive note, my favorite fiction and non-fiction are always listed on my Profile page, and I can heartily recommend any one of them to readers from every corner.

Dec 2, 2007, 6:25pm

I hate to say it but my worst book of the year by far was also an LT early reviewer book -- The River Wife by Jonis Agee. Drivel.

Dec 2, 2007, 6:45pm

Louis (#26), so sad--I was hoping An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England was going to be as good as it looked.

Dec 2, 2007, 7:02pm

Louis (#26), Although I am a big Jane Smiley fan, I just had a feeling I wasn't going to like Ten Days in the Hills so I didn't buy it. But I may break down when it comes out in paperback.

Dec 2, 2007, 8:55pm

My clunker of the year is one that I just finished reading: Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell. The Kay Scarpetta series, which I loved when it first came out, just continues to go downhill. I don't know that I will bother with the next one. All I can say good about this one was that I did not buy it, but rather checked it out of the library.

Dec 3, 2007, 11:34am

I really hated The Black Dahlia. I can't even name exactly what it was about it, but I didn't like it at all.
Also, and I know I'm in a serious minority here, but I didn't like A Confederacy of Dunces. I just felt really disappointed in it and it took me a long time to get through because it felt like a chore to read.

Dec 3, 2007, 11:42am

#31, bookworm12, I just wanted to let you know you are not alone. I HATED A Confederacy of Dunces, which I tried to read when it first came out and was much touted -- couldn't get through it.

Dec 3, 2007, 11:47am

Thanks rebeccanyc! It's nice to know I'm not the only one.

Dec 3, 2007, 12:12pm

I've happily not read many disappointing books this year, though I still haven't finished Dune (no touchstone) which I started in February cos I got cross with it and threw it across the room. But I might try to finish it before the year is out just because so many people say it's great.

The two books I read and really thought weren't worth the time were The Devil in Amber which was upsetting because the first Lucifer Box novel was quite good fun. The Devil in Amber was just overblown rubbish. The second was Stormbreaker, which to be fair is YA, but really. It was such implausibly clichéd tripe. Though I suppose it had one redeeming feature, which was that I could read the particularly bad bits out to my husband and share the pain.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics was an OK read, but I found it pretty disappointing, given all the hype. Especially because when we finally got to the much touted murder it rapidly degenerated into a rubbish conspiracy. A bit like Stormbreaker. But with fewer clichés, so less funny.

35kirstenr First Message
Dec 3, 2007, 12:24pm

I haven't seen anyone mention this one. I just read it a month ago - Eat, Pray, Love. I thought it sounded like such a cool premise, and she just didn't do anything with it. She was completely self-absorbed, and had to travel all the way to far-off countries to learn how to be her own person (not that I'm sure she succeeded, by my definition).

Dec 3, 2007, 12:36pm

My clunkers this year were: The Road --I thought it was very very depressing not to mention boring. Eat, Pray, Love (agree w/ Kirstenr) was very very boring in spots, especially after she left Italy and she was so whiny and self centered I couldn't stand it. Tipperary as with others listed above a huge disappointment as well. I too could not finish it. And lastly On Chesil Beach was painfully boring and I cannot imagine why all the hype.

Dec 3, 2007, 12:59pm

The most disappointing book for me was Shadow of the Wind. I thought the premise sounded both interesting and fun, but it just dragged on and on. I found the writing flat and the characters unbelievable. It would have been maybe okay if it had been 140 pages long.

Dec 3, 2007, 1:10pm

Ones that were so bad I couldn't even finish them:
The Lost Continent -after reading two other books by Bill Bryson I started picking up anything I could find by him. This one did not measure up.
The Historian-BORING!
Why Men don't Iron-just flat-out poorly written and researched.

Ones I did finish, but were still bad:
The Mommy Wars
Not Buying It
The Tent I love LOVE Margaret Atwood, so this was a major disappointment for me
Special Topics in Calamity Physics-the entire book felt like it was written by the writers of the Gilmore Girls. It got old.
The Making of the Potterverse-sigh-a book about Harry Potter that was dull and disappointing...

Dec 3, 2007, 1:19pm

--> 36
My clunkers this year were: The Road --I thought it was very very depressing not to mention boring.

This just goes to show how people's opinions differ. I *loved* The Road. I consider that book my best read of 2007 so far. I recommended it to my husband who absolutely hated it and refused to finish it, also considering it too depressing to read. :)

Dec 3, 2007, 1:28pm

#37 - Another example of how people view books differently. The Shadow of the Wind will probably top my list of the best books I've read this year. I've recommended it to everybody, and even bought it as a gift twice this year! It captured me from the first couple of pages, and I was sad when I finished reading it.

Dec 3, 2007, 2:08pm

>37 Nickelini: and 40
I'm with tapestry100. The Shadow of the Wind will probably be one of my top 5 books of the year. I loved it!

Dec 3, 2007, 2:17pm

Can I just gush a little bit about LT? It's so lovely that a thread like this can exist with such widely varying opinions and yet be not only not hostile in any way, but even manage to remain friendly and welcoming. I know I'm preaching to the choir, so to speak, but, {sigh}, I just love LT (and all you LTers)!

Dec 3, 2007, 2:32pm

#36 And lastly On Chesil Beach was painfully boring and I cannot imagine why all the hype.

I did not expect to like this book--a whole book about a failed wedding night back in the 1960s? But it ended up being one of my favorites of the year. It was an unassuming, introspective little book that crept up on me and stayed with me for weeks. No big action or monumental scenes--but that's often the way the things that shape our lives happen. I expect this one resonated more with people my age (I'm about the same age as McEwan) than with younger readers.

Dec 3, 2007, 2:37pm

#43 Cariola, you know after saying my clunkers I have to say I may one day go back and re-read them and who knows I may even like them. I did that w/ Lovely Bones. I really disliked it when I first read it, but re-read it a couple years later and enjoyed it. So I might like On Chesil Beach if I end up re-reading it in maybe a year or two. Sometimes its just what mood you are in that can sway you on a book.

Dec 3, 2007, 2:58pm

>44 momom248: I agree, momom248. I'm a Barbara Kingsolver fan but I really disliked Prodigal Summer. I haven't heard of anyone else who disliked it. It's on my re-read list now, I may have been in a bad place when I read it and really want to give it another chance.

Dec 3, 2007, 3:11pm

I have to agree with LizT (#34) and kaelirenee (#38) about Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I read it last year and thought it tried much too hard to be clever for the sake of being clever.

As for On Chesil Beach (#36 momom248), I read an excerpt in the New Yorker and knew I wouldn't like the book.

And ditto for teelgee (#45), I couldn't read past the first ten pages of Prodigal Summer.

Dec 3, 2007, 3:15pm

No doubt in my mind. I absolutely hated Running With Scissors--one of the few reviews I've written.

Also dreck-- The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing which I thought had an interesting title and the cover showed a little girl dressed in red plaid outside clothes. I imagined it was going to be a story about a liberated, outdoorsy sort. Sadly the only hunting and fishing was for a man and it was the standard tale of lonley girl looking for a guy to save her.

I did get through The Pilot's Wife but it's on my looking for a new home trade list.

These three are enough to make me swear off touted contemporary reads.

Dec 3, 2007, 3:49pm

#46 I didn't read the excerpt you mention. There were certain parts of On Chesil Beach that raised an 'ick factor,' if you will, as I read it. But that was what made my response to the ending all the more surprising.

Dec 3, 2007, 3:54pm

The most disappointing book recently for me was My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. The overall narrative was good, even though I am not a fan of differing 1st person narrators. It was the ending that I found abrupt and unsatisfying.

Dec 3, 2007, 4:35pm

Yeah, I couldn't finish Shadow of the Wind - But I think I would have really liked this book about ten years ago.

Dec 3, 2007, 6:50pm

Could not finish The Innocent Man by Grisham. I felt like he was trying to make it more thrilling than it really was, and for some reason the actions of the investigators seemed really inept to me. I like Grisham's fiction much better.

Nothing else I really disliked this year, although I did get a few 'meh's.

Dec 3, 2007, 7:09pm

Sadly I tried to read House of Leaves this year. I just cannot believe how bad that book was. What a mistake. I learned one lesson from it - post modern novels are not for me.

Recently I tried The Devil in the White City. It was quite disappointing to find the story dragging by the time I hit the third chapter or so. Such a good premise for a book but such a poor execution. It's too bad.

Dec 3, 2007, 7:31pm

</I>#38 wrote: The Historian-BORING!

Wow! I'm in the middle of that book right now and absolutely loving it. And I have to say I liked The Shadow of the Wind too. Funny how much we bibliophiles vary in our tastes.

Let's see, what have I read this year that I hated... I haven't had too many clunkers, actually. I read a lot of classics and books recommended by people with very similar tastes, so a lot of stuff I wouldn't like is already weeded out.

I did put down The Art Thief after 12 pages. The writing was so pretentious, all isolated sentences as if the author was trying to make some profound point. And it was a bit hard to follow, too elliptically cryptic.

Dec 3, 2007, 7:57pm

I have read about 60 books so far this year. Here are the ones that I really didn't like or absolutely hated:

Fried Green Tomatoes - I was really disappointed in this since I love the movie but maybe that is why I didn't like the book. This was the first book that I read this year and was very unhappy that I didn't like it and that it took me so long to read.

Southern Cross by Patricia Cornwell - this was not a Kay Scarpetta novel and I think it was out quite a while ago - it was absolutely horrible and I hated it.

The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve - this may be the worst book I read this year because of the ending alone. I actually threw the book across the room when I was finished with it.

Because It is Bitter and Because It is My Heart by Joyce Carol Oates - this started out really good but then pretty much stunk the rest of the book.

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult - an early book by her - more like a Danielle Steele and Jackie Collins than Jodi Picoult

Paula Spencer by Roddy Doyle - I found this boring.

That is it so far.

Dec 3, 2007, 8:10pm

The book I disliked the absolute most in 2007 is The Losers by David Eddings. There are a few more that I didn't like very much, but that would be my top clunker.

Dec 3, 2007, 8:55pm

>27 jhowell:: jhowell, like you my least favorites were early reviewer books: Identical Strangers, and The Jewel Trader of Pegu. I don't think the early reviewer program is at fault, per se. I often choose what to read based on these LT threads, and the Early Reviewer books inherently lack that exposure.

The other book I despised this year was Rest in Pieces. I guess I don't like books "written by" cats.

Edited: Dec 3, 2007, 9:24pm

Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir irritated me to no end. Only made it a quarter of the way through. I had never read a Bryson I didn't like until now. Just got way too "oh life was so much better then"... sure life was so much better back in 1950s Iowa if you were white and male. Yuck.

And the other one, which I had such high expectation for because the author is compared in more than one place to Tom Robbins, Duncan Delaney and the Cadillac of Doom. Oh my goodness. What a terrible waste of tree. The story is so prissy and proper and not at all Tom Robbins-esque.

Dec 4, 2007, 9:15am

>52 Phlox72:-Phlox, Thank goodness I'm not the only one who had the same problems with House of Leaves. I love his sister's music, but I couldn't get into his book. God forbid he use the plot to be creative rather than doing crazy things with fonts and other stunts.

Dec 4, 2007, 9:20am

#52 & 58: I have House of Leaves on my TBR shelves. My bff gave it to me with all sorts of post-its sticking out of it, which he said are meant to help me get through the book. I'm interested and a little nervous, but I haven't felt like I have it in me to make the attempt yet. Maybe over summer break (a long way away, I know...) I feel like I won't like it, since I usually don't react well to Po-Mo-for-Po-Mo's Sake sort of stuff.

Dec 4, 2007, 11:52am

I can think of four off the top of my head:

The Key to Midnight by Dean Koontz - What's the point of a thriller with so few thrills? Not only is it full of dumb cliches and dull characters, but it's padded out with too many passages that contribute nothing to the story.

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk - Palahniuk goes for heartfelt and lands straight in sentimentality. Too contrived. Too clunky. With a narrator/main character a few IQ points shy of a rock.

Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master by Raymond E. Feist - A friend actually loaned me these a couple years ago before going into the Navy, and I finally got around to reading them. Pretty dull, generic fantasy except for some interesting sci fi concepts. The author seemed to believe writing "epic fantasy" was some kind of excuse to forgo plot and character development in favor of repeated deus ex machina.

Dec 4, 2007, 12:51pm

"Funny how much we bibliophiles vary in our tastes."

It's true! - I really enjoyed Devil in the White City and am planning on getting around to Larson's other book, Thunderstruck at some point.

Dec 4, 2007, 2:21pm

#47 Streamsong--you just reminded me that I too read Running With Scissors and really hated it too--I guess I hated it so much I blocked it out of my reading list. It was truly a really twisted life that Augusten Burroughs lived.

Dec 4, 2007, 5:06pm

>47 streamsong: and 62
I hated Running with Scissors too. I'm always disappointed when I hear great things about a book and it doesn't live up to the hype.

Dec 4, 2007, 6:23pm

Apparently they made a movie of Running with Scissors and I haven't heard anything good about it either.

Dec 4, 2007, 6:50pm

Re Running with Scissors, I thought the book was fairly entertaining, but mostly a David Sedaris wannabe. The movie was not good at all despite a very good cast. I didn't watch it past the first 45 minutes. It wasn't even funny.

Dec 4, 2007, 8:55pm

kiwiflowa - I think we have the same book, though the title on mine was Literacy and Longing in LA by Jennifer Kaufman. But they must be the same because I TOTALLY agree about the bath thing - I'm sorry she was divorced and all, but I'd LOVE to have nothing to do but read books in the bath and drink wine. Didn't feel any sympathy at all, though I did like Harper and her granny.

kaelirenee - I couldn't get into The Historian either.

Edited: Dec 4, 2007, 9:02pm

And my own personal ones:

Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading - I didn't get much beyond the table of contents and the intro on this one, I could tell it was going to be way too esoteric for me. As soon as I saw the heading "What I learned from Catholic Nun Stories," (or something like that), I knew we had different reading tastes. Not that I have anything against nuns, but if that's an entire *genre* for this woman, we have nothing in common.

Espresso Tales - it's the sequel to the previously mentioned 44 Scotland Street which I loved, but this one didn't live up to my expectations. A boring unrelated story about a longwinded old man seemed like filler and I just didn't like the inhabitants of 44 Scotland St. as much the second time round, which made me sad.

Screen Legends by Bruce Yaccato was an amateurly-done collection of mini-bios of Canadian film stars.

Dec 4, 2007, 9:46pm

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
I just didn't buy it. The language was so flowery and overwrought yet the characters didn't respond with the appropriate amount of fear or dread. The situation and the responses of both the terrorists and the partygoers absolutely did not resonate for me. And I thought I'd love it.

Playground: A Childhood Lost Inside the Playboy Mansion by Jennifer Saginor
What might have been humorous, pathetic or scandalous is just badly written.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Another one I thought I'd love and didn't. Lyra was totally unsympathetic in my opinion. I love the idea of the daemons but otherwise blech. I've heard folks say a lot of grownups don't like this book. I've read plenty of YA that I did love this year but perhaps I'm too grownup to love this one.

The Ruins by Scott B. Smith
I thought A Simple Plan was brilliant. I thought this was repulsive. Ugh, Yuck and Clunk.

I love this thread. I love reading the opinions of readers and the varied responses to the same books.

Dec 4, 2007, 11:21pm

Here's another one: Hester by Christopher Bigby. I stopped 1/4 through and wrote in my journal, "Writing was pompous and dull; focused more on Chillingworth's weird experiements than on Hester Prynne." It was awful.

Edited: Dec 5, 2007, 9:33am

Worst books of 2007:

The Art Thief by Noah Charney (pretentious writing that was purposely elliptical and not even very good to begin with)

The White Witch by Elizabeth Goudge (doughy and boring)

Bambi by Felix Salten (depressing and boring)

The Book of Sorrows by Walter Wangerin Jr. (what a horrible sequel to the wonderful Book of the Dun Cow! I hated this story; not a gleam of light in the whole thing except for the paranoid coyote character — who, of course, gets brutally killed)

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (decidedly horror-ish, a dark and surreal Alice in Wonderland with zero humor and zero quirky fun. I couldn't stand Coraline's character — so unnatural and cold)

Dec 5, 2007, 9:50am

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb - I have no patience for characters (or real people) who sit around complaining about how bad life is and how much the universe is conspiring to make them miserable.

The Crown of Silence by Storm Constantine - SOOOO boring.

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin - Writing was okay, but I need a little more narrative continuity to my story, I think.

The Once and Future King by T. H. White - Blech. The writing wasn't at all to my taste, and also? I get it, I get it, FOR THE LOVE OF LITTLE APPLES, I get it, war is bad, mmmmkay?

Dracula by Bram Stoker - Boring, and overmuch about how much of a paragon of womankind Mina Harker is. Not what I signed up for!

There are plenty of others that I didn't particularly care for or was disappointed by, but these are the ones I really had to fight to finish.

Dec 5, 2007, 2:27pm

>71 fyrefly98:: I expected a lot more from Dracula too, although I have to say that the first third of the book made me lose some sleep! The rest: dull.

Dec 5, 2007, 4:25pm

I too thought Chesil Beach was excellent.

Books I started in 2007 and couldn't finish:

Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Mama Makes up her Mind by Bailey White
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The first and last were the content that bothered me, the 2nd and 3rd were style.

I have started The Corrections by Jonathan Franken but am not sure I will go back to it.

Books I did finish but was disappointed with:

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller
Birth House by Ami McKay
Secret Smile by Nicci French
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

74cacoffer First Message
Dec 5, 2007, 7:01pm

Oh my gosh, Phlox, you have to get past the first few chapters, it's well worth it. Give it another try!

Dec 5, 2007, 7:23pm

bfertig, (post #61) beware, you may be disappointed... I finished it because of my love for Devil in the White City, otherwise I would have thrown it out the window! lol

Dec 5, 2007, 7:38pm

Books I hated:
Everyman by Philip Roth
The Sea by John Banville
Grendel by John Gardner

The first two were incredibly misogynistic, while Grendel was too nihilistic.

Books that didn't live up to the hype:
Inheritance of Loss felt like a school assignment.
The God of Small Things - I loved the writing in this, but the last two chapters were too much for me.

I'm really enjoying reading this thread!

Dec 6, 2007, 11:55am

>76 1morechapter: I'm with you 3M3m, this thread is always interesting. One reader's treasure is another's trash and vice versa, I suppose.

And one has to wonder what we as individuals look for in a book so that it creates expectations, not to mention marketing hype that often screws us over. I find the this-book-is-like-that-other-book marketing is almost never accurate, more of a product of wishful thinking on their part, me thinks.

And while I have acquired an amazing list of LT readers whose opinions and recommendations I value, I still hope I maintain a sense of adventure when it comes to choosing reading which, of course, means there will inevitably be some clunkers in the pile.

Dec 6, 2007, 12:06pm

It would be interesting to see how much crossover there is between this thread and the favorites of 2007.

I too am really enjoying this one.

Dec 6, 2007, 4:50pm

Clunkers for me:

Mercy by Picoult
The Dogs of Babel by Parkhurst
The Collectors by Baldacci

The first book had the potential for so much, but was actually a soap opera and never touched the meat of the issue. The second was well written, but the plot was way too far fetched for me--couldn't make me suspend disbelief. The plot of the last was outrageously unbelievable.

Dec 6, 2007, 9:42pm

I know I already mentioned one clunker for me this year, but in going through my reading list for the year, I came across another one: A Memory of War by Frederick Busch.

Dec 6, 2007, 10:08pm

The Tyranny of the Night by Glen Cook. I've tried to read it about a half dozen times now, but he throws so many names at you, and gives you an almost backwards story of history, that you never really know what's going on or why it matters.

Dec 7, 2007, 1:11pm

I thought of another to add to my clunkers list: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It came highly recommended by a co-worker and I know a lot of people here rave about it, but I found it hugely depressing, both in its punctuation (or lack thereof!) and themes. Thoroughly unenjoyable.

Dec 7, 2007, 1:19pm

Try Cormac McCarthy Border Trilogy-I listened to it on audiobook read by Brad Pitt. Thoroughly enjoyable experience, a little on the depressing side but his imagery is astounding when you consider how sparse his writing can be. He reminds me in some ways of Hemingway. The Trilogy is very masculine in character choice, their roles and most of the events, but at the same time I found it very emotionally touching, due, I think to McCarthy's ability to make his concise writing work.

Dec 7, 2007, 1:27pm

Try Barbara KingsolverThe Bean Trees I loved that, but I listened to {poisonwood Bible on audiobook so maybe that's why I could get through it. Also the The Thirteenth Tale was definitely too long,but I did listen to that one also. I have read Running With Scissors but not Magical Thinking yet. I can see how he could become redundant

Dec 7, 2007, 1:30pm

The Once and Future King was one of those books I will never forget, but I did read it when I was much younger. I really enjoyed Dracula} also, but again I read that when I was much younger, twice infact, and I found that the movie with Keanu Reeves was very similar to the book, in effect, at least.

Dec 7, 2007, 8:22pm

I just realized that I forgot one - On Chesil Beach. I know that I lot of people loved this book but I just wanted to smack both characters and give them a good shake.

Dec 7, 2007, 8:31pm

*86 bookaholicgirl: I loved On Chesil Beach. What's your address? I'm coming over to give you a smack and a good shake!

Dec 7, 2007, 8:44pm

#87 amandameale, I'll be right behind you!

Dec 7, 2007, 8:48pm

Funny how different we all are! I thought The Road was wonderful ~ it's one of my top 5 of 2007. Then again, I listened to it on audiobook, so maybe that was cheating, considering the punctuation issue. I do plan to read it in book form at some point and will let you know if I change my mind about it.

Dec 8, 2007, 8:19am

Clunker, clunker, clunker: Messiah by Boris Starling

Dec 9, 2007, 9:31am

I usually don't have a strongly negative reaction to books - all in all I'm pretty tolerant. But A Good Dog (Jon Katz was a big exception. I was very angry at the author for how the book ended (I'm trying not to give anything away here), and then in the Afterward, he chastised me for not liking him! I don't want to read books that criticize the reader for not liking them - if you publish a book, you need to be prepared for people to not like it!

Dec 9, 2007, 10:44am

--> 91

A good antidote to Katz's Orson: A Good Dog is Marley and Me by John Grogan. It's a wonderful and hilariously funny dog story. Instead of a border collie, the main (dog) character is a yellow Labrador retriever. Grogan faces the same dilemma as Katz but makes the opposite choice (again trying not to give anything away).

Dec 9, 2007, 10:57am

#92 SqueakyChu: I'll have to check that one out - I've had a lot of people tell me I should read it, but I've been leery of doing so - you make it sound worthwhile, though. Part of what made Katz's book so horrible to read was that it was one of the books that I my husband and I read aloud to each other in the evenings, and we have a border collie who sits by us and 'listens' too. I swear she knew what was going on in the Katz book and was duly horrified!

Edited: Dec 9, 2007, 11:07am

--> 93

I really think you should share Marley and Me with your husband and your dog. It might make you cry, but you'll come away from that book with a warm and fuzzy feeling for John Grogan (the author) and, of course, Marley (the lab).

Dec 9, 2007, 11:17am

#93: It's already made it onto the read-aloud list - thanks again for mentioning it!

Dec 9, 2007, 11:48am

Praise for Marley and Me from here, as well. Truly wonderful. He's also published an edition for children, that takes out some of the stuff about his relationship with his wife (nothing truly racy there, but probably not as interesting for kids). Anyway, my daughter loved it.

Edited: Dec 9, 2007, 12:13pm

Since I am usually pretty picky about what goes on my TBR list - I'll join the chorus stating the worst books by far were the early reviewer ones - Absolute worst Red Zone Blues, 2nd worst Identical Stangers. I will add to that Inside Out: a Personal History of Pink Floyd, which my husband, the Pink Floyd fan, chose as a read aloud book.

In terms of disappointing (as opposed to bad) books in 2007, I have to count The Omnivore's Dilemma and Imperial Life in the Emerald City -one which I chose because it was on the NYT best nonfiction of the year last year, the other which ended up on it this year.

Dec 11, 2007, 11:00pm

I'll go ahead and add to my initial list (post #5) The Oxford Murders, by Guillermo Martinez. Martinez single-handedly demonstrates why mathematicians shouldn't attempt to write murder novels. Everything, right down to the over-used clichés (i.e. receiving anonymous notes with the letters cut out from different sources *rolls eyes*), was nothing more than a context within which he could situate his egotistical claim that mathematicians are the most intelligent people on earth. Gimme a break.

Dec 12, 2007, 7:42am

#87 and #88 - Now, now, be nice! It's an opinion remember and different opinions are what make this a great place to come and visit. If everyone liked the same thing, the world would be a very boring place to be.

Edited: Dec 12, 2007, 7:59am

Finally! After three attempts.
#99 Only joking with you. More later when computer not playing up.

Edited: Dec 12, 2007, 9:22am

I, too, wanted to smack both characters in On Chesil Beach. But I really liked the book. Sometimes the best books have detestable characters that provoke me to want to smack them.

Dec 12, 2007, 12:17pm

amandameale - No offense taken - just wanted to let you know that I read your post and actually laughed out loud when I did.

Dec 12, 2007, 1:02pm

I didn't hate it but The Razor's Edge (my initiation into Maugham) was disappointing. I found it philosophically dated and rather condescending toward all of the characters (especially Gray) who didn't "get" Larry Darrell's life-affirming quest to be a globe-trotting mooch. I also thought that Maugham's casting himself as the narrator was a bit bush league for such an esteemed author. Still, it was easy to breeze through and likable enough. I've started The Summing Up and find it charming and a better forum for Maugham's curmudgeonly self-disclosure.

By the way, philosojerk (#5): I enjoyed your trashing of the Wisdom book but wanted to see some examples of its patronization and inaccuracies. I think it would bolster your review pretty well.

Edited: Dec 12, 2007, 5:09pm

geesh, this is supposed to be a grumpy, grinch-like thread and you all keep trying to turn things around:-) Then there's that amandameale with her dry sense of humor;-)

I was disappointed in On Chesil Beach, although I thought it quite good. I expect more from a GOD like McEwan. I should also add that The Dud Avocado was a bit of a dud with me. Perhaps I just couldn't connect with the character...dunno. I know many LTers just loved it.

Dec 12, 2007, 7:59pm

I wasn't so impressed by The Dud Avocado either, avaland, but it was mildly entertaining and harmless enough.

Dec 13, 2007, 6:46am

The Ballad of Lee Cotton by Christopher Wilson
The Five People you Meet in Heaven by Mitch Ablom
The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks
Burning Bright by Tracey Chevalier
Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff

Dec 13, 2007, 7:57am

The Cove by Catherine Coulter. This was supposed to be a thriller, but it bored me. Also, I didn't like the tone it was written in. I couldn't finish it. I know it might be to some people's taste - it wasn't an awful book, just not my style. But I didn't see why I should keep reading it.

Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz. Koontz is usually hit or miss with me; this one was a miss. I couldn't get into it. I might pick it up later and see if it gets any better - it's still got my bookmark in it, so I haven't given up on it completely.

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. The author and I apparently have completely different attitudes towards both reading and writing. She reads to better herself and agonizes over every word she writes; I read for entertainment and write to get my ideas across. There's nothing wrong with her approach; it's just not mine. (I did read a novel by Francine Prose later in the month, and I loved it.)

Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock. This book just rubbed me the wrong way. It didn't interest me, and I didn't like the tone.

Cradle and All by James Patterson. I loved the premise; I did not love the execution.

And that's just a few of this year's clunkers. I found a lot of them this year.

Dec 13, 2007, 8:09am

>106 amandameale: I admire your adventurous spirit, amandameale! Had you come into the bookstore while I was still there, and judging by your reading since I have known you here on LT for over a year now, I would never have recommended Ablom or Ruff to you, and probably not Banks:-)

>105 LouisBranning: louisbranning, yes, 'harmless enough', that was my conclusion also.

Dec 13, 2007, 8:11am

#75 Larson's earlier book: Isaac's Storm, is a page turner and full of history about the first "Katrina". I can't recommend it enough.

Dec 13, 2007, 8:19am

>106 amandameale: amandameale - Can I ask why you didn't like Set This House in Order? There were some things I thought were not handled as well as they could have been, but it was by far closer to the top than the bottom of my list for 2006.

Dec 13, 2007, 10:47am

fyrefly98, I've always liked Matt Ruff's book as well, have recommended it more than a few times, and was a little surprised to discover it at the bottom of Amanda's list of clunkers.

Dec 13, 2007, 10:47am

>107 Enraptured:-Was it just Griffin and Sabine's plot you didn't like, or is it Bantock in general? I absolutly love him (but I certainly don't expect others to). I'm also a bit biased, though-my son's name is Gryphon (same pronunciation, different spelling).

The Museum at Purgatory is (I think) his best work, if you like the artwork that he does and you're willing to give him another shot.

Dec 13, 2007, 10:54am

I read pulpy supermarket mysteries as a guilty pleasure and I don't expect much. However, I thought these were pretty poor:

Act of Treason by Vince Flynn
On the Fifth Day by A. J. Hartley
The Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor

I also didn't really care for Julie and Julia by Julie Powell.

Dec 13, 2007, 1:11pm

I hated and could not get past the first 50 pages of V. by Thomas Pynchon.

I absolutely loved the first half of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, but hated the ending beyond all reason.

I'm still trying to get through Sophie's World and I will finish it before New Years if it kills me, but I just can't seem to care at all. It feels like a school assignment.

Dec 14, 2007, 6:58am

>112 kaelirenee: - I'm not sure, since I've never read anything else by him. My main problem with it was the creepy tone; I can't quite put my finger on where exactly it came from, but it creeped me out. If that tone runs through Bantock's other works, I doubt I'd like them much... but that's just a matter of my personal preference, not an indication of quality :)

Dec 14, 2007, 8:07am

#110 and #111 This was simply a case of it not being my type of thing. In fact, I almost left it off my clunker list because of that. Similarly, The Five People You Meet in Heaven was not dreadful, it was just too "nice" for my tastes.

Dec 14, 2007, 8:14am

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is the only book I've given up on in a very long time.

Edited: Dec 14, 2007, 8:24am

The Crying of Lot 49. I know everyone loves it, but I just thought it was pretentious and all together awful. I was just utterly unimpressed. I felt like Pynchon was laughing at the reader for lapping up his serious works.

Dec 14, 2007, 9:30am

>115 Enraptured:-I can see that. The entire time I was reading the book, I felt like I was snooping through my mom's sock drawer. The funny thing is, one of the first books I read of his (The Forgetting Room) is all about going through your parent's things, and it didn't have that same snopping feel.

If you want to give him another try, please try Museum at Purgatory.

Dec 15, 2007, 10:30pm

I was also dissapointed with Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I was so excited when it came out that I bought it in hardback and than...bleh. That quiz at the end didn't even have any answers! It had such a good premise though, it is a big shame that it stunk!

I couldn't finish reading The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. I just lost interest after about 30 pages. It's sitting on the top of my book case waiting for someone to tell me it's worth reading.

Dec 16, 2007, 12:46am

>120 GoodbyeCleo: Goodbye Cleo

I did like Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Although it didn't take off the way I had expected, I found it a solid enjoyable read and I'm not sorry I bought the hard cover early on.

I bought Absurdistan at the same time as STICP. Now that was a clunker, so much so that I wouldn't have remembered it if it wasn't for the buying connection. The humor never quite clicked for me and I didn't even finish it.

Dec 16, 2007, 4:18am

I couldn't agree more about Absurdistan, CEP, another over-hyped and un-funny piece of work that really is a supreme clunker.

Dec 16, 2007, 8:08am

My Clunker Award 2007 is going to The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. I truly suffered through this. I know, I KNOW, everyone loves it but me...but, no, I can't like this book.

Dec 16, 2007, 9:56am

#121, #122, Fortunately for me, I had read an excerpt from Absurdistan in the New Yorker, so I knew to avoid the book. Also, I had read The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Gary Shteyngart's first novel -- it started out great when the protagonist, a young Russian immigrant, was in New York, but fell apart at the end when he went back to Russia.

Dec 16, 2007, 12:34pm

I would have to vote on ANDERSONVILLE by MacKinlay Kantor. This had a history of being banned in Texas shortly after its publication in the 1950s. I think it was banned on its tediousness and length. It was very well researched but I could have written it in about 400 less pages.

Dec 16, 2007, 4:05pm

Sorry you're not an Andersonville admirer, LivelyLady, but I re-read Kantor's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about 3 years ago and just loved it all over again, one of the 2 or 3 greatest Civil War novels ever.

Dec 16, 2007, 5:57pm

121, 122, 124> phew, I nearly bought that today as part of a 3 for 2 offer. I'm so glad I didn't! (And now I know to avoid it in future. Hurrah for LT!)

Dec 16, 2007, 7:16pm

LivelyLady, I cannot help but think of one of my 7th grade book reports when I read your user name. I read The Lively Lady by Kenneth Lewis Roberts, a local Maine author who books we had around the house. It was an odd choice, but it was a quicker read that The March to Quebec or Northwest Passage. So, thanks for the bit of nostalgia.

Dec 17, 2007, 2:27am

121, 122, 124, 125: It takes all kinds. I thought Absurdistan was a decent read. It was overhyped, though.

130aglassmd First Message
Dec 17, 2007, 7:49am

My vote for the most-hyped-yet-most-dissappointing read of 2007 -

The Stolen Child - Keith Donohue

I can't even remember WHY I couldn't get into it, I just know I set it aside at about the 40 page mark. That's my litmus test -- If I can't get past the 40th page, chance are I will not finish the book.



Dec 17, 2007, 8:43am

LouisBranning, #126, I was disappointed that I didn't like {Andersonville} since I went to Andersonville this summer and was awed, as well as horrified, by the history of events. I have bought {The Killer Angels} to try reading fiction about the Civil War from another author.

Dec 17, 2007, 8:44am

Avaland, I have a copy of THE LIVELY LADY on my shelf. My husband collects Kenneth Roberts book and is from Maine.

Dec 17, 2007, 8:52am

Unfortunately I know there are certain books I just shouldn't read, but I usually end up reading them anyway, through a misguided sense of "I should really give those a chance..."

My two clunkers are:
The Sea by John Banville - His writing is good, but the story just seemed so torturous. Took me about a week to read, and it's a short book (a week is a long time for me).
The Road by Cormac McCarthy - same problem as above, really. I do like "sparse" prose, and it practically dripped atmosphere, but I just couldn't like it.

I don't have much luck with Prize winners. I keep wondering if I should buy The Gathering but it's setting off my alarm bells...

Dec 17, 2007, 9:53am

#126, LouisBranning, I have an old copy of Andersonville that belonged to my mother, but have never read it -- with your recommendation, I'll have to take a look.

Dec 17, 2007, 10:35am

Birds of a Feather by Carolyn Greene (yeah, I know you've never heard of it...)

Eldest by Christopher Paolini -- Eragon was find, but Eldest wasn't even worth picking off the shelf. Ugh.

The End by Lemony Snicket -- okay, it was hilarious, but I could shoot myself for actually reading all thirteen of the Series of Unfortunate Events...and the last one was the worst of all.

Dec 17, 2007, 10:51am

I remember reading this huge, fat paperback copy of Andersonville in high school, around 1963 or 64, and it really made an impression on me at the time. Then just a couple of years ago I ran across an absolutely pristine first edition of it from 1955, and the thing was so grossly under-priced that I just couldn't resist, read it again immediately, of course, and have been recommending it regularly ever since.

Dec 17, 2007, 1:52pm


Detested The Sea
Loved The Road

Dec 17, 2007, 4:19pm

Great. I just bought The Sea this morning. Oh, well. At least it was a used copy and I didn't pay full price.

Dec 17, 2007, 4:29pm

#133 I have to agree that The Sea was a snoozer for me as well last year.

Another highly hyped book that I detested was Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Just didn't interest me at all.

Dec 17, 2007, 4:30pm

The Gathering was good, but not as good as the hype led me to expect.

Dec 17, 2007, 4:57pm

#131 LivelyLady - Hope you enjoy The Killer Angels. I read it for the first time this year myself and loved it. I gave Andersonville a brief shot and could not get into it, but I will probably try again.

Edited: Dec 17, 2007, 5:15pm

#18 Bookmarque - Completely agree about Tenth Justice - I thought it was better suited as a whiney prep school essay from Silver Spoon High, rather than a "legal thriller". Pretty dreary in my mind.

Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip would be my clunker of the year. For all the pub he gets about being a hilarious suspense novelist, I found his "humorous mystery" containing little mystery and certainly no humor.

Dec 17, 2007, 5:14pm

>139 Cariola: Cariola, I felt the same about Gilead (it's been a few years ago). I thought about trying it again, but - too many other books I want to read. I loved her book Housekeeping, so was quite disappointed.

Dec 17, 2007, 5:17pm

Interesting. I enjoyed The Road but not like some readers who raved about it. I thought the novel somewhat contrived, oversimplified in order to tell his moral tale. I also thought it was an emotionally manipulative as any Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation. Out Stealing Horses is a far better father-son story, imo.

The Sea has the most wonderfully written prose, that said, I found it a bit of a snoozer, but having just read Gilead and March, I think I was just impatient with yet another award-winning story about a man.

Dec 19, 2007, 8:25pm

Move Over, Mountain by John Ehle is the one that comes immediately to mind. I may add others once I look over my list again...

Dec 19, 2007, 10:05pm

Ooh, finally someone else (two someones) who didn't like Gilead! I've never read Housekeeping, but there was SO much hype about Gilead when it came out that I got it from the library right away and was severely disappointed. For a young woman, I have a very high tolerance for books with aging men as protagonist (e.g., Philip Roth), but for some reason that did not help me at all with Gilead. I still can't explain what it was I didn't like exactly, but some combination of the slowness and the fact that the addressee had basically no personality yet (as a child) made it really difficult to like. And there was something that creeped me out about his young wife too.

Dec 20, 2007, 12:06am

One of mine was mentioned upthread. An Arsonist's Guide to Writer's Homes in New England is so bad it's not even worth commenting on. The buyer, agent, publisher, and above all the author should receive forty lashes. With a cat-o-nine-tails.

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain was unbelievable, unrealistic, uninteresting, unlikely and damn near unreadable.

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk. Chuck not only stumbles but falls flat on his face. He may never get back up.

Well, avaland did encourage us to state how we really felt.

Dec 20, 2007, 9:33am

#146 Can't say as my age was a barrier in reading Gilead; not young (but not quite that old). And I can deal with slow-paced books; I'm one of those who loved On Chesil Beach, for example, and Henry James is a favorite. I can enjoy a book in which I don't like the main character, but he/she needs at least to be interesting. This guy was unlikeable AND boring. I'm guessing that for some it was the spiritual hook--although I wouldn't think that would appeal to the critics. Maybe the fact that Robinson waited so long to publish it convinced them that it had to be a masterpiece.

Dec 20, 2007, 9:40am

This guy was unlikeable AND boring. I'm guessing that for some it was the spiritual hook--although I wouldn't think that would appeal to the critics.

Exactly! He was bland, his wife was bland, and their son was too young and absent to be anything but bland. I may have to post about this one on the "please explain it to me" group.

Dec 20, 2007, 11:58am

Gilead is one of my favorite books. For me, it was the quality of the writing. I am truly amazed by her. There were several times when I re-read passages thinking, "Wow." She just has a way with words.

I can see where some would have been bored with it, though.

Dec 20, 2007, 2:01pm

What I loved so muh about Gilead was that he began writing the diary for his son in order to impart some lessons to the son about how to behave. Over time, when he begins to deal with the troubled man, he begins to show his character and to demonstrate what he is trying to teach. I fell in love with the character of this man as he shows his son how to be good, not just tells him how. And no, it wasnt the spiritual hook, it was watching a complicated man dealing with a complicated person.

Dec 20, 2007, 2:32pm

I read Gilead when it first came out and didn't like it either. Apparently, 3M3m and keren7, you got something totally different out of it then I did. When I read your comments, I feel like we didn't even read the same book. There really wasn't anything I liked about it but I am glad that you enjoyed it. I love reading these lists and seeing how something I loved others hated and how something I hated is someone else's all time favorite. Very interesting.

Dec 20, 2007, 3:18pm

>152 bookaholicgirl: Indeed. The spice of life.

Dec 20, 2007, 4:05pm

Gilead--I didn't like it either but it wasn't my worst read this year. That had to be Running With Scissors or On Chesil Beach. I know many others loved On Chesil Beach. But I just thought it was slow and boring.

Dec 20, 2007, 4:45pm

momom248 - We must have similar tastes. I nearly got rocks thrown at me on here when I said that I didn't like On Chesil Beach. I didn't enjoy Running with Scissors either - I remember that I kept checking the cover and the front page to make sure that I wasn't really reading fiction. I couldn't imagine that anyone lived like that and, if they did, that they would want anyone to know about it nor could I understand why they would appear to be proud of it. The whole book gave me the creeps.

Dec 20, 2007, 4:58pm

Open questions to all. If you were an author would you click on this thread? Are you an author that did read this thread?

The books I didn't like this year don't have horrible ratings on LT. Arsonist's is rated 3.27, Rant is rated 3.73, while Heartsick has a strong 4.06 rating.

So, I'd open it because no one can please everybody all the time.

Dec 20, 2007, 11:27pm

Running with Scissors was my least-favorite book of last year. At least it was short. I really liked On Chesil Beach, though--not McEwan's best, but still pretty good.

Dec 21, 2007, 9:08am

Here's another vote for Gilead - I nearly gave up on it, but was eventually drawn into the story. And a vote for On Chesil Beach - to me, a perfect novel.

Edited: Dec 21, 2007, 10:38am

#155 bookaholic girl--I felt like I was in the minority for On Chesil Beach as many others really loved it. I just thought it was very boring. And Running With Scissor although amusing at times was a pretty disturbing portrait of a young person's life--still having a hard time believing its a true story. I agree with you--the book gave me the creeps too. Someone gave me a copy of the sequel, Dry and I really don't want to read it.

Dec 21, 2007, 11:17am

>158 amandameale: amandameale
I loved On Chesil Beach. Spare yet deep. I can see your take on it as perfect.

>154 momom248: momom248 >157cabegley
As for Running with Scissors, I felt it was permeated with some perverted sense of glee. Readable but certainly not up to the hype and a definite deterrent to Burroughs other works. It may weigh in as leasts favorite of the year along with cabegley.

Gilead is on my shelf tbr. The divergent opinions have got me wondering what I'll think--but it will be a while until I get to it.

Dec 21, 2007, 11:19am

The book I could not force myself to get through was Germinal by Zola. It's just punishingly bleak, even with all the sex. Sorry 19th century French coal miners!

Dec 21, 2007, 1:01pm

On Chesil Beach was one of my favorites this year. No, there wasn't a lot of action; but I tend to like introspective books. This one stayed with me for a long, long time after I finished it.

Dec 21, 2007, 1:20pm

I liked On Chesil Beach as well, but was confused at first, because I had it mixed up with The Road - so I was expecting a post-apocalyptic novel and here's this introspective quiet little book about expectations and gender differences. Heh heh. It didn't take me too long to figure out my error. Still haven't read The Road though.

Dec 21, 2007, 6:09pm

#159 - I have the sequel as well and just can't bring myself to read it. It has been sitting on the bookshelf in my bedroom for 5 years now. As I am physically unable to throw away a book, it just sits there day after day, mocking me. I just got a little shiver down my back thinking about it.

Dec 21, 2007, 6:48pm

Here's another vote for On Chesil Beach - think it was my favourite for 2007. I started an Augusten Burroughs book (not Running With Scissors) but gave up after 3 or 4 pages - just not my taste.
Atonement by Ian McEwan will be on my list for early 2008.

Dec 21, 2007, 7:50pm

>160 CEP: It is interesting in Burrough's Dry: A Memoir that his humor turns more on himself than those around him. It has a different effect. In fact, I was very surprised to find parts of the second book quite moving. Very surprised. I listened to both books on audio, read by the author, btw. Entertaining on a long commute.

I take all memoirs with a grain of salt. As I read recently, we are always rewriting our memories as we grow older.

Dec 21, 2007, 8:23pm

Well, I'm now curious about Dry. I'm imagining that over time Burrough's voice--written, that is---changes and in itself tells of his trials. And one of these days I'll have to try audiobooks.

Dec 22, 2007, 4:07pm

#161 I really liked the movie Germinal, starring Gerard Depardieu. I haven't read the book, but maybe you could try the movie? It's still bleak, but I thought it very thought-provoking. It's in French with English subtitles.

Dec 23, 2007, 4:01pm

My clunkers are two relative unknowns:

When God Winks by SQuire Rushnell (I slogged through most of it) -- supposed stories of coincidence, but they stretched to get there and the author inserted himself too much. And what’s his deal -- spelling his name with two capital letters?

How I Write ed by Dan Crowe (ended up skimming this one) -- I expected a photo of a writer’s space, or a couple paragraphs of description, but this wasn’t that. Other than weird fonts, I don’t know what it was.

Dec 23, 2007, 9:33pm

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I have tried off and on all year to make my way through this book only because I have seen many of my students read it. I just can't get through it however. Maybe it is something in this book that their adolescent brains comprehend that isn't for the adult mind.

Dec 23, 2007, 9:37pm

This has been a fun thread to read through - lots of books on my TBR list...maybe I'll rethink a few.

A few clunkers....

The Manny by Peterson -- I just didn't get hooked by it. Perhaps it might make a good movie but the characters just grated on me.

Memory Keepers Daughter -- a great story idea but the actual writing was not up to par.

Like many others - Middlesex was hard to get through - I tried to listen to it but it still didn't work for me.

Dec 29, 2007, 10:41am

So this is a bit late, but this year I couldn't even get started with Mark Leyner's The Tetherballs of Bouganville, which seemed silly and self-indulgent and written by its crass, hyperactive teenage main character.

I couldn't get through Italo Calvino's If On A Winter Night A Traveler but that might have just been me; I think I needed to devote a quiet couple of days to it instead of reading it in a rush.

Oh, heck, if this is all I can think of, this was a better year than I figured.

Dec 29, 2007, 5:21pm

There were just two that I gave up on this year. Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen was possibly the most annoying non-fiction book I have ever read. One of my friends talked me into buying it so I could read it along with her Bible study group. They seemed to find great spiritual insight in it, but I thought it was just a very un-original self-help book. Osteen's writing style grated on me, and I think what few points he had could have been condensed down to 50 pages or less instead of 300. It is on its way to the thrift shop.

Also in the thrift shop box is Mark Helprin's Memoir From Antproof Case. After abandoning Freddy and Frederica last year, I should have known better than to even try. I just don't get Mark Helprin. At least I only paid 59 cents for this one.

Dec 29, 2007, 9:37pm

Ditto...did not like Gilead...loved Dry....detested Back to Wando Passo

Dec 30, 2007, 2:56am

#169 Detail_Muse I'm thinking that name SQuire is supposed to be pronounced "esquire" maybe. Instead of spelling it out completely, he used a short-cut method? That's my 2 cents at least. LOL.

Dec 30, 2007, 6:34am

My CLUNKERS of 2007:

When Madeline Was Young by Jane Hamilton
The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander
The Binding Chair by Kathryn Harrison
Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited by Elyse Schein
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

Dec 30, 2007, 1:10pm

>175 raggedtig:: raggedtig
omg I think you're right! That's so funny.

You're clever .. and I guess I'd have to admit, so is he.

Dec 30, 2007, 1:23pm

I tried Gilead but couldn't get into it, so didn't continue. I had such high expectations because I loved Housekeeping which I read in the early '90s.

I guess my clunker would be In the Driver's Seat by Helen Simpson. I love short stories and had heard great buzz on this book. I didn't work for me - actually I cannot remember anything about it. Not a good sign.

Dec 30, 2007, 3:28pm

--> 176

I really loved The Ministry of Special Cases. The story really hit me hard when I realized the book was not going to be funny after all.

What was it that made it a clunker for you? Was it the humor?

Dec 30, 2007, 3:49pm

The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle

totally hated it.. I have hated books before. but this one ...not a redeeming word, as far as I am concerned.. UGH!

Dec 30, 2007, 4:12pm

From the library shelves:

Identical Strangers: interesting Premise, very tedious-- it was like they couldn't make up their minds what they wanted the book to be about-- needed a sharper focus

Ghostwalk: overwritten, overthought, almost didn't finish it

The Spellman Files: just plain silly, and I expected it to be quite clever

Edited: Dec 30, 2007, 5:06pm

My dud for 2007 was The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey which is a real pity since I usually adore her books. It was a re-read and I went into it thinking, "How bad can it be?" The answer is REALLY BAD. Not remembered how bad it was should have been a clue.

Dishonorable Mentions:
Eragon by Christopher Paolini - and it JUST SO HAPPENS happened far too many times
Greenwitch by Susan Cooper - boring
Black Powder War by Naomi Novik - far too depressing, just shoot me now
Simply Magic by Mary Balogh - bleh

Dec 30, 2007, 9:16pm


You have to finish Life of Pi in order to get why it is so good. Although, I enjoyed it the whole way through - its the ending that makes the book so good. I think most people who dont finish Life of Pi dont like it.

Thats all I am going to say

Dec 30, 2007, 9:21pm

I was really disappointed by Ten Days In the Hills too. None of the characters were likable or interesting in the least.

Dec 30, 2007, 10:05pm

#177 Detail_Muse Thanks for the compliment (i'm hoping it was meant that way). Happy New Year to ya!

Dec 31, 2007, 12:04am

>180 mckait: McKait I so agree about the God of Animals. There aren't a lot of adult horse related fiction books, so I was looking forward to it....but it was so WRONG in all the details. It left me feeling sick and hoping no one would take it seriously.

Dec 31, 2007, 4:44am


I was really looking forward to readingThe Ministry of Special Cases , but this story simply did not engage me on any level. The characters came across as caricatures to me which I had no feeling for. After 100 pages I gave up and didn't bother finishing it. I did enjoy the humor in it (although I don't feel it was intended to be humorous).

A lot of readers really loved this book so I fall into the tiny minority that did not ;)

Dec 31, 2007, 10:14am

I didn't like The Spellman Files either and I was soo looking forward to it. I just didn't care about the characters. Another book with a good premise that fell way short of the mark!

Edited: Dec 31, 2007, 10:28am

--> 187

Thanks for your reply.

Do you think the author tried so hard to write well that he lost the ability to capture your interest? I didn't feel this way about The Ministry of Special Cases but I sure did when I tried to read On Beauty by Zadie Smith (although I loved White Teeth).

I think that The Ministry of Special Cases was reviewed harshly by professional reviewers because of its humor.

Dec 31, 2007, 11:32am

I read many good books this year, but clunkers did slip in--I was surprised to find myself having to choose between a couple of books in order to make it down to five (Identical Strangers therefore did not make this list, but just barely). My least favorite books of 2007:

Fire in the Grove by John C. Esposito--the story of the tragic Cocoanut Grove fire could have been fascinating in the right hands. Unfortunately, it was in the hands of John C. Esposito.
The Tale of a Dog by Lars Gustafsson--written by a Swede, translated by a Brit, set in Texas. The results were offputting, and the story was baffling.
Chinaman's Chance by Ross Thomas--a pedestrian thriller, and not my cup of tea.
The Great Stink by Clare Clark--the title could not be more appropriate. This book also wins the Worst Ending award for my 2007 reading.
PopCo by Scarlett Thomas--this ending gave The Great Stink a run for its money, however.

Dec 31, 2007, 3:00pm

My big clunker of the year was Foucault's Pendulum I slogged through this book and can't believe I actually kept with it, since it was torture to get through! Considering the subject matter, I had such high hopes and found it so dull and wordy!

Dec 31, 2007, 3:08pm

I couldn't get into Mrs. Dalloway. My review here.

Jan 1, 2008, 9:40pm

This is a really long post, but I want to explain why these books were so bad. I hope I don’t sound too critical or like I hate everything I read- I read 144 books this year and I have too many favorites to do a top 5 list, but I do have 7 least favorites. I had a great reading year overall, but I feel like none of these books worked well- this isn’t really me hating a plot point or a character but finding everything about them poorly constructed. Only As I Lay Dying was for a class, but I forced myself to finish all of these. Starting with the worst…

1. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner - I know this is “literature”, so there are going to be people who doubt my judgments about the other books I hate, but I can’t stand Faulkner. The Sound and the Fury is my least favorite book ever, but I also hated this. This is the bad side of required reading.

2. The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith - Really bad. This book was boring and pointless, did not enjoy the characters, the use of philosophy, the characters, and “mystery”. This book has turned me off McCall Smith, I don’t really want to read his better series now (I thought The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was charming).

3. Breakfast with the Ones You Love by Eliot Fintushel - So disappointing. It seemed fun and wacky at first, and I thought the Jewish aspects incorporated in it would be cool. But the plot ended up getting crazy in a bad way, the characters were annoying, and the writing was repetitive and failed to be clever. I regret reading this.

4. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear -
I love good historical mysteries, like those by Laurie R. King and Elizabeth Peters and I had read a number of positive reviews of this book online. I was seriously disappointed. I would not recommend this book at all. It was so bad. Bland characters, so flat and unbelievable. Nothing anyone said was interesting. I felt like WWI one was being used to make me care, so that I got sad, but how can you not, just by giving a historical description. I didn’t like Maisie, but she wasn’t dislikable in an interesting way. Pip from Great Expectations, I alternately want to slap and hug. Maisie, I want to slap. The mystery was obvious, Maisie didn’t figure anything out, and I could have gone in and solved the mystery so much better. Maurice’s wise sayings were cliché. The history was wallpaper, I felt like history lessons and research were being dumped on me for no reason. The author kept telling me about Maisie’s black hair and blue eyes. Who cares? And her outfits. I wanted to slap some sense into these people.

To go off on more of a rant, I wrote this midway through the book, when I was still hoping for the best- It’s so interesting reading Maisie Dobbs while reading Dickens. The weakness of the prose, the pointlessness of so much of the writing, becomes so much more apparent. Dickens is accused of being overly wordy, but I got something from every page of the 989 pages of writing in Bleak House. There was humor, there were interesting observations about characters, some great bit of prose. With Maisie Dobbs, which is a slender novel, I find myself wondering why so much detail is given for pointless conversation and pointless descriptions. There is more filler in the book. And talk about melodrama! Dickens is way more subtle, even while using all the romance novel clichés. Dickens use of dialect is much more comprehensible. Even though they are both in England with all the class issues, and there is beauty and instant friendship!, still, Dickens knows what he is doing. I am hoping for improvement- she is a first time novelist. But I keep feeling like she is telling rather than showing.

5. Firmin : adventures of a metropolitan lowlife by Sam Savage
Thought it would be good, and the beginning was so promising that I was really excited about it. It got old fast, the story was pretty dumb, I found the main character, the rat, annoying, and the book just seemed like it had no purpose, the whole rat thing didn’t work as a metaphor and didn’t really give me a great new perspective on literature.

6. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman - finished this January 9 and I didn’t write a detailed review, but I remember not caring about the constant movements through time and feeling like the novel didn’t really end on a note that made reading a bunch of boring futuristic military things worthwhile.

7. The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno - I laughed out loud at early line in the book and it originally seemed so creative and promising. “Above the dirt of an unmarked grave and beneath the shadow of the abandoned refinery, the children would play their own made-up games: Wild West Accountants! in which they would calculate the loss of a shipment of gold stolen from an imaginary stage coach, or Recently Divorced Scientists! in which they would build a super-collider out of garbage to try and win back their recently lost loves.” Major disappointment. Not sure what the point of the book was, the setting didn't make sense, I wish the author could have committed to reality or insanity or differentiated in some way. The characters didn't really change, the mystery solved was unusual but not interesting or fitting in the world of the novel. I finished the book feeling let down.

Jan 2, 2008, 4:28am

suzanney, I'm afraid I can't agree with you about either As I Lay Dying or The Sound and the Fury, having read both several times in the last 40 years, so that they're now like a pair of old friends. But Joe Meno's The Boy Detective Fails made my clunker list in 2006 and I still harbor an active dislike of it, a true stinker.

Jan 2, 2008, 8:33am

I'm not a great one for abandoning books, but Pedro Juan Guiterrez's Dirty Havana Trilogy is a book I can't see myself ever finishing.

I understood it to be a book about what life was really like in 1990s Cuba, but it is, in fact, sub-Henry Miller nonsense, with a middle aged man describing a suspiciously large number of conquests of much younger women, and it gets rather repetitive after a while. That may will be part of the author's life, but there has to be more to it than that.

Jan 2, 2008, 8:56am

193: suzanney
I've only read As I Lay Dying but agree about Faulkner. It's one thing to re-read literature in order to re-enjoy it and go more deeply -- but it frustrated me to think of having to re-read just to figure out the basic story. Too many other great things to read!

That said, I will eventually try him again with The Sound and the Fury, probably peeking at the SparkNotes site every so often to make sure I'm "getting it."

Jan 2, 2008, 9:02am

#193: I'm one of those who really like Faulkner, even though I don't always understand his writing, but I can certainly see how people wouldn't like him too. He seems to be one of those 'love 'em or hate 'em' authors.

Edited: Jan 2, 2008, 9:16am

My clunkers for 2007:

The Sleeping Doll --- I've been in Vienna for the past couple of months and can't buy books as I can't take them with me when I go home (which is inexcusable) so I've been relying on the grand old borrowing system. This was lent to me by one of my housemates and I'm embarrassed to say that I actually bothered to finish it. Contrived and clumsy. The actual storyline wasn't terrible (as far as formulaic crime fiction goes) it was just poorly written, something that I cannot forgive in an international bestseller.

Oh well, beggars can't be choosers.

Skinny Legs And All --- this was a huge disappointment for me, I was expecting so much and the payoff was nonexistent.

Eat, Love and Pray --- My dad loved this and lent it to me. I was less than impressed but feel no small amount of gratitude for it encouraging him in continuing the yoga portion to his physical therapy program. For that Gilbert will always have a special place in my heart.

Jan 4, 2008, 1:46pm

I am pleased to say that I had no clunkers for 207 :) Maybe I am not a discerning reader? But I attribute my god fortune to reading the books of the 1001 books to read before you die. I feel the books have, for the most part, been inspiring and thought provoking.

Jan 4, 2008, 1:46pm

I am pleased to say that I had no clunkers for 207 :) Maybe I am not a discerning reader? But I attribute my god fortune to reading the books of the 1001 books to read before you die. I feel the books have, for the most part, been inspiring and thought provoking.

201mlyn8 First Message
Jan 4, 2008, 9:31pm

I haven't read (Ladder of Years) but give ((Anne Tyler))'s newest a try -- (Digging to America). I enjoyed it very much.

Jan 4, 2008, 9:36pm

#200- No clunkers for 207? Just how old are you, keren7? ;)

Jan 5, 2008, 10:45am

#201 mlyn8, Welcome to LT! I hope you enjoy it as much as the rest of us do. By the way, if you want titles and authors to appear as links ("touchstones"), you need to use square brackets not parentheses.

Jan 5, 2008, 6:13pm

I'm glad I'm not alone with disliking Tipperary. I actually had the opportunity to be sitting in Dublin on a business trip, reading what I thought would be an at-least-decent book about Ireland. Sadly, I was disappointed. I think someone likened it somewhat to Forrest Gump -- a comparison I wholeheartedly agree with, except that the latter was more original, funny, heartwarming, and... and... just plain BETTER. Tipperary, especially with the alternating narrators, made me feel like I was reading a slightly-too-self-important historical memoir in class while being constantly interrupted by a professor to point out important things you should notice.

The other one I was disappointed with was Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor. I was intrigued by the chapter in Freakonomics which touched on Venkatesh's (the author of "Off the Books") research, but when I picked up the full tome I was sorely disappointed. I know that it's supposed to be a book presenting extensive research, but there are ways you can do it that don't make people yawn almost as soon as they open it. His research is, I think, very important -- but he could definitely use the assistance of a skilled writing partner or a better editor. I didn't even make it halfway through.

And though I can't say I disliked the last Harry Potter book as a whole, what I will say is that the very last CHAPTER of the very last book was an absolute clunker in and of itself. That single chapter deserves special mention as my overall clunker of the year.

Jan 7, 2008, 12:52pm

And though I can't say I disliked the last Harry Potter book as a whole, what I will say is that the very last CHAPTER of the very last book was an absolute clunker in and of itself. That single chapter deserves special mention as my overall clunker of the year.

Oh wow, total agreement here. I wouldn't even limit it to the final chapter (although you're right, that itself was really terrible) - I found all of the exposition in dreamland with Dumbledore to be horrible and trite.

206HPPublicLibrary First Message
Jan 7, 2008, 9:19pm

Maybe if you skim the parts about the world's fair and reread the murder bits, you'll like it more.

Jan 9, 2008, 9:51pm

#205 I agree about the dreamland bit. Wrong genre appearing there, I thought, and terribly contrived and convenient.

But I am among those who liked the epilogue of HP7 - except... no mention of George!! That made me mad.

I also didn't finish Life of Pi. Maybe I should have tried to.

My overhyped clunker of 2007 was Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. It's usually style that makes me abandon a book, and the style of Labyrinth is clunky, full of annoyingly big words where a shorter one would have been far better, and telling rather than showing bits (like 'she felt guilty and afraid'... ergh). The whole thing felt contrived and unbelievable - and I'm not talking about the timeslip or the 'magic', I mean the characters and their reactions.

I really wanted to like Middlemarch. I really really did want to, and still do. Anyone want to convince me of why it's good? All I could see was a female author with a hangup about being female, trying to prove she had as much knowledge and ability as any man. All that learned discourse getting in the way of the plot... sigh.

Edited: Mar 16, 2008, 3:11pm

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England: A Novel never lived up to its hype. Good-ish idea, but the narrator was neither someone to enjoy identifying with, nor funny enough for a parody. Lots of stuff about the nature of ideas and of writing, but ideas alone do not a novel make.

Mar 22, 2008, 12:37pm

The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle

I LOATHED that one. If I could have given it a minus five i would have..

hmm no touchstones???

Mar 26, 2008, 4:05pm

I rarely give up totally on a book but this last year I stopped reading Paradise Alley by Kevin Baker. I had read about 300 pages of this overgrown behemoth and gave up. I am so glad that I didn't pay for that book. I don't think there was one character in the book that I cared about, and when I realized that I said why am I going to continue reading this? My time is too valuable to waste it reading a book with no characters in it that I liked. Took it back to the library with great gladness in my heart and haven't regretted that decision. Maybe somebody else will read it and like it, but I don't.

I read Special Topics in Calamity Physics on the recommendation of a friend. She loved it. I thought it was okay but it could have benefited from a good editor. There were flashes of great storytelling but it got buried in too much other stuff. Still I didn't regret the time spent reading it like I did Paradise Alley. It will be a long time before I pick up another Kevin Baker book.

I loved Shadow of the Wind and have recommended it highly to many people. As somebody else said, it is a good thing that we don't like the same things. For me this story hooked me from the beginning and even though some of the plot line was predictable I kept reading long past my usual bedtime.

Mar 27, 2008, 9:01am

I got Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams as a Christmas present and read it right away. Horrible, two-dimensional, creepy, over-written tripe. Yech. I think I gave it 1/2 *. The scary part is that there are going to be more in the series.

I hadn't heard of it and the cousin who gave it to me said that it was being touted as the next HP. I love HP and this was SO not like HP.

That's the only book in 2007 that I remember disliking enough to remember.

Mar 27, 2008, 9:17am

207: Keep going with Middlemarch - I took a long time to get into it - as you say, all the talk fends off the plot for a while (mostly while you're learning about the characters), but things do happen!

I carried on basically because it's my sister's favourite book and we usually have pretty similar tastes and I'm glad I did - I ended up enjoying it very much. The depth of the characters is great and you end up genuinely caring what happens to everyone (with the possible exception of Ladislaw, who isn't entirely believable) - it's also very interesting historically - one of those books that made me want to go out and read up a bit on the background.

Mar 30, 2008, 8:25pm

212: Oh, thank you! I guess I didn't persevere for long enough, and you are inspiring me to try again. In fact, you say that at a timely moment, because I'm seriously considering joining the LT group read that looks as if it might be reading Middlemarch for the next book.

Mar 31, 2008, 8:23am

213: Oh good, I'm glad! Incidently, thanks for the LT group read link - I've been looking for something like that...

Edited: Jun 12, 2008, 9:53pm

For 2007?

The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall. Talk about not letting the past die. This book promised to be funny...but to me it just seemed like someone who wasn't clever enough to write her own novel trying to be funny by tearing a part someone else's novel, rewriting it poorly from a different point of view, and filling it with name-calling and shock value. If it hadn't been a library book I would have thrown it against the wall.

The only other disappointing one was Inkheart by Cornelia Funke I know a lot of people like it, and I was very intrigued by the story line...I just felt that it didn't quite deliver on it's promise of a good read.

I had a few other books I didn't care for, and some that were just not my style, but these two were the worst for me.

Jun 13, 2008, 9:25am

I think that Inkheart suffers from the same problems found in many translated books. They simply don't translate all that well or the language becomes clunky. Like you I thought it had much potential and in some ways was a very good story. I also think that it would have benefited from a good editor. But I think that is the fault of the editors themselves. They think that just because people read those over long Harry Potter books that they will read all over long books. I have not read the next one in the Inkheart series but do have it on my list. I do like the story line, so I think it is not the ideas but more of a mechanics of language issue.

Jun 13, 2008, 12:06pm

Jumping in a little late...

In the order I read them:

Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo -- I just could NOT get interested in this book, despite the fact that fantasy for the middle grades is my primary genre.

Magician: Apprentice -- I know it's supposed to be great, but I could not get into the story at all, I couldn't care about the characters...and decided about 77 pages in not to force myself any longer.

The Dead Father's Club by Matt Haig -- The lack of punctuation really annoyed me. Only 49 pages, I think this was the book I quit the fastest last year.

Crusader by Edward Bloor -- I felt like I was being beat over the head with a moral. I loved London Calling, but I couldn't get into this at all.

Atonement -- I know many people like this book, but I figured it out a lot about half way through (it comes from being taught, as an English major, to pay especially attention when one of the characters is a writer) and I absolutely wanted to shake Briony.

It's interesting looking at the above list, and seeing such varying responses of loved/hated books. I think many, if not all, of the books that drew really strong negative responses also draw strongly positive responses from others. I wonder how different a list would be for "OK" books or merely "disappointing, but still good"? Would there be more of a consensus, or do all books draw a variety of responses, from love to hate and everything in between?

Jun 13, 2008, 6:59pm

There are lots of books that are "disappointing but still good." In general I find that books recommended to me do meet expectations - either good or bad, so I do trust these recommendations. But sometimes one that I absolutely loved others don't like as much. Sometimes a book has to grow on the reader. The book that makes a reader think might have more of a long term impact and so my list of absolute clunkers today might vary some from the absolute clunkers of tomorrow.

There is also the part the characters play in a book. It is rare that I just quit reading a book but I did that this last year with Paradise Alley. The reason I quit reading it was because I hated the characters. There wasn't a one that I liked enough to make me continue to read that book.

Bad writing plus unsympathetic characters equals a clunker, forever. Nothing is going to redeem that kind of a book. Not even time.

Jun 20, 2008, 11:59am

I think I am alone in this but Three Cups of Tea did nothing for me.

Aug 19, 2008, 5:06pm

oh no! You're definitely not alone. I tried reading it on the kindle, and i couldn't tell (at first) if I was just not used to the format or if the book really was THAT BAD.

But after having had it a few months and read quite a few other books on it without issue I've decided it really is rather clumsy.

Aug 20, 2008, 2:33pm

I've been slogging my way through The Sex Lives of Cannibals, which has surprisingly high ratings and positive reviews here, and I just can't get through it. I only have 20 pages left, but I have no desire to do it. ugh.

Aug 20, 2008, 6:57pm

Nana by Emile Zola - The first and last 50 were the only good things about this book. So boring.

Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian - Less about story than about an encyclopaedic description of how to run a tall ship.