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Poll: More Books You Hate

I got a huge kick out of yesterday’s discussion on songs we either hated or songs that kept getting stuck in our heads. And now, although I like to think of myself as a grateful person, I’m in the mood to carp some more. So, let’s spend another day or two  ignoring all of these beady-eyed ceramic turkeys and talk about things that drive us crazy.

Like books. Certain books. Books that have no business being written or existing or…well, that may be laying in on a little thick, but if you need a quick refresher, please go back and read the poll “One book you loved, one book you hated.”

Today let’s talk about books that you:

  • Hated
  • Couldn’t finish
  • Were bored to tears by
  • Threw across the room
  • Lit on fire
  • Stole from your library just so nobody else could read them

I’ll start. I’m afraid Ulysses by James Joyce is always going to be on this list for me. I’ve gotten quite a few emails about how ignorant I am in my dismissal of this great work. I’m not dismissing it. I think it’s an amazing literary accomplishment. And I still hate it. And I won’t pick it up ever again. And the experience of trying to read it is like having a jellyfish wrapped around my face while angry sharks rip my legs off.

I bet that’s exactly what it feels like.

Your turn. Ready, set, complain.


PS: someone suggested I add Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim book to the list. I said no. It’s awesome.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bob November 3, 2010, 9:26 am

    Any book with a title including “the War on…” blah blah blah.

    • Josh Hanagarne November 3, 2010, 9:51 am

      I’m going to write The War On Bob from bibiosk8.net. You’ll come around.

  • Ryan G. November 3, 2010, 9:48 am

    The Brothers Karamazov did it for me. One character was a such a buffoon, such a droll element to read, that I had no desire to learn what happened to any of them.

    Additionally, Paradise Lost. Epic poem? Bleh.

    • Josh Hanagarne November 3, 2010, 9:55 am

      I’m about 100 pages into the Brothers Karamazov right now. I’m enjoying it so far, as much as you can enjoy something so heavy and with the mind-boggling Russian patronymics that give everyone a dozen names.

      • Jeroen November 3, 2010, 1:52 pm

        When I was 14, my father felt I was reading too much pulp fiction and forced The Brothers Karamazov on me. Good intentions, but not exactly something a 14-year old can appreciate. It ruined the Russians for me forever.

  • Heather November 3, 2010, 11:07 am

    Bridget Jones’ Diary–I threw it across the room but I WANTED to set it on fire.

    Anna Karenina–I know this is a family joint, so I won’t write the swear-word it makes me say every time I see it. But it starts with the letter F.

    From A to B and Back Again–Yeah–Warhol should have just stuck with visual art and ripping off stupid rich people. This is one that I’d like to set on fire, only to urinate on it later, because, well, you have to put a fire out somehow. .. .

    The entire Twilight series–This one inspires visions of fecal-smeared pages (as in actual feces, not just the writing), setting it on fire just to urinate on it, and mailing it to people I can’t stand. It has also inspired a t-shirt design for me: a black t-shirt with a picture of Max Schreck as Count Orlok outlined in hot pink glitter. Along the bottom, in hot-pink Gothic script, it says, “Dead ; Sexy” and on the back, in the same hot-pink Gothic script, it states TEAM ORLOK. Take THAT Stephanie Meyer!

    ANYTHING by Nicholas Sparks. You know how if you’ve accidentally ingested poison it’s always suggested that vomiting is induced? Yeah. Nicholas Sparks is PERFECT for that. But then I hate chick flicks too.

  • Eric | Eden Journal November 3, 2010, 11:36 am

    I have several books that I stopped reading part way through, but I purged that useless info from my head, so I really have no recollection of those books. Most of them were books on personal development or the paranormal, and if I get bored with them I just move on to something better.

    One book that I do remember is Atlas Shrugged. I have a love/hate with that one. I like the ideas brought forth, but I think those ideas could have been expressed effectively in about 500 pages less. That book was so long and so over the top with descriptions and imagery.

    The interesting thing about my copy is that it was very old and beat up. The binding no longer sufficiently held the pages, and I had to tape it together just to finish reading it. I was the last person to ever read that particular copy as each page I read fell from the binding. I took a little pleasure in being the last to read that copy.

    • Josh Hanagarne November 3, 2010, 1:28 pm

      Eric, Anthem by Rand is Atlas Shrugged in only 100 pages.

      • Eric | Eden Journal November 5, 2010, 11:47 am

        Dang it man, someone really should have told me that before I started that epic journey of Atlas Shrugged. It should be a required warning on the front cover of the book, like those cancer warnings on cigarettes.

  • Cathy N. November 3, 2010, 11:40 am

    I picked up one of the Twilight books and read a few pages at random, finding each more annoying than the one before.

    I read “These Is My Words” for a book club and on the recommendation of dozens of friends. HATED it. It was like a really bad fanfic.

    • Josh Hanagarne November 3, 2010, 1:27 pm

      I have heard such great things about “words.” What was the problem?

      • Megan Horton November 4, 2010, 7:43 am

        mom loved These is my words Josh

      • Cathy N. November 4, 2010, 8:42 am

        Ugh, the wifi went out as I was posting a reply. (I don’t think it will show up twice, but my apologies if it does.)

        As some other commenters have said, I’ve done my best to purge this book from my brain. But the best way I can sum it up is “bad fanfic about the author’s great-great-great-grandma.” It’s ostensibly based on fact, but almost everything in it (including a key character who is too perfect for this world) is pure speculation (albeit based on period research). I came to dread turning the pages for fear of the fresh, gratuitous horrors and misery that might await me. The gimmick is it’s in the form of a journal, but no real journal writer would bury the lead as stubbornly as this writer does. Here is a typical example. “Today dawned bright and early, the morning sun warming me with its rosy rays. Oh so quiet and peaceful as I hung out the warshing on the line. [lengthy description of the bucolic scene and idyllic life on the ranch] Then all of a sudden A TEAM OF RUNAWAY HORSES CAME BARRELING AROUND THE CORNER DRAGGING MY POOR SON WITH A QUIVER FULL OF INJUN ARROWS STICKING OUT OF HIS CHEST.” Ugh. I hated that book.

  • Chris B November 3, 2010, 11:41 am

    Lord Jim – we were supposed to read it in high school and I think I only managed about 30 pages before I chucked it under my bed for the rest of the year.

    • Josh Hanagarne November 3, 2010, 1:27 pm

      I read a condensed version of Lord Jim and thought the story was great. Tried to read the grownup version many years later and reacted just like Chris B.

    • Jodi Kaplan November 3, 2010, 1:34 pm

      Oh dear, I have that one on my nightstand in Mt. TBR.

      • Jodi Kaplan November 4, 2010, 6:33 am

        Correction: It was Lucky Jim!

        Oh, and while I’m here, I saw a lamppost the other day with graffiti that said, “Who is John Galt?.” Nice to know the local hooligans are well-read.

  • Jen H November 3, 2010, 12:00 pm

    Had to think about it a minute, but the answer is obvious:

    Celestine Prophecy: a shmaltzy, cheesy, ridiculous allegory (or an attempt at one). Can’t believe I got past the first chapter

    @Heather, I hate chick flicks too: save your soul and avoid all Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books and movies.

    • Josh Hanagarne November 3, 2010, 1:27 pm

      Never read that one. Not going to, more than likely.

  • Lynn Kilpatrick November 3, 2010, 12:56 pm

    Memoirs of a Geisha. It was like a Hollywood soap opera that just happened to be set in Japan. I did not throw it across the room or light it on fire, but those are both good suggestions.

    • Josh Hanagarne November 3, 2010, 1:26 pm

      Hated it. I saw you’re reading at the library tonight, Lynn! I’m going to try to come.

  • Jodi Kaplan November 3, 2010, 1:33 pm

    Paradise by Toni Morrison – it was the end! We all felt she’d stabbed us in the eye.

  • ami November 3, 2010, 2:07 pm

    Atonement. I tried. People I really respected insisted that it was sublime. Bleh.

    And much as I loved Dune, the subsequent books left something to be desired. Wanted to tell Herbert, ‘C’mon, you’re not even trying!”

    And A Fine Balance, perhaps in a category with The Kite Runner, for being so, so, so depressing it was almost depraved. Well written books that made me swear off reading anything else by those authors. But it makes me wonder – can a modern book be ‘good’ – and be ridiculously upbeat?

  • Shane Hudson November 3, 2010, 2:45 pm

    Probably the only book I cannot stand is Pride and Prejudice. I completely understand why Austen was such a good author and I even see how it is well written. In fact, even the satire et cetera facinating!

    But, and it may just because I did it for GCSE (though I loved A View From The Bridge), I did not even make it a quarter of the way through the book… I hated it!

    • Amanda November 4, 2010, 4:14 am

      I so agree!! P&P = pretentious twaddle for status-anxioux Gen-X chicks who want to call their kids Winston and Clementine.

  • Crysta November 3, 2010, 3:35 pm

    Faulkner. I tried to read As I Lay Dying twice, and never got very far. I tried Sound and the Fury and fared no better. I know some people swear he’s a genius, but I just couldn’t get the hang of his prose.

    • Jennifer November 4, 2010, 7:41 am

      I’m with Crysta here. Faulkner made me seethe with anger and rage. #1–I am not a fan of inner monologue and stream-of-consciousness prose; #2–I lived in the Deep South for a while and cannot STAND the whole “please have pity for our dying way of white-privilege life” schtick. I even ranted about my loathing here: http://chatwrite.wordpress.com/2007/08/06/dear-bill/

      I am currently hating on _The Hunger Games._ Can’t get past the first chapter–it’s a bit too gruesome for my bedtime reading.

  • Amanda November 4, 2010, 4:25 am

    I recently thought I would try a ‘paranormal romance’. I don’t normally read romance, but I like horror and fantasy, so I thought I’d give Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning a go.

    What a steaming load of festering TRIPE!

    It was one of the worst -and I mean WORST- books I have ever read. The main character constantly buts in with statements like: “If I had known then what I now know…” so there is no surprise, no suspense in the book whatso ever. She also talks at length about about her ‘ice lolly pink’ nail polish and blah blah brand heels and accessories.

    Then there’s a character who’s been created solely as a prop for the most ridiculous, badly written sex scene in the entire history of literary sex scenes.

    Truly, this book is good only as compost to regrow the trees whose lives were sacrificed to pollute our braincells with such vapid twaddle!

    • Chris B November 4, 2010, 7:39 am

      Yeah, I REALLY hate it that the sci fi/fantasy world has been invaded by thinly disguised romances/vampire tripe (you DEFINITELY picked the right word). It looks like my favorite genre is booming until you pick up a book and realize what it really is. GAWD I am SICK of vampires!!!!

  • Anne Bender November 4, 2010, 12:47 pm

    Oh, I really enjoyed The Celestine Prophesy (and books that followed), then again, I did read Jonathan Livingston Seagull when I was 10 and was forever changed.

    Let’s see, the only book from recent memory I could not stand was Dead Until Dark (the Sookie Stackhouse series now turned True Blood show) by Charlaine Harris. I thought the writing was simple and geared more towards a younger audience. I don’t mind Vampire fiction, but after reading the meatier (in the beginning) Anita Blake series, this one fell flat. I never saw the story in my mind, I always knew I was reading it. Pure drivel, but apparently many, many others think differently (she’s on book 10).

  • Jeff November 4, 2010, 1:24 pm

    The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. Shockingly cliched, cheesy, stilted from the first page. Yet a bestseller! I was stuck on an airplane with nothing to do, so I finished it. It never got better.

  • Kosmo @ The Soap Boxers November 4, 2010, 3:01 pm

    I wouldn’t say that I hate it, and I don’t even admit that I couldn’t finish it … but I’ve been working on The Fountainhead since 1992. I’ll probably dust it off soon, read another 50 pages, and then stick it on the shelf for another year or so.

    Oddly, I’m able to retain a decent understanding of the plot between readings. It’s just a bit slow moving for me.

  • popokigirl November 4, 2010, 5:44 pm

    When I was studying lit in grad school, there was this one epic poem called “The Faerie Queene.” However, most students knew it as “The FFQ.” ‘Nuff said.

    • Josh Hanagarne November 4, 2010, 5:48 pm

      Oh…I hate that book. I really, really do.

  • Jeanette Swalberg November 5, 2010, 8:45 am

    I didn’t exactly HATE the Twilight series (pre-read for my then 14-year-old). I just had a problem with the whole “he’s a vampire, but I love him anyways”….I could totally hear some lovestruck adolescent saying “he’s a heroin addict, but I love him anyways”….
    and was infuriated that what’sherface turned into a vampire too. What?!?!?

    I tried reading Moby Dick one summer when I was in something like eighth grade. I think I got a couple of pages into it before I gave up. Read In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex a few years back and loved it-cannibalism and all.

  • cinderkeys November 6, 2010, 12:21 pm

    Ah, The Celestine Prophecy. That was sublime in its badness. If you read it with the same mindset as you’d watch Plan 9 from Outer Space, you will have a merry time.

    The funny thing about this book? I talked to a couple of people who loved it. They thought the ideas were brilliant, but that the writing sucked.