A collection of books that, for one reason or another, I completely despise.
These are made up of books that I’ve tried to read and not have been able to finish. Of books I have finished and found out what a colossal waste of time they were. And books I loathe on principle that I will read just so I can have ammunition with which I can destroy them.
Books that I’ve tried to read and not have been able to finish:
Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk. The book had promise. The premise was great. And I love Palahniuk’s nihilistic post-modernism. Unfortunately, after just a few pages, I had given myself such a headache trying to decipher the broken English that I just gave up and returned the book to the library. Pygmy is a book that held so much promise, but due to Palahniuk having established himself as “the weird guy,” an editor somewhere gave the go-ahead on his experimental prose and published one of the worst books I have ever had the misfortune to read. I’m just thankful that I borrowed this one from the library instead of buying it.
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. Once upon a time, way back when Beej was a freshman in high school, his friends told him about this fantastic fantasy series called The Wheel of Time. Beej loved fantasy novels like The Lord of the Rings, so he eagerly went to the bookstore and bought the first volume in the series. He was intimidated by the book’s length, but after his freshman year, he still hadn’t finished the book. Years passed, and he would pick it up occasionally and get into the narrative again. Eventually, though, the boring parts dragged on and on, and he decided that in order for him to live Happily Ever After, he and The Eye of the World would have to part ways. They could still be friends, but Beej realized that Robert Jordan might be good at worldbuilding, but he sure wasn’t too good at making it interesting to read about. The end.
Ulysses by James Joyce. Okay, technically, this one isn’t a “haven’t been able to finish” as much as it is a “will not finish for any amount of money or pride on the face of the earth.” When I was in graduate school, I had to read the first ten chapters of this book. And I did. After being subjected to paragraph upon unconnected, stream of consciousness paragraph, I swore I would never read the rest of the book. And I never will. Ten chapters is quite enough, and while I can intellectually appreciate the effort and academic reasons Ulysses is considered a “great work of literature,” I will never be able to enter into that conversation. And I’m happier because of it.
Books I have finished and found out what a colossal waste of time they were:
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. I loved The DaVinci Code. I loved Angels and Demons even more than that. So when The Lost Symbol was announced, I was excited. Unfortunately, the book itself was so full of crap that “full of crap” can’t even begin to tell just how full of crap it was. It wasn’t Brown’s writing style, either; that’s easily looked past. It was the content. It was trite and full of clichés. Even the denouement of the novel made me literally yell “Bullshit!” at the speaker in my car when the audiobook got to a certain part. I’m all about the willing suspension of disbelief, but sometimes an author asks too much. And sometimes, Dan Brown, you can let that cash cow go. If there’s another Robert Langdon novel, I’ll read the reviews first because The Lost Symbol was bad enough that I won’t subject myself to that again.
Beloved by Toni Morrison. The part about Beloved that makes me the saddest is that I think Toni Morrison is a very talented writer. Song of Solomon will very likely make it onto a literature syllabus of mine at some point in the future. Unfortunately, Beloved takes horror/ghost story conventions and makes them so that I just don’t care. Yes, what happened to the slaves was terrible. Yes, literature needs to be written about it. No, that literature does not have to be so dense and wordy that reading each paragraph is like chewing off my food. And no, that literature does not need a moral/theme that beats me over the head at every turn. I’m a smart cookie; I can figure it out on my own.
Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. If you know me, you know I love Stephen King. But that doesn’t mean he can do no wrong. In fact, he did quite wrong with Gerald’s Game. I was intrigued by the premise: a man dies on top of his wife while are having sex, and she is handcuffed to the bed. Hilarity should have ensued. Or at least, a very interesting story. But no, all I got was an unsympathetic first-person narrator and a whole lot of daddy issues that ruined what could have been a perfectly fine horror novel. What made it so bad was that it was completely unbelievable. King’s strongest trait as a writer is making the ordinary person seem extraordinary enough to live through these situations. The entire time, I was hoping that the main character would die so the book would end. A classic example of a great idea ruined by a truly craptastic execution.
Books I loathe on principle that I will read just so I can have ammunition with which I can destroy them:
The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. In case you missed the message last year’s Anti-Twilight Week was sending, I don’t particularly care for Twilight. Nor have I actually read the last three books in the series. But I need to. I am loathe to start because it will take time away from actual literature that’s worth reading, but I feel that as someone who feels so strongly against them, I need to have as much first-hand ammunition as I can to refute their worth with specific examples of just why they are harmful and subversive. Heck, I will probably end up reading The Host just so I can compare notes and hit it from all angles. In a lot of ways Twilight is the book that I love to hate more than any other. But that doesn’t mean I like it, nor does it mean that it’s worth reading. But I will.
Am I being too rough?
Maybe I am. But to me, these books sucked. Bad. As Homer Simpson once said, they are the suckiest suck that ever sucked a suck. Don’t believe me? Fine. But just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
What about you, dear readers? What would you classify as the worst books ever? And why? Sound off in the comments!