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Poll: One Book You Loved, One Book You Hated

About a year and a half ago, I led a book-talk at work called “What Not To Read.” Each of us brought a book that we had hated. Then we tried to talk everyone else out of reading it. Some of us had finished our book, some had quit much earlier.

It was  fun.

And what we noticed was that, while we had each anticipated an entertaining, lively gripe session, we actually wound up talking more about books we loved than books we hated. (Some people really hated the Dune books).

It’s really hard to talk about the worst books of something without also talking about the best books.

My book that I hated was James Joyce’s Ulysses. I have nothing but admiration for the book today, but wow I hated it back then. My negativity had more to do with the story of how I tried (and failed) to finish the book over a period of ten years. I did finish it eventually.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us about a book you hated, give us the reasons if you can put them into words, convince us never to touch it, and then recommend something good.

It was fun then. I suspect it will be fun now.

Josh

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  • Steph April 30, 2010, 3:31 am

    I love The Creative License by Danny Gregory. It is a book that acknowledges creative people’s need to be creative, for one cannot squelch creativity forever and hope to stay sane all through life. I have written at length about this fabulous book on my site because, even though I write about the writing process and The Creative License appears to be about drawing, in reality much cross-exchange takes place among the arts. This is the reason why this book speaks on a subliminal level to every creative type out there.

    There isn’t a book I hated really, or if there is, I probably forgot about it. I’d rather think about, hug and smell (yes!) the books I love as I keep them close by for comfort during hard times.

  • Steph April 30, 2010, 3:44 am

    See what I have just done? You’re so right… I cannot even talk about a book I hated!

  • Amanda April 30, 2010, 4:09 am

    Hey Josh… You’ve asked for it now!

    First, a synopsis of a book I hated so much, I have to restrain myself from violence every time I see it:

    Whine, whine, whine, whine, pasta, whine, whine, pasta, pasta, whine, whine, pasta, pasta, pasta, whine, whine, chant, whine whine, whine, whine, chant, whine, woo woo, whine, whine, woo woo, fall in love with billionaire.

    The book in question? Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert. A nailgun to the head is ten times better and will kill far fewer neurons than reading this book.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 12:06 pm

      Still haven’t tried Eat, Pray, Love. My agent recommended it and I still can’t do it. You have written a wonderfully repulsive description up there:)

  • Meryl Evans April 30, 2010, 5:48 am

    I just finished a book that’s one of the worst reads ever: Wish You Were Here by Stuart O’Nan. Like watching paint dry.

    I loved The Blind Side by Michael Lewis. That’s the kind of story I’d love to write — since I write non-fiction. So it’s what I’d use as an example if the opportunity ever comes up. Although, I’d cut down on the lengthy discussion of the changing game and Bill Walsh.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 12:08 pm

      Haven’t read either, slightly intrigued by both.

  • Elisabeth Eilir Rowan April 30, 2010, 6:08 am

    We often hate ‘classics’ we are forced to read in school. I despise Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Old Man and the Sea’. ‘He looked at his hand, he looked at the bird.’ I mean really, I know Hemingway is rather terse, but he repeats this for how many pages?

    One classic I love (although I read it on my own, not as an assignment, so there may be something to that) was ‘The Three Musketeers’. It has riveting action, humour, and is generally just fun. It is not the dry, difficult reading we usually associate with school assignments. And yes, I went back and read more Dumas just for fun.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 12:08 pm

      I really like The 3Ms. Humor doesn’t age well, and that book is still funny to me.

      I’ve never been a big Hemingway fan.

  • Elisabeth Eilir Rowan April 30, 2010, 6:09 am

    Or was it a fish he looked at? I don’t remember, I’ve tried to block that book from my mind. 🙂

  • Amanda April 30, 2010, 6:30 am

    …And the one book I loved:

    The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. This book made me laugh, made me cry. It touched my soul.

    Read it.

  • Neil April 30, 2010, 6:30 am

    I really can’t stand “Nausea” by Jean-Paul Sartre. It was his attempt at a “novel”. Yeah yeah, very important philosopher and all; but this book is right up there with “Ulysses” in terms of shear pain. I’ve tried to get through this book at least half a dozen times and I give up because it’s so darn depressing. Lot of layers to this book, but you need a chainsaw to get through them. And lots and lots of patience.

    Anyway, I have a bookshelf full of love. If I start to hate a book, I usually end up giving it away. I just finished re-reading “Mythology” by Edith Hamilton. I love coming back to this book every few years to relive my Greco-Roman-Nordic mythological day-dreams.

    I also love reading “Status Anxiety” by Alain de Botton every couple years. Actually, anything by de Botton is an entertaining and enlightening read.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 12:09 pm

      I read Nausea and thought “boo hoo.” I LOVED Last Exit, however.

  • Jodi Kaplan April 30, 2010, 7:12 am

    I congratulate you for even attempting to read Ulysses (shudders). I recently tried to read Wolf Hall. It’s up for all sorts of awards. It’s historical fiction (which I like). After days of trying, I couldn’t get past p. 100. It was slow, turgid, and deathly dull. A friend tried to read it twice (and gave up both times).

    We gave it our “Dorothy Parker rating.”

    “This book should not be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

    Book I loved? Cannery Row. I love the way Steinbeck put words together and painted such vivid pictures of his characters (and they were all such characters). His portraits are tender, while still being clear-eyed, and never, ever maudlin.

    Oh, and speaking of books, thanks for the recommendation to read Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel. Love how his art teacher told him that if he kept drawing that way he’d never be successful. Ha!

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 12:10 pm

      It took me about a dozen tries and 10 years to get through Ulysses.

      I might be the biggest Dorothy Parker fan out there. You get more appealing to me every day, Jodi.

  • ami April 30, 2010, 7:47 am

    LOVE: (today) The Hobbit, even though I recently read that Tolkien dismissed it as fluff and less important than his academic work (Pah – academic work. what did he know?)

    HATE: (recently) Atonement. So many people told me I *should* read this, *have to* read this, if I’m really a writer I will be knocked over by this book. Blah. Couldn’t get past the no-action first 100 pages. And I must have lost the patience I had developed in order to read Dickens (talk about no action first 300 pages! But the last 700 pages always rocked).

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 12:10 pm

      I haven’t tried Atonement yet. May never get to it. And hats off to you for getting through some Dickens. I’ve read most of his stuff, but just dip into it occasionally.

  • Joshua Black | The Underdog Millionaire April 30, 2010, 7:56 am

    I can never get enough of Catcher in the Rye. I read it at least once a year, own about 12 copies, so I can give them to people who say “I’ve never read that.”

    …going to commit blasphemy now and say that my most hated books are the entire Shakespeare catalog… It’s like pulling teeth for me to read them and I know that I am quite in the minority on this one.

    @ Jodi- Dorothy Parket is my hero. She’s awesome… I even went the see the Algonquin in New York just for the hero-worship factor.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 12:11 pm

      I’ve never enjoyed reading Shakespeare. I love his stories and his place as THE GUY in literary history is well-deserved. Everything is an homage to him in one way or another.

      Doesn’t make it fun for me, though.

  • Casey (North and Clark) April 30, 2010, 8:02 am

    Loved: Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
    Hated: Sarah Bishop

    Can’t remember what was so bad about Sarah Bishop any more. But as a 6th grader I was miserable reading this thing, and thought I would never read a historical fiction again. Years later I discovered the Hornblower series and saw how wrong I was.

  • Andrew April 30, 2010, 8:58 am

    I’m finding it hard to think of anything because I just forget bad books so quickly… C’mon, I remember I used to gripe about some really pretentious novels…

    AH yes, the Earthsea Quartet. Earthsea, how do I hate you? Let me count the ways…

    It’s such a bad series of books I can literally not remember much of it at all, even though I struggled through most of it. It’s pretentious, done by someone who is obviously “trying” to sound deep. You know, that “trying” that comes from someone who has been trained by school literacy classes to write not to please themselves but to please an external aribiter. Someone who has forgotten how to tap the sea of creativity that resides within their soul but has learnt exactly how to get a superficial seal of approval from others equally disconnected as he.

    The main character is forgettable, basically the only thing that stands out about him is that he is a talented wizard. I can’t even remember who the nemesis was, if there was one, I think there must have been. The world was forgettable, I can’t remember anything about it except it had a lot of sea in it. The system of magic (something that I like to play about with, I’m into dungeons and dragons games and fantasy in general) was frustratingly non wondrous. I mean when you think magic you want something that blows your mind, opens you up to vast expanses and incredible wonders like a mountaintop panorama. But no, the author did something unthinkable with the magic in Earthsea… it was… boring.

    I’m just having these flashes of different, better books which Earthsea tried to be but wasn’t. The Lord of the Rings, oh God the Lord of the Rings was a brilliant book. Earthsea, can’t you see where Tolkien wins and you don’t? Can’t you see the vastness, the personability, the epicness, the openness, the aliveness of his work, which you tried to imitate but failed?

    And what about Shakespeare. Oh God, Shakespeare. The sheer tear inducing beauty of his evert perfectly crafted word. The daring, the ALIVENESS!

    Earthsea, can’t you see how tiny you are compared to that?

    Give it up, Earthsea. You’re not big just because you use big words. You’re nothing. I’d probably never even have thought of you again in my life if it weren’t for this discussion.

  • Mary Jo April 30, 2010, 9:10 am

    Best: To Kill a Mockingbird. Hands down, no contest, this is my all-time favorite book. And I even like the movie! I read this when I was a kid and wanted to grow up to be Atticus Finch. I think the book shaped my world view of social justice from a very young age.

    Worst: Eat, Pray, Love. I wanted to like it, really I did. But found that it was just more self indulgent whining. I tried to look at just a travel book (overlooking the personal story), but it didn’t even convey a sense of place to me.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 7:23 pm

      All right, that’s two hates for eat pray love.

  • Professor Beej April 30, 2010, 9:21 am

    I hated hated hated Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk. It was garbage. I went in expecting his trademark wit and humor and instead I got a book written entirely in broken English that physically gave me a headache before I had read 4 pages. I decided that was it, and I have never gone back.

    I can’t remember ever being so vehemently disappointed in a book, as I eagerly await his every release. That one, however, was not the same kind of disturbing social commentary I had come to love. Instead, I got an experiment that should have been caught by an editor at some point before publication.

    • Professor Beej April 30, 2010, 9:23 am

      Oh, and I forgot to recommend something good. I would go for “Old Man’s War” by John Scalzi. It’s quick and fun SF that works as a counterpoint to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Think about joining the army at 70 years old and being sent off into interstellar combat. Fantastic.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 7:24 pm

      I absolutely love chuck, and absolutely hated pygmy.

  • Lynn Kilpatrick April 30, 2010, 9:26 am

    Hated: Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Tried to read it. So over written, I hated the narrator within ten pages, so I threw it aside with great force.

    Loved: So many!! How can I choose just one? I’ll give an ironic favorite: How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read. So entertaining. And a real, true favorite: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Great title, great narrator.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 7:24 pm

      Lynn, I love you. special topics was one of the few books I’ve completely given up on after one chapter. I just could not do it.

  • Justin Matthews April 30, 2010, 10:06 am

    The book I loathed the most in high school was Wuthering Heights. Still don’t get why it is a “classic” I think it is not. I remember telling my British Lit teacher “I can’t read this it is terrible. I will finish it with cliff notes and take the test as well as i can” Luckily it was an essay test and I BS’ed my way through for a B+ if I remember right. Still can’t bring myself to try it again.

    As for a book I love, Shane by Jack Schaefer. The movie is good but, of course, not as good as the book. I must have read this 25 times through school. the gunfighter trying to mend his ways but needs to clean up the town and has to move on at the end….Fantastic!

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 7:25 pm

      Hard to argue with cleaning up the town for a good old time.

  • Yanina Wolfe April 30, 2010, 10:17 am

    Back in high school we read the “Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and something inside of me completely despised the book. I can’t for the life of me remember anything about it (which is the true mark of my ire since I have a fantastic memory for books, but obviously not ones I hate). I guess I wanted to get that book out my head. Honestly, I don’t know why I hated it. I liked Shakespeare and mostly everything thrown at me–but that book…
    I would’ve said “Streetcar Named Desire”–but I didn’t know if a play counted.

    I love “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I re-read it every few years. The chapter with the fox is perhaps the most honest depiction of love and friendship I have come across.

  • Larissa April 30, 2010, 11:23 am

    Okay, I’m ready to admit it. . . I hate Anna Karenina. I really have never had this much trouble finishing a book. But, for whatever reason, every time I pick up this stupid book, I fall asleep or start daydreaming! One day I will conquer it. . . maybe when I am 80. .
    And the first book to pop into my mind when thinking about a book that I love is The BFG by Roald Dahl. I cannot tell you how many times I read this book when I was 9. It was a difficult time in my life, and that book was total escape for me. The funny thing is that I don’t remember a lot of the details of it. So, this is a good reminder to get it out to read to the boys. I’m sure they’ll love it as much as I did. 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 7:26 pm

      I like AK, but I’ve only eve gotten through it on audio.

  • Mars Dorian April 30, 2010, 11:53 am

    Boy, interesting question.

    The Great Gatsby, which our English teacher made us endure – I still throw up only thinking about the book – the whole language, the style and story – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    But beside that, the Perfume is BY FAR one of my all-time favorites !

    • Meryl Evans April 30, 2010, 2:17 pm

      By Patrick Suskind? The first one that appears in search is Spanish edition and then a whole bunch of others.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 7:26 pm

      All right, two strikes for gatsby.

  • JoAnna April 30, 2010, 11:54 am

    Loved: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I absolutely could not put it down. She did a stellar job of telling the story from so many different angles. I can’t wait to read more of her stuff, but I know I need to set aside more time because chances are I’ll get so caught up in the book I won’t be able to do anything else.

    Hated: Everyone hates me every time I say it, but I really, truly can not stand The Diary of Anne Frank. I know she didn’t write it with the intention of it being published, but it was, and it is, by far, the most boring piece of work out there. Day by day by day … I admit I still haven’t gotten all the way through it, though I did try on three different occasions.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 7:27 pm

      I didn’t mind Anne frank, but don’t love it. I really enjoyed poisonwood bible.

  • chip April 30, 2010, 12:12 pm

    Hated: A Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. it wasn’t

    Loved: Life of Pi. A great imaginative story.

    • David Cain April 30, 2010, 3:11 pm

      Ah, Life of Pi was so good. I read it in one solid stretch on a 17-hour busride. I’ll read it again one day.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 7:28 pm

      Sort of loved the Dave eggers. Absolutely adore life of pi. Just finished martells new one. Not really a fan.

  • Marla April 30, 2010, 2:53 pm

    “River of the Brokenhearted” by David Adams Richards was depressing and tiresome. I gave up about halfway through because I had stopped caring about what happened to any of the characters and didn’t want to waste anymore time on it. There’s so many good books out there to read…why spend time on ones I don’t like?

    “Fight Club” is a perennial favourite. I’ve read it many times and always enjoy it.

  • David Cain April 30, 2010, 3:06 pm

    Great Expectations by Dickens. It just seemed so completely irrelevant to my life. I didn’t like any of the characters, and the words were really small and there were too many of them.

    A book I LOVED was The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester. It’s about a hilariously snooty British expat living in France, relating his hatred for the UK by comparing international cuisines. I know that doesn’t sound compelling, but it is absolutely worth a read. The main character is such an awful person, but he’s irresistibly snarky.

    • David Cain April 30, 2010, 3:10 pm

      Oh wait I change my most hated book to The Great Gatsby. Pretty much for the same reasons though: I hated all the characters and could not find anything relevant in the story.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 7:29 pm

      I’m going to look up that Lancaster. You’ve mentioned it to me before.

      • David Cain May 1, 2010, 5:03 pm

        Yes, and I read another of his that was well worth it, called Mr Phillips. It’s about a sheepish accountant who gets fired in the morning, and spends the whole day wandering the city so that he won’t startle his wife by coming home early. It’s third person but much of the narrative is totally in his head.

  • The Frugal Hostess April 30, 2010, 6:33 pm

    Most hated book of all time: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. OMG. Could not be more boring or annoying. Other classics I hate: Ethan Frome, The Last of the Mohicans, Ulysses (I’d rather eat a worm sandwich). Popular modern classic that I would like to burn: On Beauty. Retch.
    Most loved books of all time: I’ve seriously typed and erased 44 titles. Nostalgic favorites are Tender is the Night and Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters. Hotel New Hampshire. Sweet Thursday and Cannery Row (someone else had those, I think). And all the Little House books. I love that the language grows up as the readers do – the 1st one is very simple, and they get more complex over time.

    • The Frugal Hostess April 30, 2010, 6:34 pm

      I should have said that it’s me, not you, when it comes to On Beauty – I know I’m wrong for hating it but I can’t help it.

    • Meryl Evans May 1, 2010, 5:52 am

      I read Darkness in college and didn’t get why so many people love it. The only good that came out of it is the fact I read it.

    • David Cain May 1, 2010, 5:05 pm

      Ahh I looooved Heart of Darkness. I have to say though that it took me forever to get through the first half of it, even though it’s only 71 pages. What I liked about it wasn’t the story so much as the way Conrad uses the language. Can’t think of any examples though. I can easily understand disliking it.

  • Farnoosh ~ Prolific Living April 30, 2010, 7:03 pm

    Oh Gosh I better not read these comments. Did I read Wuthering Heights is not a classic (or a brilliant singular masterpiece)….Ok ok, a book I hated (I tried to read it 3 times and finally last week I gave up) is Lolita by Nabokov. I simply cannot get into the sick mind of Humbert and stay locked up in it. I simply give up. A book I love through and through is Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy’s beautiful novel, a novel that now puts a bitter taste in my mouth for anything less..Tolstoy is the supreme Russian artist and quite possibly, the greatest novelist. There are no words to describe Anna K., none that I can come up with (and when I do, I’ll write the blog book review). Until then, my vote is Tolstoy!

    • Josh Hanagarne April 30, 2010, 7:29 pm

      I love lolita for the writing and hate it for the content. Gorgeous and hideous.

  • Armen Shirvanian April 30, 2010, 7:54 pm

    Hi Josh.

    I would say that one book I certainly liked a lot was The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. I felt like it fit well with what I wanted to know more about at the time, and still am glad to know. I mostly stick to nonfiction books.

    As for a book I didn’t like, there was this book Kon Tiki in a classroom I was in long ago that was one of about 20 books that would be given for people to read during some time that I forgot about(like punishment or something), so I got this feeling of it as the most boring book possible, although I haven’t read it.

    • Paul May 27, 2010, 10:41 am

      I read Kon Tiki many years ago, but here are my recollections. The book is about a bunch of 1940s Norwegians that decide to float across the Pacific, from Ecuador to Polynesia, on a raft. A lot of the story revolves around eating fish, but usually in funny ways. (Their mishaps with the spark-prone radio are especially amusing.) The writing isn’t great, but the story is weird, different and a lot of fun. I’d encourage you to give it another shot, though I don’t recommend the book about Egypt from the same author.

  • jodi Kaplan May 1, 2010, 6:10 am

    @Josh:
    @JoAnnna: If you haven’t already done so, read “Things Fall Apart.” It’s a similar story to Poisonwood, but written from the Nigerians’ point of view.
    @Armin: KonTiki is a good book. It’s the true adventure story of six men who sailed across the Pacific (from Peru to Polynesia) in a primitive balsa wood raft — in 1947. They barely had radio contact, no computers, no satellite, no cell phones.
    @Josh B (and other Shakespeare haters): The problem may be that it was meant to be performed (not read). Works much better on stage than on the page.

  • jodi Kaplan May 1, 2010, 6:12 am

    Oops! That first line should say (blushing). I typed it in carets, which must have made it invisible.

  • Jen May 1, 2010, 11:46 am

    Hated: Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz. I felt betrayed by the end of the book. It was like being in a dysfunctional relationship; I should have seen the red flags along the way. It started out well enough, but he had this clown/circus theme that kept coming around that he dragged out too long. What he thought was a clever twist was just stupid. I would have just stopped reading, but since I had already invested time, and there were only like 20 pages left, I begrudgingly finished it, even though I didn’t care how it ended anymore.

    Loved: Lots, but the two that come to mind first-Shantaram by David Gregory (autobiographic fiction). Best opening line ever:

    “It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to be in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.”

    & Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (retelling of the Cupid/Psyche story from the perspective of Psyche’s sister).

    • David Cain May 1, 2010, 5:12 pm

      I’ve had dysfunctional relationships with Dean Koontz books too. “False Memory” was one of them. The characters just start behaving in an inexplicable manner, and he doesn’t even begin to let on why for like 200 pages. I can’t bear with him that long.

      Joy Fielding did the same thing to me, only worse. “Whispers and Lies” had me hooked from the start. I read it in a day, even skipping classes to continue reading. I got to the incredibly stupid ending that night and literally threw it across the room. It stole my day.

      • Jen May 1, 2010, 7:00 pm

        It’s nice to know I’m not the only person who has been disappointed by Dean Koontz. It was a shame, too, because his dialogue can really be quite clever and the initial story can be compelling.

        I boycotted his books for a year after that. Maybe it was an overreaction, but for some reason, if you invest time in something, (like the Fielding book you mentioned) and if it then disappoints so horribly, it feels like a betrayal somehow.

  • Jen May 1, 2010, 11:49 am

    Oops, got his name all out of order: Gregory David Roberts is the author.

  • Andrew Frenette May 2, 2010, 7:43 am

    William Gibson’s Neuromancer – loved it. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies – hated it.

  • Shane Hudson May 2, 2010, 1:05 pm

    One of the very few books I have ever put down was Pride and Prejudice. I completely appreciate why it is a classic and she was such a good author… but I cannot read the book! Perhaps it was because it was for school, I just was not able to read it.

    The same happened with To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, but when I picked it up the second time (luckily before the essay deadline!) I absolutely loved it.

    As for my favourite… I have no idea. I read fantasy books often (I have read 14 of Kelley Armstrong books and was thrilled to be able to interview her!) but appreciate a whole variety.

    I do not often read Sci-Fi so Blood Music is one that I remember well and enjoyed a lot.

  • Adi_j0jeL May 3, 2010, 6:49 am

    I like to read books from representative authors from every century to have an idea about how life was for people living in the past and how they imagined the future.
    Authors and books I love are: Boccaccio with Filocolo and The Decameron, much of Dickens books (e.g Hard Times), Thomas Hardy historic and love themed books and H.G. Wells – War of the worlds.
    I don’t have books to hate because I choose very carefully the authors/books that i want to read; sometimes I spend hours to inform myself about the author life and his books.
    Now I started to read Dune by Frank Herbert, a promising book..

  • Jacque May 3, 2010, 3:35 pm

    I love Tender is the Night. I never like any of Fitzgerald’s characters, they are all too miserable and self absorbed to like. But I love the way Fitzgerald writes, his use of language.

    I too hated The Last of the Mohicans, it was torturous to read. There is a funny essay Mark Twain wrote about Cooper’s writing style that always gives me a fit of giggles

    • Josh Hanagarne May 4, 2010, 11:25 am

      That’s my all-time favorite Twain essay. “Flung down and danced upon.” 🙂

  • K.sol May 3, 2010, 5:27 pm

    I’ve read so many books I’ve loved, that books I hate actually stand out more.

    Hate – Portnoy’s Complaint. Anything by Philip Roth, really. I picked it up at a thrift store, after I’d been forced to read another Roth book in a book group. I thought maybe his earlier stuff might have been better. I was wrong. It’s the only book I think I have physically thrown in the trash in mid-read.

    Also hate — One Thousand White Women. Friend recommended it, I loved the twisted reality premise, had great hopes. Ack! Main character unbelievable, rest of the characters were stereotypes, too painful even to read when it was the only thing I had on an airplane. Dreadful.

    • Josh Hanagarne May 4, 2010, 11:25 am

      I think Roth has some beautiful, wonderful moments, but I’ve never really “enjoyed” reading one of his books.

  • Erin May 4, 2010, 7:47 pm

    Hate: I could not stand any of the characters in Wuthering Heights (Bronte)

    Love: The Giver (Lowry)

  • Paul May 27, 2010, 10:46 am

    Love/hate: anything by John Grisham. Each story establishes a really interesting premise in the first 40 pages and then spends the rest of the book building towards the obvious and unsurprising conclusion. It doesn’t help that (roughly) the same cast of characters can be found in all of Grisham’s books, or at least the ones I have read.

  • Reid October 27, 2010, 5:03 pm

    hate life of pi. reading it in school. i cannot stand the way it is written, the author seems like someone who would piss me off. im not even half way done, and everything the author is for, all of his values that he expresses through pi, i do not agree with at all. to hell with the plot and whether its an entertaining story or not, thats not the point of fiction! i think Yann Martell even says something to that appeal in the authors note! its about bringing out the essence of the story, not just telling the story. and the essence he brings out of his story is annoying. his opinion on zoo’s, his religious affiliation and opinion of atheists vs. agnostics, it just gets on my every nerve. i cant stand people that are like him. bad book, in my opinion, but still i can see why other people like it…

    good book: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin… i dont know why exactly. its hard to articulate but i really enjoyed this book, and im looking forward to be done with the “life of pi” in school so that i can continue to the next book of the series…

  • Melissa June 15, 2011, 11:54 pm

    Hated hated hated hated Great Expectations and Collapse (by Jared Diamond). Couldn’t get through Collapse, all I heard in my head was Jared Diamond telling me how he was so much smarter than me.
    I also hate Nicholas Sparks. They are good for a good cry (which is the ONLY reason they are written), but that’s pretty much it.

    I love A Fine Balance and anything written by Cormac McCarthy (BLOOD MERIDIAN- BEST BOOK EVER).