Question of the Week #14: Books You Hate
Welcome back after a 3-day weekend (for lots of you, I hope)!
We heard about lots of unique and romantic literary crushes last week--so to balance that sweetness, this week I am asking a slightly modified version of the question @EDITHJWHARTON suggested recently. (Thanks!)
Which book (or story or play) did you absolutely, completely, utterly hate? Why?
I really hated Edgar Huntley; or, Memoirs of a Sleep Walker by Charles Brocken Brown (written in 1799). I had to read it for a class in college, and it was long, and confusing, and boooooring. The main character spends a lot of time wandering around in the woods, and there is a panther, and some Native Americans, or something? Not a good sign that, despite reading the entire book and discussing it for weeks, I cannot recall more than that about the plot. Those are weeks of my reading life that I would like back.
Your turn. Release your rage below, and let the healing begin.
Although I think a few of his books and stories are ok, I'm generally a Hemingway hater. For Whom the Bell Tolls is an especially good example of the kind of weirdo masculinity / angst-ridden young man (and then the accompanying portrayal of female characters) stuff I hate.
Feb 17, 2009 11:36 am
I really cannot think of a book that I really truly hate, although one that I did find that the world could have gone without was a biography on Gloria Vanderbilt. I'm not sure exactly how it came to be in my house, but it was, so I read it. Not the best experience.
Feb 17, 2009 5:20 pm
Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. I don't think I have ever forgiven my favourite professor for making us read this book.
Feb 18, 2009 11:26 am
Not so much a book as a writer: Joseph Conrad. I've only ever managed to get right through one of his books - 'Lord Jim', and have found myself utterly unable to persevere with any of the others. This, from someone who will read the back of a cornflakes packet if there's nothing else available! He's the only writer who has ever actually bored me.
Feb 18, 2009 11:27 am
I very rarely really hate a book. But I'll admit that The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber just really frustrated me. I only ever read the first 1/4 of the book before putting it away because I couldn't stand to read anymore.
Feb 18, 2009 11:44 am
And another one...Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Everyone kept telling me that I had to persevere, that it gets better but after 200 pages I felt I had wasted enough of my precious reading time.
Feb 18, 2009 1:30 pm
I don't like chicklit. My aunt keeps sending me those for Christmas or Birthdays because she and her daughter enjoy them... I feel if I say something about it I might come off too snobby so I just tell her I read it and enjoyed it, when actually I sell them for cash!!!
Feb 18, 2009 6:48 pm
I've hated Hemingway for as long as I knew that he existed. Something about his self-congratulatory demeanor and relentless Fitzgerald reverence (another writer I'm not crazy about) really bothers me.
But in the way of books (as opposed to writers), Vonnegut's first novel - Player Piano - seemed as though it was a little juvinile and undeveloped, although I'm a diehard Vonnegut fan.
Feb 19, 2009 10:26 am
That book The Corrections that was a big seller a couple years ago. An author I was editing for asked me to read it, to see what her book "absolutely must not sound like", and so I suffered through the horrible, melodramatic sludge that was that book. It's alright though, it's over now.
Feb 19, 2009 11:56 am
Thanks for picking my question! Believe it or not.....ETHAN FROMME!!
Feb 20, 2009 1:07 pm
Oh I forgot to say -why I so disliked it. When Edith Wharton was initially introduced to Henry James, his sage advice was to write about New York-really to say that she should write about what she knew. While often mandatory high school reading, the story of Ethan Fromme is not about what Edith knew. Her NY based novels are masterpieces. I always think that the fact that so many kids are only exposed to Ethan might turn them off from the great novels of Edith Wharton.
Feb 20, 2009 1:21 pm
I absolutely hated Love in the Time of Cholera. None of the characters were likeable at all, it contained some really bizarre and disturbing story elements (suicides and paedophilia), and the pinnacle of the story is that the two main characters who were then old, and suffering from bowel related issues, finally make love. I cannot believe this book is so highly rated. Ughh.
Jul 14, 2009 2:58 pm
I hated "Timbuktu" by Paul Auster. He was an author I used to love. City of Glass, Music of Chance, Moon Palace, all old faves of mine. But he lost me with Timbuktu. From the 1st person perspective of a dog? Hated it.
Jul 15, 2009 12:28 pm
@Lolabean, I totally agree...I really tried hard to like Love in the Time of Cholera and stuck with it much longer than I normally would with a book I'm not into. But in the end I had to give up. Just didn't like anything about it.
Jul 16, 2009 2:05 pm
Easy, 100 Years of Solitude--despise it. I've attempted to read it 4 times; finally, I just threw it in the box for folks at the thrift store. I think it's arguably the most overrated work in literature along with Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom. Oddly, I liked Love in the Time of Cholera--more lucid.
Jul 16, 2009 11:01 pm
Love this thread, great excuse never to bother attempting Love in the Time of Cholera! Wasn't there a Hollywood film recently based on the book which is also supposed to be terrible? My nomination for worst book ever is Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled. It is long, unbelievably dull, introverted and dream like. Can't believe it got such good reviews! Has anyone else attempted it, would love to know what you thought? Though strangely amazed at his other book Never Let Me Go, still thinking about it a couple of years after reading it.
Jul 17, 2009 10:30 am
@evilbendyone Ishiguro is one of my favorite authors. The Remains of the Day is gorgeous, and Never Let Me Go is completely different but just as amazing. I've been meaning to go back and read some of Ishiguro's earlier work--including A Pale View of the Hills--but haven't had a chance yet. Have others attempted The Unconsoled? I'd love to hear some more feedback!
Jul 17, 2009 11:57 am
by MaggieH (admin)
Ishiguro is definitely a favorite of mine too. I did read The Unconsoled; but my feelings are ambivalent; I've read earlier Ishiguro work such as A Pale View of Hills, a great work in my opinion, as well as An Artist of the Floating World; both of these works were much more superior than The Unconsoled. It seems Ishiguro was experiencing with his vision of the novel, and I think his reading of Kafka played a major influence in that work. I agree it does tend to drag. In hindsight, it needed to be condensed. His work centers on memory and interpretation, but I feel with The Unconsoled he really made it a stretch, perhaps because the main character really doesn't illicit empathy.
Jul 18, 2009 6:10 pm
I really could not stand Wuthering Heights. I found Heathcliff and Catherine to be very disagreeable. I could hardly stand them.
Jul 18, 2009 10:14 pm
It is rare for me to give up on a book but Martin Amis' "London Fields" forced me to surrender. If ever a book was over-hyped (band-wagon riding, i guess), this has to qualify. I'm not a prude by ANY means but the foul language seemed entirely gratuitous to me and as for plot........
Jul 19, 2009 7:54 am
I can't imagine why anyone would read it without being assigned for a lit class, but I absolutely loathed and detested "A rebours" (Against Nature) by Joris-Karl Huysmans, and I rarely hate any piece of literature. Even so, I could see the art of it in certain sections, but it was miserable overall.
Jul 19, 2009 2:28 pm
Ok. Read on here that Joseph Conrad is one of the hated writers. I kind of have to agree. His writing is pretty awesome taken in bits and pieces but his short story "Heart of Darkness" seemed like it was 1236 pages instead of 160 or whatever it was. And I still never really found out about Kurtz. Maybe its just me......
Jul 20, 2009 12:54 pm
Thanks roaming_smile, I though I was the only one, but I never really liked Wuthering Heights either, in fact, I don't think I ever finished reading it, it was sooooooooooo boring, and I did not like the charcters at all. Another boring book: Getting Things Done by David Allen. That book is one of the things I cannot get done, soooo slow...
Jul 21, 2009 10:47 am
Catch-22. I understood it's meaning (or at least I think I do) but Joseph Heller had a rather tedious way of presenting it. It's a book that required extra motivation on my part.
Jul 28, 2009 6:21 pm
I would have to agree with other readers here. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness came to mind immediately when I saw the topic question. I had to read this in college and couldn't get through it.
Jul 30, 2009 1:20 pm
I know people are going to hate me for saying this but I really hated J.D. Salingers "Catcher In The Rye". I remember reading it in the 8th grade and hating it. Then I decided to read it again my Jr. year in high school to see if I felt different about. I never really thought I'd "hate" a book because the author puts a lot of effort and courage into what they write, and the fact that they actually got a book published counts for a lot. But I really hated "Catcher In The Rye". I have to agree with @snider as well. When I saw this thread, Joseph Conrad's "Heart Of Darkness" came to mind as well. It was required reading in high school. The book isn't a big read, but the darn thing is boring! *shields herself for the stoning*
Aug 2, 2009 4:32 pm
@beattifickid89 I thought I was the only person in the world that hated 'Catcher in the Rye' but obviously not. Thanks for the validation. I didn't read it in school like everyone seemed to and read it it first about five years ago. I really wanted to like it as it's a classic that has been mentioned to me many times. I just found myself getting annoyed with the central figure and frustrated with as a whole!
I also must admit to not really enjoying 'Naughts and Crosses' by Malorie Blackman - I suppose I don't hate it but it's another one of those books that was really hyped up to me and I didn't end up getting much from reading it.
Aug 4, 2009 8:02 am
I agree with everyone else out there--"Heart of Darkness" was so boring, I could not finish it. I also hated "A Rebours". The whole thing was about a self-centered guy---So Boring!!!
Aug 6, 2009 4:11 pm
I HATED "Great Expectations." I had to read it freshman year in high school, and it was so tedious to get through. I'm generally not a Dickens hater, I liked Tale of Two Cities, but I couldn't get through "Great Expectations." Also, I'm not a huge fan of "On the Road." (waits for the throwing of rotten fruits and vegetables to cease.) I know its supposed to be brilliant and whatnot, but I had to force myself to read it.
Aug 7, 2009 12:36 am
Vanity Fair. I tried several times to read it, but with no luck. Absolutely boring.
Aug 11, 2009 4:58 pm
I had to read Middlemarch for a college course. It was awful. There's not one work of dialog in it.
Aug 12, 2009 6:33 pm
For me it was Slaughterhouse Five. It had been recommended to me a long time ago when I visited Germany as a great description of the bombing of Dresden. I didn't know much about the book and had expected historical fiction, not sci fi.
Aug 18, 2009 9:44 am
I loathed Eat, Pray, Love. I found it to be narcisstic upper-middle class dribble. I know women rave and rave about this book but it was torture for me.
Aug 18, 2009 11:35 am
Just remembered another book I absolutely hated, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. What a pile of garbage. Regardless of the controversy of whether or not it was as autobiographical as originally claimed, it was the most poorly written, over-hyped piece of junk I have ever read. The story was not interesting, the characters were totally unlikeable, especially the narcissistic James, and the longest sentence had about 10 words, most had 1 or 2. Wow. Look. I can write. Like that. Revolutionary!
Aug 21, 2009 1:10 pm
IF I EVER SET EYES ON MIDDLE MARCH AGAIN BY GEORGE ELIOT - I'LL GO BALISTIC - you know how man freakin' pages it has of tiresome Elizabethan English - and the number of characters to keep track of - and of course it would pop up in a senior English class at Yale when I'm cruisin to med school ...and like the book is really written by a woman and the romantic twists and turns make any reality show look stupid (they're stupid to begin with, come on you American woman???) ... but I shudder just seeing a copy of the two-set volume - it sends me into anaphylactic shock so help me god!
Aug 25, 2009 7:38 pm
My guy, a scientist, reads fiction only if it passes my scrutiny first. He reads slowly, like many science types, and has ADHD, so concentrating on fiction is difficult. Our first year together, I recommended SHOGUN, by James Clavell. He read it all the way through, and when the heroine died, he threw the book across the room and bellowed. He really, really hated the ending--so after that I was careful not to recommend anything where the girl gets killed He said it was like watching a Chuck Norris flick, where the girlfriend gets killed as an excuse for mayhem! So I think his dislike of Shogun is a rather sweet comment on his adoration of all things female, like me!
Aug 26, 2009 3:51 pm
Anna Karenina. Loved the first line. Hated the rest. One of the only books in my life I started and did not finish.
Sep 22, 2009 4:12 pm
Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut. I was a die-hard Vonnegut fan until this book. I gave it up and never picked up another of his books.
Sep 22, 2009 7:52 pm
Behold, A Pale Horse!
Oct 24, 2009 7:20 pm
Bless Me Ultima was completely ridiculous. The story is supposedly told from the point of view of a child, but it reads almost like he is an adult . His parents are annoying, and the weird mix of spirtual beliefs is troublesome. I really didn't see the point, other then the benefits to children of having two parents who are on the same spiritual page.
Oct 24, 2009 11:10 pm
The only book I started and could not finish was Moby Dick. I could manage 2, maybe 3 pages before literally passing out. That is how absolutely bored I was. It was great for those insomnia nights though ;) 2nd place is definately Heart of Darkness.
Dec 26, 2009 9:25 am
I tried to slog through Out of Africa, but by about 1/4 of the way through it was clear that there was no real story or point really. I felt like it was simply colonial masturbation - you know, "oh these natives are so emotionally inscrutable and ignorant and superstitious, but isn't it cute when they caper for us!" Whatever.
Dec 27, 2009 2:30 am
This may be better fitted for which book did you hate the ending, but for me it was The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. The book was so long and I was so mad at the ending of the book it felt like a waste of time pushing thru in trying to finish the book.
Dec 28, 2009 12:49 pm
I'm a children's librarian, but I will never like "Chika-chicka-bom-bom by Bill Martin!! YUCK!
I don't care how many people love it-make lessons plans around it!!!!
I LOVED Wuthering Heights and could not put the book down, sorry roaming smile.
Feb 1, 2010 2:03 pm
Hated Catcher--so unrelentingly depressing.
Hate almost all of Robert Heinlein. The story lines are all the same: Old guy boffs young girl/woman as young protege boffs age appropriate young woman, they make babies and there is always a reference to nipples being hard or deflated. Monstrous. Stranger in a Strange Land was better than most.
Feb 22, 2010 3:38 pm
Dan Brown has the unique ability to choose topics that interest me (and millions of others judging by his recent success). Strangely I can say that I enjoy and hate his books at the same time. The topics hold my interest, but the diction is elementary and character development is almost nonexistent. I will probably fall under the sway of his next conspiracy theory and pay my $24.99 like the pavlovian that I am only to be disappointed when the bell is followed only by a dry and tasteless reward.
Feb 22, 2010 4:06 pm
Anything written by Janet Evanovich . . . chick lit meets crime/mystery novel doesn't work for me.
Feb 22, 2010 9:16 pm
Has to be The English Patient. Pretentious and doesn't have a clue about what women think. Wanted to throw the book against the wall more than once.
Feb 25, 2010 5:06 pm
So interesting how some of the most beloved books have ended up on this list...
As for me, I absolutely hated the book Saturday by Ian McEwan. It makes me mad how much I disliked that book, and how I wasted my time on such a piece of garbage. I also really hated The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I read it when I was about 13 and it made me really depressed, and I absolutely hated Sebold's portrayal of heaven and could not get over it! I did not find any shards of hope in that book.
Mar 4, 2010 6:57 pm
I struggled to get through and absolutely detested The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
Apr 24, 2010 9:50 pm
I absolutely hated Love in the Time of Cholera. None of the characters were likeable at all, it contained some really bizarre and disturbing story elements (suicides and paedophilia), and the pinnacle of the story is that the two main characters who were then old, and suffering from bowel related issues, finally make love. I cannot believe this book is so highly rated. Ughh
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Apr 25, 2010 12:24 pm
When I was in middle school, we had to read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and I hated it with an unholy passion. Not long ago, it up again to see if I could remember why I hated it, and fount myself actually liking it, now that I am older and can understand what is going on. I'm planning to pick up several works by Charles Dickens and Shakespeare that I hated in middle school...maybe I'll find my opinions on those changed too.
But I will never, ever be able to like Harlequin Romances. I picked up one when I was 11 or 12, and thought it was good. Then I picked up another, and another because my mother and her best friend were addicted. By the fourth one, I realized that it was all essentially the same story, with the names of the characters and the location changed around.
Apr 26, 2010 1:34 pm