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hobbitsubculture's avatar

What are the five worst novels you have ever read?

Asked by hobbitsubculture (2141 points ) March 7th, 2011

And why were they so bad? Were the plot and characters weak? Did you hate the writing style? Was it too confusing, or maybe too offensive? Only books you’ve made it at least ¾ of the way through count. I think can of many terrible books that I put down at page fifty, but I’m looking for the books that were good enough to read most of the way through, and yet bad enough to complain to your friends about. Maybe even for a few weeks.

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46 Answers

syz's avatar

Any of the Twilight series (bad writing and annoying-as-fuck characters). And most Anne Rice books (she just seems so titillated by her own writing).

coffeenut's avatar

The Bible.

Characters didn’t seem real, Extremely offensive, Very repetitive, Very weak plot, unbelievable plot twists….ect. Well that’s more like seventy-three books
wouldn’t recommend…

12Oaks's avatar

In no particular order.

The Great Gatspy
The Grapes of Wrath
Julie and Julia
Rhett Butler’s People
Harry Potter and…... (Fill in the blank).

incendiary_dan's avatar

@12Oaks I think you just lost two potential friends. >(

Zaku's avatar

I’ve forgotten the titles. Answers are of course all subjective, and most books that I dislike, I don’t make it to 75% complete.

I’d say The Pilgrim’s Progress and Pamela, but I gave up before reading even half of those. I can’t stand so much morality-obsessed Christianity.

I didn’t like Dandilion Wine, though some people love it. I have a hard time having any interest in most stories set in the South of the USA. Seemed horribly boring and I didn’t care about anyone or what happened to them. Same for some other books I was forced to read about the South in high school, whose titles I have forgotten.

A Princess of the Aerie I was fairly displeased with. It had some pretty gross misanthropic sexual stuff in it and it was another of those sci-fi universes filled with people I don’t like doing horrid things to each other, in empty ways that don’t really ring true to me, and feel kind of inhuman and disturbing, yet are supposedly clever or cool.

I almost want to accuse one of the Honor Harrington books of the same sort of problem, but I don’t think there’s quite one I would single out that way. It’s more a problem with parts of many of them, for me. I almost really like the series, and so have read practically all of it, but I find most of the text of it really dull and pointless, and wrong about its socio-economic commentary, and annoying in it’s dwelling on the planet of Texan (?) conservatives-in-space (planet Grayson) and psychic cats and people who savor things and raise their eyebrows. But the combat details are often juicy. ;-) Those are good enough to read through and get hooked on, but offer plenty to whine and complain about, and be embarrassed for having read.

etignotasanimum's avatar

Vampirates (I kid you not, this is real)
Anne Rice
Stephanie Meyer
The Lord of the Flies
The Lord of the Rings (I know, I know! It’s an interesting concept, but I just find Tolkien’s writing kind of…heavy. I don’t know. I might try and read it again)

Bonus series that are terribly written but I read anyway: Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books. They’re awful, and yet it’s like a train wreck I can’t stop watching…or rather, reading.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Jane Eyre (Zzzzzzzz….)

podwarp's avatar

Pride & Prejudice / Sense and Sensibility / Emma (and I can guess everything else by Austen I haven’t read): Something about Jane Austen’s works just don’t connect with me. Her characters and the romance can just bore me and the writing style doesn’t move me in any way. I much prefer the Bronte sisters.

Twilight: Everything was just bad. It was a sick fascination (and a need to tell people “Yes, I read it”) that led me to finish it.

Old Man and the Sea / Farewell to Arms: I just don’t like Hemingway’s style. Like, at all.

Ordinary People: Characters were dull and every other page someone was playing golf.

Saga of the Volsungs: This was just a big “huh?” for me, honestly.

troubleinharlem's avatar

Twilight need I say more?
The Wrinkle in Time it was way too confusing for me, but I was way ahead of my reading level when I was like… 8, so maybe that’s why.

@etignotasanimum : Yeah, I like the books, but he describes on for pages and pages and PAGES.

podwarp's avatar

@12Oaks Gatsby? Grapes of Wrath? Harry Potter?! Why?!

MilkyWay's avatar

@podwarp I KNOW! I LOVE the grapes of wrath !!!

marinelife's avatar

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
Ulysses

I can’t remember the others. I try not to clutter up my brain with drivel.

12Oaks's avatar

@podwarp @queenie Can’t really say why, except for I just did NOT like that Grapes story. OK, I will admit that chapter about that turtle still fascinates my somehow, but the rest of it I just didn’t like. As far as Gatspy, it was confusing and I just never understood what Jay Gatspy was all about there is West Egg, old sport.

etignotasanimum's avatar

I feel sort of sad about some of these. I love Ulysses, Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby, and The Wrinkle in Time. Then again, I do think that each of these has a style that can be kind of obscure-ish, but that is why I like all of them, I think.

MacBean's avatar

The Catcher in the Rye is probably my least favorite book of all time. I didn’t read it until I was past the period where I could relate to Holden Caulfield in any way, shape or form. I felt like nothing really happened. There’s no development. Holden is the same whiny, self-absorbed, self-unaware, hypocritical, boring little boy at the end as he was in the beginning. Also, I’m just not usually a fan of stream-of-consciousness writing, so there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have cared for the book even if I didn’t completely despise Holden.
.
If you catch me on the right day, depending on my mood, Catcher could possibly be called my second least favorite book, after Wuthering Heights. What utter dreck. Hateful characters doing contemptible things, and not a single redeeming quality in the whole relationship. And the fact that people put the woefully unhealthy relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff on such a pedestal makes me hate it even more.
.
(Romeo & Juliet bothers me for similar reasons. THAT IS A CAUTIONARY TALE ABOUT IDIOT ADOLESCENTS, PEOPLE. IT IS NOT THE SORT OF RELATIONSHIP ONE SHOULD STRIVE FOR. UGH. But I don’t despise that one like I do Wuthering Heights. And Twilight. Which is poorly-written and dares to compare itself to R&J and WH. Whaaat!? SMeyer, get the hell out of the literature business. You are fucking ridiculous.)
.
Let’s see… What else…? Oh. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert The beginning was boring. Then it got a little better. Then it became almost unbearable. Then it was okay for a while. But by the end I hated every character and was severely disappointed that more of them didn’t die because they all should have. Horribly. In very painful ways.
.
And… I think those are the only books I’ve read to the end that I dislike enough to use words like “worst” and “hate” when I talk about them. Even Anne Rice, who is a self-important dick with an oversized ego who called my girlfriend names, doesn’t get reviews as bad as these from me.

podwarp's avatar

@etignotasanimum No one’s really ever read Ulysses or Finnegan’s Wake. Come on.

;D Kidding, of course. I’m actually really curious to know how you got around to reading Ulysses. Did you pick up one of those guides? I bought the book in high school and have tried to get past chapter 2 for the last 5 years!

@MacBean Every character in Wuthering Heights is a crackpot, honestly; I also will never be able to understand the so-called “great romance” of Cathy(the first) and Heathcliff. What saves that book for me is the writing, which I thought was/is just… exquisite. Try it again! I think characters are secondary to the writing style (otherwise no one would ever be able to finish Lolita!).

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Danielle Steel writes the worst novels. She has bland characters, she bores the reader by dragging the story out and then has quick, anticlimactic endings. It almost seems that she loses herself during the story and then says, “Oh crap this is long, I better think of an ending off the top of my head now and wrap this up in 1 chapter”.

Seelix's avatar

I once read a book called Fox Evil by Minette Walters. It was horrible. It was supposed to be a mystery story, but even I figured it out before I was halfway through, and I never figure out stuff like that. Mr. Fiance is forever making fun of me for staring at the TV, mouth gaping, while he says “I saw that coming!” It was bad. Don’t read it. Ever.

I have a very strong dislike for Heart of Darkness. I had to read that book for school three freakin’ times. I read it in two different high school classes, then in university. It’s so boring. If Conrad had actually written Apocalypse Now, then I could’ve loved it.

etignotasanimum's avatar

@podwarp Actually, I read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in high school and loved it. So, I picked up a copy of Ulysses out of curiosity and liked it as well. Granted, I’m sure I don’t pick up on all the meaning in Joyce’s work, but it’s fun trying!

gailcalled's avatar

I consider Joyce’s Ulysses the novel I would take to that legendary desert island. It is, to me, the best piece of fiction of the twentieth century.

I read it as an adult in a 6-week English class open to mixed generations. The regular 12th grade English students along with anyone in the community who wanted to attend. It was funded by The Geraldine Dodge Fountation. I also took a similar course and reread Moby Dick and War and Peace.

I do draw the line at Finnegan’s Wake, however.

My little list:

Don Quixote
Moll Flanders
The Fountainhead
Atlas Shrugged
The Magic Mountain

podwarp's avatar

@etignotasanimum @gailcalled So much respect for reading and enjoying Ulysses (also War and Peace!). I think I’m going to give Ulysses a try again and slug through it with a guide.

@gailcalled I read Moby Dick in high school and absolutely hated it! It was like the history of whaling. I reread it last year—not for class but just something on my own time, and I think it’s amazing now. It must have been very nice to have discussed it in a class setting; I missed out on that.

gailcalled's avatar

@podwarp:It was particularly wonderful to have a professor, the 12th graders, teachers from other departments and adults of different ages in the class. The range of responses and reactions made the discussion as important as the novels.

tigerlilly2's avatar

The Scarlet Letter
Antigone
On The Road
Hedda Gabler
Atlas Shrugged

All of these works to me were mundane as hell.

BarnacleBill's avatar

The Fountainhead
War and Peace
Freedom – Jonathan Franzen – I hate the characters
Altas Shrugged
Any autobiography, but especially presidential autobiographies

gailcalled's avatar

@BarnacleBill: Try War and Peace again, maybe next winter when you are snowed in.

KateTheGreat's avatar

Cold Sassy Tree
Lord of the Flies
Anything Anne Rice or Stephen King go ahead, shoot me

Vunessuh's avatar

In high school I had to read Heart of Darkness, Brave New World, Pride and Prejudice, The Scarlet Letter and Crime and Punishment and I found all of them to be incredibly mundane and for lack of a better word, bullshit.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

No surprise that Twilight has been such a frequent answer. The series isn’t entirely terrible; Meyer knows how to keep the plot going, and some of her side characters have been interesting. Too bad the side characters are the only ones that are interesting. Her lack of research into anything is insane. And it’s pretentious of her to think that she can write the next Pride and Prejudice.

@troubleinharlem A Wrinkle in Time might be worth looking at again. I didn’t get it that young either, but I loved it when I went back in high school.

@MacBean Yes! I can’t stand when Romeo and Juliet are held up as the quintessential romantic relationship, for exactly that reason. But at least Shakespeare was clever. Meyer is not, which is why she fails in her attempts to be Jane Austen.

@podwarp For some reason, my fifth grade class read Moby Dick. We had a long-term sub at the time, but still. There is no way fifth graders are going to get anything beneath the surface with the book, and whaling is boring. I didn’t expect what an amazing book it would be when I reread it in college.

KateTheGreat's avatar

Where The Red Fern Grows. That’s another horrible book.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

@KatetheGreat Where The Red Fern Grows is terrible. Completely forgot about it until you mentioned it.

KateTheGreat's avatar

@hobbitsubculture Finally, someone agrees. Everyone thought it was so cute because it was about dogs. I HATED IT.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

@KatetheGreat Not a fan of animal stories, although I love animals. Old Yeller wasn’t good either. I don’t even like Flipper or Finding Nemo.

KateTheGreat's avatar

@hobbitsubculture Trust me, I hate them just as much. Animal stories aren’t very interesting to me. I also hate lovey dovey romantic bullshit books. Nicholas Sparks makes me scream.

BLITsZ's avatar

Gone with the wind, Jacob have I loved, Anne Frank remembered, Revolutionary war…and I don’t remember the 5th.
My evil language Arts teacher made me read these boring books!!!

DeanV's avatar

I can’t stand anything by Ayn Rand.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

How do you pronounce “Ayn Rand”, btw? Is it like “Ann Rand”?

DeanV's avatar

@Michael_Huntington I’ve always pronounced it A-en Rand, but I’m not sure.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Something like ‘ine’.

filmfann's avatar

Manchild In The Promised Land.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

Feel like it’s about time for me to answer my own question, so here goes:

Twilight for all the reasons already stated, but let’s not forget, it’s the little touches that make these books so godawful-terrible. Like Meyer writing a main character who’s so clumsy she’s borderline disabled, and none of the other characters suggesting physical therapy.

The Amber Spyglass, even though I loved the first two books of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy. The first two books had great main characters, vivid settings, and creepy plotlines. The third is just an overdone atheistic tirade with way too many pages dedicated to this army that’s being put together to kill god. I wasn’t offended by the unrelenting atheism; I just hate heavy-handed messages.

The Scarlet Letter is kind of a classic boring book. Puritans aren’t that interesting. Some of Hawthorne’s other work is a little more interesting, but barely.

The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind turned me off with all its gratuitous sex and violence. After the first book, he would go out of his way to have some pervy villain set up situations like incestuous demon orgies climaxing with someone’s throat being cut and their nipples being used for mind control or some crap. Shock value only works so many times; after a point, it just got ridiculous.

My fifth one is some Dean Koontz book I read. There were two teenage guys, one dorky, one popular. The popular one was a psychopath, so of course he eventually turned against the dorky one, and there was a long, long chase through a train yard.

Haleth's avatar

The Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. When I was working at the adult toy store we had a lot of free time and my co-worker would bring in these novels. He read some of the scenes out loud and I was hooked, like a train wreck that you can’t look away from. The protagonist is a blatant self-insert of the author, but younger, hotter, and with like twenty interchangeable lovers who are vampires, werewolves, strippers, and vampire/werewolf/strippers.

She’s basically a mean, selfish bitch who sees all other women as competition (seriously, there is like not a single positive portrayal of another female character anywhere in the series.) She’s a federal marshal and is always complaining about sexism from male police officers that she works with.

But there’s something so deliciously over the top and lowbrow about these novels. Every other page there’s some crazy shit like a three-way vampire/werewolf sex marathon or a shootout in a graveyard. There are way more than five novels in this series and I’m not sure which ones make the bottom five, but… yeah.

Twilight is somewhere in there, too. It’s aimed at a younger audience and teaches way worse values to readers who are much more impressionable.

Symbeline's avatar

Mina

An unofficial sequel to Bram stoker’s Dracula, focusing on Mina. I was quite interested…so, you’d think that after the events in Dracula, Mina would have come out stronger and wiser. She was quite determined and strong to begin with…but in this book, she basically repeats what happened in the first, falling for some dude who happens to be a vampire, and cheating on Jonathan. Again. There’s lots of other stuff, like the journal of one of the vampire chicks that hung around with Dracula, which Mina found. The journal explains the life of this girl before she became a vampire, so that was kinda cool.
But the purpose of this book was apparently to give a woman’s view on the Drac mythos, and making Mina a dumbass was pretty disheartening.

Wait and See

A house wife discovers that the ghost of prosecuted witch haunts her basement. It’s up to her and her friends to either exorcise it, or set it to rest somehow. It was actually pretty interesting, and there was one damn creepy part in it…but overall everything seemed so ridiculous, plus the writing was so dull and monotonous.

Insomnia

I love Stephen King, he’s one of my favourites. But I’m not a biased fangirl who blindly accepts everything he comes up with. Now I’m not saying Insomnia was bad. I’m pretty sure it was awesome for what it was. But it did not fit my tastes, that’s for sure. And to be honest, I did not understand a damn thing. I read the whole thing…but I’m saving it for later. Maybe you have to be old to get all this.

Well that’s all I got off the top of my head. There was another vampire story but I can’t even remember the title of the book so…XD

Seelix's avatar

@Symbeline – Insomnia was weird. I didn’t really like it all that much either, but if you read Hearts in Atlantis (the movie storyline is only about a third of the book) you’ll understand the Low Men a little better. Just helps things make a little more sense – I’m not saying that it’ll make you like the book.

anartist's avatar

Looks like rugged individualist Ayn Rand and progenitor of the modern vampire novel, Anne Rice, as well as her Twilight follower, get the consensual “boo“s for this Q.
Saw a lot of other things I have enjoyed dissed:
Cather in the Rye
The Great Gatsby
Grapes of Wrath
even Moll Flanders [also enjoyed Tom Jones]
and Magic Mountain

was surprised to see no mention of D.H. Lawrence, one way or the other

Born2Rock's avatar

I had to read the Barcode Tattoo for my language arts class. AWFUL book, not an interesting plotline, no likable characters, and not that good of writing. Why we had to read it for a honors class, I don’t know. Fell asleep on page 27, and that is extremely rare for me! I love Percy Jackson, The Rangers Apprentice, the likes. I also thought Twilight was extremely boring.

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